Well, it happens every Tokyo Game Show. The show isn’t just for showing upcoming games, after all. Many developers and publishers have recently-released titles or long runners that they want to show off, and for indie developers in particular it can be a great chance to get some extra eyes on your project or make some new connections. Usagi Shima (Free) isn’t an upcoming game, nor is it one waiting in the wings for a Western localization. You can play Usagi Shima right now, because it came out around a month ago. But it looked so darned cute I just had to give it some of my time anyway.
The developer of Usagi Shima, Pui Pui Yu, isn’t shy about her source of inspiration. She’ll tell you right up front that it’s a similar concept to Hit-Point’s Neko Atsume, and so it is. If you haven’t played that game, it’s basically a cat collector. You put out toys and food and try to lure cats to your yard. You can then add them to a little book and take pictures of them, and as they come back they’ll become more friendly to you and show off new poses and such. There’s no real end goal beyond perhaps seeing all the cats and reaching the highest affection level with them, but even then you tend to check in just to see which cats are around and what they’re doing.
Well, that’s the basic idea behind Usagi Shima as well. You’ve got bunnies instead of cats, though. The art style looks quite different, and so it should: all of it was done by the developer herself over the course of three years. Just as in Neko Atsume, there are special bunnies and certain poses that will only be seen by satisfying certain conditions. I took a particular liking to Moose, a bunny with antlers. He’s pretty dope. The area the rabbits gather in is a lot larger than the Neko Atsume backyard, with a lot more points of interest for them to interact with. You can peek into any of the structures as you like to see what they’re up to, which is another cute mechanic separating this from its source of inspiration.
Most of the goodies you’ll need to lure in the bunnies can be bought with the two types of carrots you have at your disposal. There are normal carrots that can be used for a wide array of things, but if you want to get your hands on the really neat stuff you’ll need the golden carrots. Golden carrots can be earned normally, but you probably won’t get them at a pace that you can go on buying sprees. That’s where the monetization comes in, as you can buy golden carrots and therefore get the cool toys more frequently. But what are you in a rush for? Just enjoy the bunnies. They’re super cute.
I’m glad Usagi Shima was at the Tokyo Game Show, because honestly speaking its release flew right past me. Second chances are rare in the game industry and even rarer in particular in the mobile end of things because of how fast and furious releases come. I’ve since downloaded it and I’m really enjoying chilling out with these rabbits a little each day. If you liked Neko Atsume and also like rabbits, go grab Usagi Shima. I think you’ll enjoy it just as much if not more than the game featuring those clawed agents of chaos. Tell Moose that Shaun sent you.