Tengami Review (Wii U eShop)

When it comes to describing something with a few words, poetry is the way to go. If you want to use as few words as possible, it’s hard to beat the Japanese Haiku. Tengami by Nyamyam appears to aim to be like that. It’s short but an interesting experience that I enjoy the more I ponder it, just like a good poem.

Graphics

One thing you will probably hear about Tengami a lot is its graphics. Using a Japanese picture book style, the graphics are already timeless and fresh to the eyes of gamers. I might want to compare it to the beautiful Okami, but the art styles are distinctly different and both are refreshing. The game works at a slow pace so even when the framerate would drop for an instant, I was never disturbed by it (I think it happened around three times when changing scenes).

I can’t say there’s much for a story. The cutscenes use the same graphical engine as the game but I wonder if the game has a deeper meaning. My first thought when I saw the opening scene was that the man was dead. I wonder if that was on purpose especially when I saw the credits. Nevertheless, it is a beautifully rendered game.

The graphics alone help make me glad to have this game in my library

The graphics alone help make me glad to have this game in my library

Music

Even though the composer’s name does not appear to bear any connection to the Japanese, that does not mean he cannot effectively use their instruments. The music is memorable even if it is just because it’s refreshing. I might just be tempted to purchase it myself, something that very few games have made me consider (such as Okami and Xenoblade Chronicles). Note: if you watch the video below, it will spoil how to solve some of the puzzles. So if you want to be a purist, then just listen but don’t watch until after you beat the game.

Gameplay

One of the wonders of Tengami is its unique gameplay by employing picture book techniques. When playing with the diorama, you slide things around and the environment will emerge in a simple, but classic fold-out style. This is done by moving to small glowing spots on the map. Then on either the left or right edges (right tends to mean going forward, and left for going back), tap and slide across the screen. The environment can also be modified without changing rooms. Most of the puzzles involve tapping objects or swapping environmental pieces such as a waterfall to unfold a bridge. The only time I really had a problem with this was in the very beginning when I tried sliding something in the wrong direction. If something can be tapped or pulled, a small circle surrounds it. As a general rule of thumb, the puzzles involve paying attention and sometimes going about slowly so that you can pay attention. If you have trouble, you can consult the walkthrough on the official website or ask a specific question on Miiverse.

As you turn the page, the diorama unfolds into a different room

As you turn the page, the diorama unfolds into a different room

The character moves fairly slowly, but if he moved any faster, that might betray the essence of the game so I was satisfied with the speed. Sure, when I was confused and moving back and forth, I would have liked a small boost, but once I found that I could just leave my finger on the edge of the screen and occasionally tap (yay for big hands), I was okay. You can use the stylus, but the taps are also fairly accurate with just your finger, even when moving to those small circles. I found that to be very impressive. If you want more accuracy, then the stylus is helpful. Also worth noting, none of the regular buttons do anything. This is purely a touchscreen game. If you want to exit, you tap the circle in the top left corner and that will bring up your menu. There you have your options, exit, and even occasional hints if you don’t disable them (there’s one if there was a “?” in the circle).

You might find it hard to believe this is an indie game because it is well polished. The music is good, the graphics are sweet, and I didn’t find any bugs in my initial playthrough. When I would go on a section of the map that could be swapped, that functional would be disabled until I left that spot (except for the boat, of course). The character also makes smart maneuvers when moving to where you want to go. I could tap a location with various obstacles in the way, and he would take the best route, as long as it is in the same screen in my experience.

Replayability

There is no heavy tutorial for this game, not even in the manual, making it easy to jump in a replay the game. This shows Nyamyam’s respect for the player’s time and effort to make it easy for people to pick up again and again. This doesn’t mean you are left alone. Hints will pop up in the beginning telling you to tap and slide and that is all you need to do. If you tap on some objects, you may also receive a hint. Speaking of hints, you can tap the top left corner when it has a “?” and you can get a hint. For those who think the game has deep thoughts, it might be worth exploring by replaying the game a few times, but I don’t think that’s a requirement to enjoy it.

you don't need to tap so close to the character to get him to move. cover larger distances with fewer taps

You don’t need to tap so close to the character to get him to move. cover larger distances with fewer taps

Overall

The game costs $10 and takes up about 338 MB of space. Being a 3 hour game, it might be hard to justify the purchase but it is an experience. I actually find myself liking the game the more I think back on it. Some people might ask if it is like a Japanese version of Journey, but I can’t answer that.  I liked the music and the use of Japanese instruments like in Okami. The puzzles require observation and sometimes patience. When we received the code for our game, the developers said,

“When we created Tengami we envisioned the player to play Tengami in bed before going to sleep or in the afternoon on the sofa with a hot beverage. Take your GamePad to your favourite relax spot in the flat, put the headphones on and have some time to yourself. Tengami is deliberately a short game, we want you to be able to play it in one or two sessions. So don’t stress or worry about review deadlines and if you get stuck there is always a Walkthrough to consult. Just take your time and think of Tengami as a bed time game to guide you into beautiful dreams.

When thought of in the sense of a picture book, I can imagine this being a game I can go back too over and over like a little kid asking his mom to read the same story before bed. The idea of a game that just requires tapping and sliding makes this an interesting experience. I don’t know if there is much benefit to buying this on the Wii U instead of the iPad beyond having it on the big screen, but at least there are miiverse stamps you can use. If anything, it is a game that I feel you can play before going to bed so it is a great fit for both the iPad and Wii U. My recommendation is for people who enjoy Japanese art and music, can appreciate the art of unfolding objects into dioramas, are patient, enjoy puzzles, and/or don’t mind a short, unexciting, but I think a good experience.

10 Stamps to collect. Can you find them all?

10 Stamps to collect. Can you find them all?

Hint: 

There is one puzzle that might confuse people who don’t know the Kanji symbols. You are supposed to count somethings but unless you know Japanese counting system, I can see how it can be confusing. So here is the system for 1-10 in that order.  一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八、九、十  They are displayed in that order in the game, but I think it’s understandable that someone might not realize that.

Tengami Review (Wii U eShop)
An interesting title that plays like an interactive pop-up book. Great graphics and music overshadow the gameplay, but the gameplay grows on you the more you think about it. It may play fairly slow, but the style of the game makes it right. Great fit for Wii U Gamepad and iPad
Graphics9
Music9
Gameplay8.5
Replayability8
Pros
  • Timeless graphics
  • Appropriate music
  • Enjoyment value increases over time
Cons
  • Very short
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0
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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise