Review: Tengami


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Mobile gaming is expected to take over the video-game market in the coming years, but the new Wii U game Tengami may delay this trend.

A couple months ago, Hajime Tabata, codirector of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, speculated in an interview with Kotaku that if his game doesn’t do well, “there’s not much of a future for console games.” His argument focused on Japan’s prevalent commuter culture and the growing trend of playing mobile games on the train or bus over consoles in front of a TV all day.

Tabata’s speculation may not apply to the North American or European markets, but if Japan’s decades-long contribution to the global home electronics market makes a change, it may affect the rest of the world in the same fashion, thus defeating the purpose of porting games such as Tengami to consoles.

Tengami releases on Nintendo’s Wii U today after seeing modest success on Apple devices. A tranquil puzzle game designed to look like a cross between Japanese papercraft and pop-up story books, the game was designed by talent previously associated with Rare, the game developer that made million-selling blockbusters such as Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie.

The involvement of former Rare staff David Wise is likely to perk up ears. One of gaming’s most respected and beloved musical composers, Wise brings koto and shamisen sounds to complement the calm and reflective levels set in a fairy-tale version of Japan.

With the Wii U’s touch screens, Tengami's point-and-click style of play on iPhones and iPads is a nice fit here. It does raise this question however: Why is this game on consoles now?

The game has doubled in price for the exact same amount of content, which I predict will turn off many potential buyers with one quick Google search about the game.

While Tengami is nice, the lack of content highlights what a bad idea bringing it to larger screens is in the first place. Angry Birds has this same problem on consoles, too. Playing these games on our phones makes sense because they’re designed for short bursts of play (not unlike arcade games once upon time).

The niche Tengami is likely to find on consoles is the same one occupied by others such as Journey or the Unfinished Swan — “art” games that only a minority of players will give the time of day.

Tengami is now available for Nintendo Wii U at $9.99 and Apple devices at $4.99.

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