Enthusiasts of cozy games and the farm sim genre have had a packed month of releases this September. And while it is coming to a close, a few more titles have made it in time for the Simtember/Farm Simtember nicknames to stick. Enter Mineko’s Night Market developed by Meowza Games and published by Humble Bundle. With an art direction that could easily translate into a children’s picture book (gouache, pastel, and color pencil vibes all day, every day, please), Mineko’s Night Market caught my eye back in August 2018 when it was featured in a Nintendo Indies showcase. Originally slated for a 2019 release, it was delayed to 2023.
The premise of Mineko’s Night Market is fairly standard for a narrative, cozy sim – Mineko (the titular character) moves to a new village and is tasked with, ultimately, revitalizing her new neighborhood on Mount Fugu and unraveling the myth/tale of Nikko, the Sun Cat. What keeps the story moving forward is that it’s hilariously well-written. Mineko is a child and while you’ll talk with adults, the village is also home to a number of fellow kids… including Bobo who grabs onto Mineko (a.k.a. the New Kid) instantly and drags her into a wild storyline. Life on this small island isn’t just about picking flowers and gathering other resources. No, there are black-suited agents that have infiltrated various parts of the island and have caged the island’s cats. Why? Well, Bobo is convinced everything is tied to Nikko, who allegedly does exist and calls Mount Fugu home. So, as the New Kid, it’s no surprise that Mineko gets dragged into this wonderful mess. Bobo isn’t the only stand-out kid here. The writing team has managed to capture how blunt kids can be, but with a weird (positive) charm. (That said, yes, a bunch of dialogue is repeated, but this isn’t a farm sim game where you’re here to max out everyone’s hearts and get married. Hearts here are limited to five and are tied to a quest system.)
To progress through the main story, you’ll need to make a bunch of cash. That’s where the Night Market aspect enters. Happening every Saturday night each season (we have a 28-day-per-season calendar system here), Mineko is given a booth to sell her wares. (This means on non-Night Market days you’ll be collecting items to craft, but you’re limited to how many items you can gather thanks to a stamina system.) You’ll start out with a limited number of items you can sell and can increase how many items you can display as you level up the Night Market itself. Unfortunately, the Night Market has seen better days and is a bit run down, but you can increase its level by completing sales at your booth. Be prepared though for a slowish start, as you can fill up your booth with forageable finds and items you’ve crafted thanks to craftbenches, but the game will only give you a set amount of customers each night (which might be based on your Night Market level). On top of that, sales for your booth at the Night Market consist of a pick-your-own price (from a range given – cheap to expensive) and bartering in case your customer thinks the price is a little high (or will walk away entirely). You can also get customers that aren’t interested in anything you’re selling and will breeze on by. Luckily, you can sell your goods during the rest of the week at other stores on the island for cash, but you’ll make the most money during the Night Market.
Earning funds at the Night Market isn’t the only thing to do, as you can also spend your cash at other booths and vending machines. As you increase the level of the Night Market, more booths will pop up. This is great because you might find yourself short on supplies because, as the seasons change in-game, so do your options of flowers, fish, and possibly more items. To close the Night Market, there will be a main event. These include a cat race, play, flower hunt game, and parade. These do repeat each season (from what I can tell), but there is variety in the plays. So far in my playthrough the plays for Spring and Summer have been different and expand on the lore of Nikko. Winning or completing each main event will also earn you a trophy that’ll decorate your room.
The whole concept is solid (and fun), but the problem is that there are a number of issues and bugs. Mineko’s Night Market needs further polish, which luckily, a patch is in the works. For players who jump in now, you’ll encounter the following on the Nintendo Switch version:
- Loading screens are broken. Audio will skip and stall out in addition to Mineko’s character animation starting and stopping. The loading screens can be a bit long and with these audio and visual errors, it makes them feel even longer.
- For reference, loading screens can be anywhere from about 14 seconds to 25 seconds long. Booting up a save file, at worst, was about a minute long. You’ll get a loading screen whenever you leave/enter a building, travel to a new location with the bus stop system, enter the Night Market, and go to bed.
- Transitions from the Night Market closing to the start of the next day share a similar issue. The fade to black is laggy. There are also other instances of lag in transitioning from one event to the next.
- Visual glitches such as Mineko’s Dad suddenly disappearing from inside their home (because he’s supposed to be outside), Mineko clipping through bus benches, cats getting stuck if they lag too far behind you, and more.
Needless to say, the loading screen issues aren’t fun. Depending on your patience level (or lack thereof), it’ll partially or completely take you out of the satisfying gameplay loop that cozy games fully embrace. At this point, I recommend waiting for a substantial patch to fix these issues before diving into the game. (I do have confirmation that one is in the works, but no estimated rollout date.) That’ll be easy if you prefer physical editions, as that release won’t be ready for another month. (You can pre-order the physical edition of Mineko’s Night Market at major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and Walmart, as well as at Signature Edition Games which includes a pre-order bonus).
So far, Mineko’s Night Market is a welcomed addition to anyone’s library of sim and cozy games, but more so once it’s polished further for a smoother gaming experience. I’m only 10 hours in and haven’t even reached the Fall and Winter seasons, as well as finishing the game’s main storyline. It’ll be interesting to see how Mineko’s Night Market plays once that storyline is completed. I assume it’ll be carried by unfinished quests and donations to the various museums on the island, but after that’s all completed what’s left? Making oodles of cash at the Night Market? Here’s to easily sinking another 10 hours in to find the answer.
Mineko’s Night Market is now available on Nintendo Switch and PC digitally for $19.99, with a physical release (priced at $34.99) planned for Friday, October 27th.
Leave a Comment