Let’s get this out of the way now: Short Peace is not a video game. Rather, the name refers to a bundle that contains a film and game. The film is called Short Peace, while the gaming part of the bundle is called Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day. Both parts of the bundle are linked together, however, as they represent various pieces of Japan’s history. Since the bundle includes both a film and game, you would probably think that the $40 entry cost would be more than worth it, right?
In Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, players step into the shoes of the titular Ranko, a young schoolgirl in modern Japan who is quite different than most of her friends. Her father is the president of the Tsukigime Express company, one of the largest parking garage providers in Japan, and she in turn, lives in one of them. That’s not the only odd thing about the girl, as she also moonlights as an assassin. To top things off, her target for tonight is her father, who she says is responsible for the death of her mother.
Already crazy enough, the plot of Longest Day quickly goes off the rails by the time you jump into the first level. While it certainly makes for a unique and twisted story, by the time the title wrapped up, I found myself confused by what exactly transpired. The story jumps from you squaring off against tattooed thugs, to battling a former friend who turned into a dragon, to being chased by a large Pomeranian. While all of that is definitely memorable, it’s not exactly coherent. I know the producer of the project, Suda51, is known for over-the-top tales, but this is a bit too much.
Luckily, the actual gameplay of Longest Day is much easier to comprehend. At its core, the title is an endless runner, as Ranko is constantly running to her right, while evil spirits (and a Pomeranian in one section) chase after her. Various smaller enemies litter your way, however, and can be handled with a swing of the sword you wield. Beating enemies causes them to blow up into an explosion of colors, which in turn, can kill nearby foes. Killing enemies also recharges the ammo on your gun, which serves as your health bar and is used to blast the spirits that chase her if they get too close.
For a game that relies so much on speed, though, I felt that the controls were rather clunky and stiff at times. Instead of the running and jumping feeling smooth, like most endless runners, it feels slow and floaty. Jumping, in particular, was a major annoyance, as during one boss battle, I died over and over again due to Ranko taking her sweet time with each jump. The other two boss battles in the game, which are completely different from a gameplay point of view, are much more enjoyable because they switch things up.
The major issue I have with Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, and Short Peace as a whole, is that their just simply isn’t enough content to justify the cost. Even if you combine the amount of time it takes to finish the game and watch the film, the total length of the experience is about three hours. At $40, that just simply is too much money for a product that has so little. Sure, you can play through Longest Day again in search of bonus content and costumes, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are playing through the same few levels over and over again.
The collaboration aspect of Short Peace is best represented in Longest Day by the amount of visual styles displayed over the course of the game. While the look of the actual gameplay sections rarely change, outside of the final level, the cutscenes each feature their own look. From traditional animation, to kind of creepy realistic footage, back to manga-styled, the animation of the title will keep you on your toes if nothing else. The same goes for the score of the game, as it runs the gamut of fast-paced electronic music during the action, to slow traditional Japanese music later on.
Before I wrap this up, I suppose I should at least talk about the other aspect of Short Peace. The film itself is made up of four different short movies, each representing a different period in Japanese history. The best of the bunch to me was Possessions, which comes courtesy of Shuhei Morita. The Academy Award nominated short centers around a lonely traveler who seeks shelter during a great storm. It’s a beautiful piece of animation and is just very pleasant to watch. This isn’t to say that the other shorts are bad, though, as all of them are worth checking out.
While Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day and Short Peace are both unique pieces of entertainment, it’s hard to justify purchasing the package at its current price point. With just about three hours of original content, $40 hardly seems like a good price for the set. I recently railed against another title for not providing enough content to justify its cost, and that game costs considerably less than this one. It’s frustrating, too, because if this bundle had been $20, or even $10 less, I could have justified recommending it. But at its current price point, I can’t recommend it to anyone but the most hardcore of Japanese pop culture fans.
This review was based off the PlayStation 3 digital version of the title, which was provided to us.
Despite its unique brand of entertainment, Short Peace doesn't feature nearly enough content to justify its $40 price tag.