|Reference added: 293|
"The wacky music input "Ribbon" games, "Vib" and "Mojib.""
NanaOnSha, who I think must be a Sony studio or something, return from their sorta cult PS1 hit "Vib Ribbon" (see entry 293) with another wacky rhythm game involving user input to make music and a little doodle character who follows along with it.
Whereas in Vib Ribbon you changed the playfield by changing the background music, in Mojib Ribbon you can, once you pass a certain state in single-player (this is hearsay, mind you, as I haven't gotten that far yet), input your own Japanese text. And in this game the text itself is the playfield: Mojibri or whatever his name is strolls along on top of a circle composed of a sentence of Japanese characters, "rapping" out the lyrics as he goes along. The speech-to-text technique used here is pretty good, and although Mojibri definitely sounds a little robotic, his voice has a pleasant tone.
So our little doodle rapper strolls along, at the start of each stage he's just walking on blank cloud word spaces with a circle in front of them. He's also carrying a big calligraphy brush, and there's an animated inkwell on the left side of the screen. Aha! What you do is control his pen: push up on the right analog stick so that he swirls it over his head, charging it with ink, then push down right as he gets to the start of a word, and he'll paint it out as he walks along. Let up at the end of the word and get ready for the next one. Once you've written all the words, press up at the end of the sentence and you fill up your inkwell and advance to the next stage, or stage sub-section more likely.
Now, if you screw up the timing of the down-press, Mojibri takes a tumble and spills ink. He also has to wait for the word to come around again so that he can take another shot at writing it. Walking and writing also use ink, so you gotta try not to spill any of it by screwing up your timing. If your inkwell runs dry midstage Mojibri devolves into a lower creature with a restored inkwell--devolve three times and it's game over.
There's some kind of subtlety to loading the ink before writing words, and letting up at just the right time at the end of a word. I know that if you hold up for too long your letters come out all fat and blotchy, and if you don't let up soon enough your last letter comes out extra-blotchy. I'm not sure if these penalize some kind of overall score, but I'm pretty sure that they waste precious ink, so you want to try to perfect your timing so that you get just enough ink to write clear letters, and don't leave an extra blotch at the end.
And aside from the custom-text-entry, that's about it. Well, it looks like you can also send and receive text over the internet somehow, or through some kind of USB connection (?), but I'm never going to touch that stuff. All the control is just up/down on the right analog stick. This seems a little overly minimalistic when you hear about it, but the stages of course ramp up in speed, staccato nature of the words and how much, or how little, ink you get per sub-stage, so things get challenging very quickly. A simple game, yes, but it takes very good touch and timing.
As in Vib Ribbon, the sound and graphics present a very unique world. Mojib Ribbon has some really nifty ink effects, and for instance when Mojibri falls down with a heavily loaded brush, ink spills everywhere and soaks into the foreground and background briefly before eventually fading out. The background itself is composed of a misty and ever-shifting semi-space of floating and zooming calligraphic locations and creatures, for instance in one of the earlier stages you'll see paintbrushed birds flying across the screen way up high.
The rapping, of course, provides the main soundscape, together with each stage's musical theme. Mojibri's cute little semi-robitic voice has a lot of charm and chances are that you'll sort of be tapping your toes or some appendage or other even while you're cursing your lack of timing or waste of ink.