Starving for new Nintendo 64 games? Tired of waiting for delayed US releases that turn out to be worse than their 32-bit counterparts? Bored with Japanese games that are translated into English? Want a glimpse into the real world of Japanese gaming? If so, Wonder Project J2 is the game for you.
If nothing else, Wonder Project J2 will make you realize just how different the US and Japanese game markets truly are. The game's main character, Josette, is a robotic girl who has absolutely no understanding of the ways of the world. It is up to you (through a small mechanical bird that acts as your iconic alter-ego during the game) to educate Josette while you guide her through an unfamiliar world. While the premise of this game sounds sort of creepy, the game itself isn't. That is to say, Josette is not a 64-bit version of Lolita, nor does the game dip into the murky waters of sleaze. Rather, this title is an innocent, though strange, coming-of-age experience. As Wonder Project J2 progresses, Josette learns by asking tons of questions that range in topic from her current course of action, to social norms, to the best ways to deal with adversity. Josette throws a lot of tantrums in the beginning of the game, but as she progresses, thanks to your guidance, she becomes better equipped to face opposition, and proportionally more mature.
As a game, J2 doesn't look particularly special. The onscreen sprites are of passable quality, and they don't distort at all (for example), when Josette runs up to the screen to ask you a question. Other than that, and a few similar instances, the game has a decidedly 16-bit look. The sound and music won't win any awards, either, and the only speech in the game is Josette's occasional frustrated yelp. All that's left to drive the story forward, then, is text. Relying almost exclusively on text to show character interaction, the action (if you can call it that), quickly becomes a tedious chore, even for those with fluent Japanese reading skills. In this light, Wonder Project J2 is better thought of not so much as a game but a demonstration of the N64's take on artificial intelligence.
If you're a control freak who would like to shape someone's view of the world, this game is for you - that is if you can read Japanese (or have a really good translator). Most Americans will find this game to be amazingly different from what they're used to. Still, it's always interesting to see what crazy game will come out of Japan. And by the looks of Wonder Project J2, there's still plenty of weird games to be had that most Americans will neither fully understand nor probably ever see.