When Neko Atsume came to mobile devices in 2014, Hit-Point helped start an idle game revolution. People took to this app that let them place some food and toys for cats, step away for a bit and return with an opportunity to see and photograph kitties. Since then, it has been working with the genre, with Spoon Pets offering a similar concept as Neko Atsume, only with the Sega Toys characters replacing the felines. Now, it has offered a twist on the genre with Tabikaeru: Journey Frog. In so doing, it has become a no-pressure idle game that provides genuine joy whenever it is opened.
Tabikaeru is about your friendship with an adventurous frog. Upon opening the app, you are asked to name your little buddy. After harvesting some clovers from his garden, the game’s in-app currency, you are asked to help him prepare for his journey. You purchase and place items in his satchel, which can range from one-time-use items like food and charms to multiple-use items like towels he will wear on his head or bowls he will use as a boat when he comes upon a river. After you have provided him with items, he will take a little time to prepare for his trip. He might have a snack, write at his table or even double check his knapsack.
Once the frog has headed out is when the fun begins; this is the waiting game. Depending on the quality of food he has been given, the charm he might have and the equipment he can use, he will visit different places. You have no idea where he may or may not go. You do not know what souvenirs he will send back for you to give to other creatures, like a friendly snail, who stop by. You just know that he will absolutely check in along the way to let you know he is thinking of you and that he will one day return.
What is nice about Tabikaeru is that the game does a nice job of starting people off well. The first item you can afford for the frog is essentially a sort of cookie and a four leaf clover charm. This was enough for him to reach a castle on his first trip and send back a photo to me. Then, that next time you open the app, you get 500 clovers and another four leaf clover charm, enough to seriously invest in some equipment for him and better food. This means each time he goes out, he might go further and see greater things.
There is something so soothing about Tabikaeru. It is not like Neko Atsume, where there is this pressure to keep checking in and attempt to catch these cats. The pace is much slower. It does not matter how long you take to come back. Your frog may not have actually gone out on his journey yet. And if he is gone, it could be hours, maybe even a day or so, before he actually comes back. It is the very definition of leisurely. This means it also feels like you can do a lot even if you do not have a lot of clover to spend. As long as you can afford one of the mid-range foods, perhaps a sandwich of some sort, the frog will go rather far on his journey. Odds are, you’ll have some trinkets and a gorgeous, whimsical photo waiting for you.
Tabikaeru: Journey Frog is just a thoroughly pleasant game. It is cute and charming in a way Neko Atsume isn’t, as it is more low key and does not make you feel like you need to constantly be checking in every half hour or hour. You could very well pop in once a day, maybe once a week, and still enjoy yourself. This froggy friend is always thinking of you and, if you take the time to remember him too, you will not regret it.
Tabikaeru: Journey Frog is available for Android and iOS devices.