I’ve been eyeballing this game since it was first teased in Japan months ago for a good long while now. The newest Shin-Chan game — its full title “Shin-Chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey” — is not only the first game with a title so long I couldn’t type it all in the headline, but is also a game I genuinely didn’t expect to have an American release. But luckily it did because this game is fantastic.
Shin-Chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation follows the titular Shin-Chan, sometimes known as “Crayon Shin-Chan,” in which he and his family of a mom, dad, and baby sis head out across Japan to visit an old friend of his mom’s while his dad is out that way for business.
Every day you can look around the area, slowly getting access to more places to explore. You can talk to people, collect bugs and plants for a collection book, and bring certain things to certain people around the island which earns you pocket money. All while the game progresses through the day. As it gets late you can head back to the house where you can catch a few nighttime bugs and sit on the neighbor’s porch and listen to her read stories to her kids that are the same age as Shin-Chan. You just can’t go exploring at night; he is 5-years-old after all.
The island is filled with a ton of great and goofy characters to meet. There’s a plucky 18-year-old who opened her own convenience store. A down on his luck Ramen store owner who saved up most of his life to go all in on a ninja-themed ramen shop only to discover that ninjas were no longer popular. Oh, and there’s also a tiny mad scientist that’s going about bringing dinosaurs to life.
Don’t worry, despite the giant beasts being intimidating you’ll find they’re mostly really sweet and eventually just become part of the island, occasionally even joining in your morning stretches.
The mad scientist, himself, is not so cool. When Shin-chan finds out that the professor has a time machine, to prevent him from leaving the island, he traps Shin-chan in a seven-day time loop and eternally traps him in a summer getaway.
Luckily, this gives you plenty of time to work on everything from exploring the island, filling up your encyclopedia of bugs, fishing, and getting to know everything about the people you’re chilling with.
Each day progresses gradually. If you’re not home by a certain time, your dog comes to bring you home. You also have a stamina meter that drains as you run about the island and do stuff. But the stamina meter can be filled by buying snacks with your pocket money. The amount of stamina curry snacks can refill genuinely made me consider adding some to my next grocery order.
Now, don’t get me wrong, while this game is fantastic it is not for everyone. If you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced game, nah dude. You’re not getting that here. But if you’re looking for a nice, no-stress game about chilling, enjoying the world about you, revisiting how people interacted with you when you were five, occasionally running into a massive dinosaur, and just having a gorgeous end of summer, this game’s perfect.
The scenery is beyond stunning to the point where every time I found a new area Shin-chan stood still while I took in everything around him. And the sound design is perfection. While not every line of dialogue is voiced, which was a bummer, the creeks and other nature sounds are so crisp and real. If you play this game with headphones, the sound of a small creek mixed with the chirping of cicadas and bell crickets is one of the most peaceful things I’ve ever encountered.
But, if you’re familiar with Shin-chan, he’s still mishearing everything in the worst possible way, so the sense of humor is still there. My kids were laughing constantly while playing this game.
While parts of this game can get a little repetitive, especially if you’re trying to complete all the various side quests that mostly have you pick plants out of the ground, there are so many new things that happen as you progress that you won’t even notice the reoccurring events. Picking some fern leaves is one thing. Picking some fern leaves as a gentle brontosaurus walks past on a nearby path shaking the entire screen with each step is a very different moment. It’s also one of the first games in a long time that I could not only share with my kids but enjoy just as much as they did.
Shin chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey- (Switch) Score: 8.5/10
Shin-chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey- is exactly what the trailer promised. It’s a heartfelt summer vacation sim mixed with Stardew Valley-style side quests mixed in with a sprinkle of time travel and dinosaurs, because why not?