Let’s Play #13: Wonder Project J2

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Josette and Bird near thier house: the Submarine “Dolphin”.

 

Ok. Wonder Project J2. I don’t know if I even have the courage to start talking about this. Seriously. I’m not joking here. Why I don’t have the courage? Well, it’s easy said…

THIS IS MY FAVORITE GAME OF ALL TIME!!!

There I said it! Is it crazy? Isn’t it? I don’t know, the thing is that I’m literally in love with this game. It means so much to me, it made experience feelings I never experienced before, I never though a videogame could do all this to me.

In many years, I’ve played lots of things. LOTS OF THINGS. But never something like Wonder Project J2. I’ve got addicted to many many games, but never like I did with Wonder Project J2.

But let’s start from the very beginning. I first saw Wonder Project J2 on an old videogame magazine, probably older than me, I don’t remember when or where I bought it or if I bought it. Basically there was this article about many upcoming games for the Nintendo 64 and there was a little description about them. There was Super Mario 64, Golden Eye 64, Super Mario Kart, Superman 64 and Wonder Project J2. Since I read its description I was like “wow that game looks pretty neat!” but I wasn’t able to find it anywhere on the internet; I mean there was, but in japanese. I gave up trying at the time, but once in a while I kept searching with the hope I could find something. And on day I finally did!

A guy named “Ryu” translated the whole game and posted on the internet a patch to translate an original japanese rom. I immediately downloaded it and tried it. It took a while to set up the emulator to make it work (this game doesn’t like emulators’ default settings, dunno why) but in the end I could finally play Wonder Project J2 after years and years.

It was around 11 pm when i made it work, so I tried the first few minutes and I fell in love with the game. I dunno what it was (maybe it was Josette’s expressions) but basically In the following 3 days, I played Wonder Project J2 non-stop, taking breaks only to eat, sleep and of course going to the bathroom. But I finished it. At 100%. I admit I had a little help from a walkthrough when I got stuck (you get stuck a lot the first time you play) but still I had an amazing time. The best 3 days of my life.

Now you might be wondering what’s this game all about, that I love it so much. First things first, Wonder Project J2 is the sequel of Wonder Project J for the SNES, but you don’t need to have played that to play this game. Of course if you played the first one, you can see some connections between the two games, but you could play Wonder Project J2 and then Wonder Project J without problems of not understanding what’s going on in the second one.

Next, let’s get talking about the game. This is a Nintendo 64 game, and I highly suggest you play it with a controller of some sort. It’s not like with the keyboard isn’t possible, but to get the full experience I’d suggest the use of a controller. The game’s genre is what I’d define “growing game” or “teaching game”, I don’t really know the right words for it.

The plot is quite simple: Gijin model 5984 “Josette” is an android-girl who perfectly looks like a human from the outside. She was built by the old doctor Geppetto (who also built the character in the first game). However Geppetto passes out before properly teaching Josette to be “human-like” and sends her away from the island of Corlo (the setting of the first game) to the island of Blueland. The people of Blueland don’t really like robots in general so Josette needs to lay low, and hide the truth from everyone (until maybe she finds someone to trust…)

And how do you hide the truth of being a robot? Of course by behaving like a human! But Josette doesn’t know how to, she needs to learn it. That’s why Gijin model 5980 “Bird” was sent with her as her assistant. Bird is a flying bird-like robot which has the capability to communicate with another world. Geppetto built Bird so that someone from another world could take care of Josette.

Yes, you get it. YOU have to take care of her and teach her what is like to be a human. In both the good and the bad.

The great thing is that Josette speaks directly to you, and then waits for Bird to answer assuming what Birds says or does, refelects your opinion about what’s she doing or saying. The way you interact with her is explained to you by Josette herself in the very beginning of the game.

Infact, in the game you don’t control Josette, you control Bird. You are able to control Josette “indirectly” via the orders you give to Bird. For you, he’s like the cursor of a mouse. You can move him around the scene you are in freely (the game is in 2D) and perform actions. You can press Z to make Josette walk toward Bird (and you can press it again to make her run) then you can press R to make her stop. If you point to an object and press Z, Josette will try to interact with the object as best as she can.

When Josette does something or asks you a question (text becomes yellow) you need to answer and you can order Bird to nod (A button) or to shake his head in sign of disapproval (B button). You could press R and be neutral about it, but that’s never a good thing to do, trust me.

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A remainder that you can’t control Josette directly, rather you control her via Bird.

 

These are the controls; about the structure of the game it’s again really simple. The game is divided into two sections: the time you spend on the Dolphin (the submarine which acts as Josette’s home) and the time you spend on Blueland. The Dolphin is where you will spend most of the time. It is divided into 4 areas: The main room, the bedroom, the washing room and the outside part. Exiting the Dolphin, makes it possible to choose an area to go in Blueland. There is a total of 16 areas to explore (even though 3 of those are locked at the beginning). Selecting an area makes Josette go there and act as best as she can. You rarely get control over her actions in the areas, you usually watch what she does and then you talk with her back at the Dolphin about what happened.

To become 100% human-like, Josette needs to get a total of 25 “achievements” which are recorded in a in-game notebook. Whenever you get one, a percentage in your hud, increases by 4%. Getting all 25 achievements grants you 100% (and a very very mysterious reward). The game isn’t over as soon as you get 100%. As you might have guessed, there are some evil guys you need to fight against, so your ultimate goal will be to defeat their evil leader somehow.

The ways Josette learns about stuff are basically two: “Live and learn” or “Trial and error”. The first one is pretty simple: whenever Josette has to learn about an aspect of the human life, she needs to see it with her own eyes. Afterward, she will ask questions to you about that, and your answers will help her understand it better. The second one is when she has to develop a certain skill (ex. cleaning the floor). You have to make her interact with the item related to that skill, and she will try her best. She might guess the right way to use the item on the first try or not, in which case you need to tell her that’s wrong, until she gets it.

But wait, while you do all of that, you also have to deal with Josette’s random mood swings! She’s a girl, so of course she’s got those. And that is what you really need to pay attention to. Pick the wrong answer, and you are doomed. If she gets too angry or too sad, she might not want to do anything anymore. Even if you order her to do something, she will refuse to do so. Luckly for us, we have a way out of this: puddings. For some reasons, robots like pudding, it’s like their favorite and only food they eat. Making Josette eat a pudding, puts her in a good mood again. Whew!

Oh yeah, but you also need to keep an eye out for HP and MP. Above the screen, there’s a hud with two gauges: one represents HP the other MP. Think of HP as the physical strength of Josette. Those decreases as time passes or if she takes damage form an enemy or other sources. MP is “mental strength”. Making Josette interact with stuff (especially reading) lowers MP. HP and MP can be of three colors: blue (everything ok), yellow (almost critical) and red (critically low).

If Josette either runs out of either HP or MP she faints and you will lose 300 Corlo (the currency in he game is called Corlo) and have to wait three in-game days for repairs to complete. To recharge Josette, you can either drink potions of HP and MP (they look like oil bottles) or check the couch in the bedroom which is how you save and recharge Josette batteries at the cost of 1 day and 100 Corlo.

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Exploring the mines, looking for a hidden treasure.

 

But maybe, while you play or read this article, you’re wondering why if this game is on the N64 it’s in 2D. Well it’s not entirely in 2D. Square Enix decided to create Wonder Project J2 because they needed to test the 3D capabilities of the N64, waiting to release a new Dragon Quest. There are some 3D stuffs in the game. The item shop, has all the items displayed in 3D. The items are still in 3D when they are in your inventory but they turn to 2D when they’re placed on the floor.

And then there are five 3D sequences. The first one is the Mines (you control a 2D Josette in a 3D environment, looking for a treasure), then the underwater (you control the Dolphin in first person view, looking for treasures and fishes to catch), the skies (you control a plane in first person view, trying to destroy enemy planes), the caves and the final maze (you control Josette in first person view here).

So yeah, that’s everything about Wonder Project J2. I don’t want to spoil you more if you are going to play it. I bet you’ll fall in love with Josette. Her expressions are so well made and everything she does when she manages to achieve something thanks to you pays off all the hard work. Also the final sequence is really intense and makes you wonder what’s going to happen next every second.

Just please go and play this game right now. I really wish this game was more known in the internet because it isn’t, and I honestly don’t see why. It’s such great game. And my greatest achievement on my YouTube channel. Each video got hundreds of views and the first episode more than 1000. It’s Amazing.

I also have uploaded the english translated rom and an emulator on the internet creating a “download and play” pack so nobody needs to set up any custom settings. The emulator which I included in the pack is tested and it’s possible to play Wonder Project J2 to its end. Get it here.

Please share the knowledge of this awesome game around. It deserves it.

Let’s Play’s stats:

-First episode aired on: Sep 14, 2014
-Last episode aired on: Oct 6, 2014
-Number of episodes: 19
-Total time of Let’s Play: 8 hours and 20 minutes