Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and we don’t get the satisfying ending that we imagine for ourselves. All of the pieces were there, but we just couldn’t fit them together in time, and our grand plans fell through. That’s just life. But what if you had the power to rewrite your story and give yourself a happy ending? That is the premise of tnk’s latest game, もしも シナリオ (Moshimo Scenario, What If Scenario) made for the Unity1Week 「Re」 game jam. In this charming puzzle game, you are tasked with reordering the events in three stories to help their protagonists reach a satisfying conclusion.
In the first story, お出かけ日和 (The Perfect Day To Go Out), you play as Hana, a sleepy cat-girl who resigns herself to staying in and sleeping under her kotatsu, which is kind of like a table draped with a blanket and a heater underneath. The weather forecast says that it’s going to rain later, and it is quite cold out besides. It may be boring, but staying in seems like the best option all around. Honestly, that sounds to me like a pretty cozy way to spend a winter day!
But alas, a tutorial shrimp pops up to tell you that this was not, actually, Hana’s happy ending. You need to reorder the sequence of events that got her here. For example, what would have happened if Hana didn’t see that weather forecast? Click the いれかえる (change places) button to move events around.
So you replace the kotatsu icon with the remote control icon to change the TV channel. And lo and behold, you catch the tail end of いいかも (Iikamo, Might Be Good!) and Tamo-san, a celebrity TV host who looks suspiciously like Tamori of 笑っていいとも (Waratte Iitomo, You Can Laugh!) talking about a roasted sweet potato festival happening right now. The festival closes tomorrow, so if you want to get delicious sweet potatoes, you need to act fast!
Hana cannot resist the allure of hot potatoes on a cold winter day, so she rushes to get her things together and go out. But, oh no! Where is her apartment key? Since she can’t find it, she might as well stay home. After all, the festival lasts until tomorrow, right? Oh well.
Lucky for her, you are a sharp-eyed player who noticed the key on her kotatsu from the original order of events. So you drag the icons back into position: first the TV icon, now colored red since the channel has been changed to Iitomo, then the kotatsu, then a cup of cocoa to steel her nerves. All of the pieces are now in place, so let’s see if it’s enough to get Hana to leave her apartment! Time to get those sweet potatoes!
There are two more episodes after this one, both of them equally as charming and sweet as this one. The artwork is all hand-drawn and quite expressive, and the writing is like a comfortable storybook that you read on a chilly winter day while curled up under your kotatsu. And I don’t want to spoil it, but the third story has you do something a little unique that ties all three stories together in a very satisfying way.
Being a narrative-focused game, there is a lot of Japanese text that you need to read in order to follow the story and solve the puzzles, but I feel like the pictures are clear and your options limited enough that you can trial-and-error your way through the game. And if you are an intermediate student of Japanese, this is a great game to use as reading practice!
What If Scenario is a game that was clearly made with a lot of love and heart. The developer tnk has in the past made other games combining cute art with simple but fun mechanics, like the adorable one-button rhythm game きゅんぴの夏まつり (Kyunpi’s Summer Festival) and the stylish action-packed DentalKnight.
In fact, one of the first games I played on Unity Room was tnk’s Cut And Turn Rocket, a simple physics game where you cut a rocket into an aerodynamic shape and see how far it can fly. This was the game that made me fall in love with Japanese browser games all over again. All of tnk’s games have this irresistible sense of fun and playfulness. If you haven’t played any of their games yet, I highly recommend giving What If Scenario a whirl, then check out the rest of tnk's library!
You can play What If Scenario in your browser. You can follow tnk on Twitter and check out the rest of their games on Unity Room. And if you want to see their games in action, we played What If Scenario and DentalKnight on stream!