Hikkoshi, or "Lonely House-Moving" as we gaijin might say, is the latest social metaphor driven arcade game from Nigoro, the folks behind every one's favorite slapping game, Rose and Camellia. You play a lonely shmuck who, after watching his girlfriend leave him in a moving truck, suddenly gets the inspiration to act and—for perhaps the first time in his life—goes ahead and gets what he wants.
You control the guy as he runs after his girlfriend's truck, with her casually staring on ahead, the wind blowing through her hair, not noticing that her former lover is performing an act of physical endurance on Olympic par. Control the guy with the [left] and [right] arrow keys and press the [space bar] to jump and to avoid hazards like birds dropping poop bombs, cyclists, gophers, and various junk that tumbles out the back of the moving truck. Get hit and lose some life, grab some food that is occasionally thrown out to get some back. Jumping over things yields a point bonus, jumping onto things (as long as they're alive) yields more of a point bonus. Stay in the running for long enough and you win, simple as that.
Analysis: Lonely House-Moving is more than just a simple run, jump and dodge game, it's a meditation on love and what a person is willing to do for that love. The setting sun that marks your progress through the game implies a subtle sense of loss, like the sun has set on the relationship, while simultaneously all the junk that imperils you gradually lightens the truck. Eventually, it becomes so light that the girlfriend notices, and sees you, so she jumps right out the back of the truck. When you see this happen, you're suddenly jarred out of the conventional arcade-score triumph you might expect from similar games in the genre, and you're inspired with a sudden moment of ownership: you are this man possessed by a sudden exuberance. I jumped right up to catch her in my arms. The feeling is genuine.
(Note: I don't know what happens if you let her hit the ground.)
Lonely House-Moving doesn't appear to be an artistically borne game at first. Instead you'll probably think its a game trying to be artistic while having pretty basic gameplay. Once you beat it, you'll realize that the dodging of material possessions—not the cause but the mode of the girlfriend leaving—is a pretty good metaphor for the state of the relationship at that point. The gophers, birds and cyclists are a bit of a distraction from this, diluting what otherwise would be very pure, thus making it a bit more cartoonish. They could have devised junk from the truck that has similar vector patterns, maybe not identical, but similar, and had more consistency to the overall gameplay/aesthetic slipstream.
Oh, and the "art" is also high quality, lush digital painting style, great color cascades on the sunset; nice production values on the interface and pretty good character design.
Lonely House-Moving is something worth trying and sharing with your significant other.
Cheers to Psychotronic for suggesting the game!