Mandy’s Tokyo Game Market 2021 Spring report

On April 10th – 11th, 2021 the Game Market Spring (ゲームマーケット2021春) was held in Tokyo.  This game convention in Japan is usually held twice a year in Tokyo and once a year in Osaka.  The Game Market Spring 2021 was a collaboration with Arclight, Telegames Research team (テレゲーム研究所), and Kickstarter, and Tansan Fabrik was the director, making it more of a community event with many creators participating in the organization of the convention.

In recent years the Game Market was held at the Aomi hall, but this year we were back at the original Tokyo Big Site.  The halls were very spacious and there were many game creators at the event. For me it took 2 full days to see everything, even then I missed out on seeing some booths.  Definitely visit for both days, as some creators only come on one of the days. Since the games are usually discounted from the regular selling prices, it’s recommended to visit the event and support the creators.  Also, you can get some rare games you won’t be able to buy anywhere else.

Over the past year, I have been trying to bring awareness to creators in Japan that the world is interested in their games.  So it was a wonderful surprise that at this particular Game Market, many indie designers from Japan announced that they are going to crowdfund some games so they can make an international version. These creators are the ones that want to self-publish their games internationally…

Disclaimer: Any prices seen in the photos are special discounted prices for the Game Market. These are not the MSRP.

Games heading for an international LAUNCH:

すべてがちょっとずつ優しい世界 (English Title TBA) by Twins Lion Do Books

Twins Lion Do Books is a friendly team who self publishes their games. They are a specialized bookstore team in Tokyo.  They’ve created a few games already. But what interested me was their new one which looks amazing.   The English title is still in the works, but すべてがちょっとずつ優しい世界 translates to something like “A world where everything is a little kinder“. They announced at the Game Market that they want to try Kickstart this game for international gamers.  If it does well they may release more games internationally.

The game is based on the manga by Daisuke Nishijima (西島 大介). He also illustrated the card game. His manga is a heartfelt manga written in 2012. It was written after the 2011 Big Earthquake disaster in Japan.  In the manga, there is a small village surrounded by darkness and day never comes. One day a man comes and asks if he can build a “tree of light”…

The card game is based on the same premise.  The rules were designed by Taiki Shinzawa (新澤 大樹) who created Mask Men (Oink Games), and many more. In すべてがちょっとずつ優しい世界 players must take a risk and try to collect 7 unique resources to win the game.. The artwork is really unique. The game is a wonderful compact box which resembles a book.


Vent by Uesama Games

Uesama Games comes up with a lot of fun games each year.  Last year I had the privilege to check out Brain Flipper Sheriff. The artwork was really cute, and I fell in love with the cute Cactus sheriff character.

This year they came out with new games.  One of the newest games they announced is Vent.  This game is so new that we only saw the prototype at the Game Market.  The artwork to this game is illustrated by Ms Sai Beppu, who also illustrated such games as Aqua Garden.  In Vent, players are birds who fly over the landscape to explore.

Since this is a brand new game, I’m not sure what information has been revealed. But they also announced this game will be launching on Kickstarter for an international release in 2021.

This is a prototype from their booth

Jurata by Mousou Games☆

Mousou Games☆ (妄想ゲームズ☆) They came all the way down to Tokyo to join this event.  This team of creators have made a wonderful line of small box games for gamers of all ages.  Tasukete Princess (Help the Princess) was designed by the designer and his daughter.  She came up with the cute title .  

Their main new game was Jurata which we mentioned in our previous Game Market preview.  It is a game where 2 teams compete against one another to find the right number of dinosaurs the fastest. It can be played with 2 players, but having a team is more fun.  More great minds to help you find the dinosaurs in the least moves possible.  Mousou Games☆ is hoping to Kickstart this game so international fans can support their small company in internationalizing their games.

More games from the Game Market

Astromino by Professor Yu Otaki  

Astromino is a worker placement game that uses the probability of the dice. It was launched on Kickstarter at the end of 2020 by Ms Yu Otaki who is a game design professor, illustrator, and game designer. This was her first international release. She published the game herself and handcrafted and designed the wooden Wheel of Fortune, which she only made about 40 copies of.

In Astromino players are sisters of an order who collect fallen stars to use as resources to build facilities over 3 seasons. Each season consists of 10 rounds. Each round has a morning, building, and night phase. 

In the Morning phase, the active player draws a random dice and rolls it. Players select as many workers they want to use, up to the number of Grace tokens they have. Then one at a time, they place their workers on the roulette-style board where they attempt to game more resources by predicting where the stars will fall that night.  

In the Building phase, players who chose to build can do so by paying resources. Buildings will net VP. In the night phase, the active player draws a 2nd dice and rolls it. The numbers of the 2 dice combined will indicate where the stars fell. Players who predicted correctly will gain more star resources. 

It is a beautiful self-published game from Japan, and I love the story of the game. I look forward to more games designed by Ms Yu Otaki. 

500yen games ….

Over the 2 days, there were a couple of booths that sold 500yen games. I love small box games, and since they were only 500yen I could buy a lot of them.  Each one had a unique theme. Unfortunately my Japanese is not good enough yet to read all the rules, but here are the ones that interested me because of the title. These doujin (indie) games components were well made.

This one stamped had wooden pieces and dice

Let’s make a bus route – the Dice Game by Saashi & Saashi

Roll and Write is one of my favorite mechanics in a game. This is a new version along the theme’s of their previous Let’s make a Bus Route game released in 2018. The new 2021 Dice Game is for 1-2 players. Players alternate back and forth being the active player. Players becomes the active player 12 times each. The active player rolls all 6 dice and choosing 3 dice to resolve, then the other player can only choose 1 die from the remaining to use as “movement” dice.

The active player who chooses 3 dice can choose which item/area they want to collect. There is a special area they can use the dice for where they can unlock special abilities (example: add a bonus dice before you roll). They’ll need to collect items along a track to gain points for each track. But they can gain infringements as well (e.g. driving through traffic jams) will earn negative points. The more times a player does that same infringement the negative point penalty per infringement increases.

When it’s the player’s turn to only choose 1 die they can move the bus depending on the movement key, but each type of movement only can be used 2 times each game. When the bus reaches certain landmarks, that player can score.

The solo play has the same feel, but the player only use 5 dice instead, and plays twice – once with the pink bus, and once with the blue bus. It’s a very Japanese thematic game. It really has the feel of traveling around Japan catching the bus, the University Student or Grandma that catches the bus, as well as Japanese tourist spots to visit.  The map board is double-sided, and the player board has the solo player board on the reverse side.

The box insert event has a felt mat attached

Trumpen by Kujiradama

I only visited the Trumpen booth for a split second because their booth was always crowded.  I only played their game once over zoom but it was so fun. We reviewed the rules in our previous preview.  I finally got a copy of the game (actually I bought 2, to give one as a gift or in case it is a limited run) and the quality is really good.  

The box is also compact and it comes with colored markers, and an eraser, as well as these cards which can be written on.  This ability to write on separate cards is quite unique and may open up new game mechanics in the future. I tested the cards and they erased well without leaving any residue. It is definitely a great game to have in the collection if you like trick taking games.

Other games from their booth

Until next time:
Here are some photos

This report was a long one, so I’ll end it off with lots more photos from the Game Market Spring 2021.  I hope you enjoyed looking at these games with me.  A lot of the games from the Game Market have a tiny print run, sometimes only 40 copies are made. So when these creators reach out to launch a game internationally, supporting them will help them make more.

Meeple buttons
Three star zoo (三つ星動物園)
A Tatami roll & write game
Magicalligraphy hand-made limited
Yura Yura Penguin booth by Ms Ryoko Yabuchi
Nanairo Ajisai by Nanatsumu

About missmerc007

A board gamer living in Japan who loves to help Japanese designers, and share news about board gaming in Japan.
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