As someone who grew up playing video games that let you throw fireballs, suplex trains, and slay dragons, I’m a little confused by the appeal of some of today’s simple, low-key smartphone games. In particular, any game where you run around having to harvest food baffles me, since I always assumed the best part of farming and agricultural distribution was actually getting to eat something when it was all done.
Thankfully, the makers of the upcoming title Gochipon seem to agree with me, and are rewarding the best players with honest-to-goodness fruit.
The overall design of Gochipon, the trial version of which is available now for iOS and Android phones, isn’t so different from a lot of other free-to-play mobile games. You move your character around a board game-style map of Japan, and along the way you can obtain regional foodstuffs and mascot characters.
There’s obviously a lot of promotional marketing potential, and indeed developers say that by completing certain tasks as set forth by real-world companies and organizations, players will have a chance at winning prizes. One of the first to sponsor such a competition is Suika Club, part of one of Japan’s watermelon (in Japanese, suika) growers’ associations.
As players traverse Gochipon’s game world, they’ll come across watermelons, like the ones seen floating along the bottom edge of this screen.
After collecting the delicious fruits, they can be taken to a different area of the map and measured.
Like many social games, Gochipon maintains lists of rankings, including who’s harvested the biggest watermelon.
Periodically, Suika Club will be checking the top of the watermelon boards and award an actual watermelon to the player who’s found the largest in-game one. The melons will come from Kumamoto, Tottori, Chiba, Niigata, Nagano, and Yamagata Prefectures.
The contest runs from now until June 17, meaning winners should be receiving their thirst-quenching prizes just about the time Japan is at its hottest and most humid.
Meanwhile, no announcement has yet been made for Gochipon contests where you can win beer or edamame, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.