“It’s a good thing a had a child named Bobo,” says the character emphatically trying to convince me her name is, and has been since birth, Bobo’s Mom. It’s an early introduction to Mineko’s Night Market‘s lighthearted — slightly absurd — humor, which I find irresistible.
On top of the game’s distinct personality, I’m also immediately head over heels for the art style. It’s a vibrant mixture of hand-drawn, paper cutout, and 3D, which injects every moment of gameplay with visual excitement, even if I’m just walking through the town picking flowers.
The demo begins with me receiving a crafting table from the aforementioned Bobo’s Mom as a welcome gift. Though I didn’t get to see the opening cinematic, I gather from this conversation that Mineko is newly moved into the neighborhood with her father, and some previous incident involving a bridge cast some doubt over whether I am still alive. This makes several townsfolk I chat with startled to see me, with many mentioning my rumored demise.
Besides my death, it seems like the majority of my new neighbors are eager to talk about something they want (a large portion are carving ramen, but who can blame them?). However, I don’t have time to set up a noodle-filled block party, as I have to stop by my house to start crafting a bouquet made from local flowers for Bobo’s Mom.
If you were waiting to see where my cat army comes in, this is it. The grateful recipient of my gift mentions a now-closed garden and, because things in Mineko’s Night Market go from 0 to 60 in an instant, I’m soon drawn into a clandestine operation by her son. According to Bobo, the gardens are the secret base for an alarming conspiracy. The details are a little unclear, but it involves cat thefts, mysterious men in black suits, and a legendary figure known as Abe.
I’m not about to let cat thefts go unchallenged. So, without any care for my safety, I jump on the bus to the gardens to liberate the captured felines. Luckily, the black-clad agents are no match for my childish ingenuity. I sneak past their helpfully highlighted line of sight, unlocking cages, lulling guards to sleep with a radio, and distracting sentries with magazines. Conveniently, the secretive group decides to peace out when all the cats are safe. And that could have been the end.
However, being me, I can’t help stopping by each rescued cat to give them pets and every creature I interact with starts following me around the park. I delightedly collect cats one by one until I have an unstoppable host of fuzzballs. Hoping I could lead them through town, I head to the exit. The demo ends when I leave the garden, but I can’t wait to see what other surprises Mineko’s Night Market has in store.