going into Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The delightfully green-hued world and the Gameboy-like graphics had caught my eye, but I had no idea how the story was going to unfold. As it turns out, that was perfect for setting me right in the shoes of the protagonist, Honeydew.
Melon Journey, developed by Froach Club and Poppy Works, follows Honeydew on a course to find and reunite with her best friend appropriately named Cantaloupe. In a world where melons are restricted foods and even banned in some cities, Honeydew and Cantaloupe work in a factory, in the marketing department for the Melon Soda products. However, Canteloupe’s request to meet with Honeydew for lunch in Hog Town, where melons are illegal, sets off a chain of events involving kidnapping, espionage, and illegal melon-running.
On the surface, Melon Journey‘s plot is super cute and fits well with its adorable sprite graphics style. However, the game sometimes tries very hard to be a spoof on the noir-detective genre, with Honeydew as the investigator, tracking down her lost friend in a world riddled with gangs, cults, and illegal drug, err, melon-running. While this usually works, Melon Journey doesn’t quite commit to the bit hard enough, and not everything in Honeydew’s world ties in with the noir spoof, leaving some parts feeling a little awkward and tacked on for comedy. The two halves of the atmosphere don’t mesh as seamlessly as they should, unfortunately. However, the plot is still interesting and Honeydew is an adorable protagonist who is easy to cheer for.
Honeydew’s cast of associates and enemies is fairly one-note but still interesting. From the Cavity Crew, a gang of weird delinquents who operate out of the sewers, and Ocean Pup the contractor and boat hauler to Kitty Princess and Strong Dog, they’re a cast of wonderful and funny eccentrics. Hog Town is a weird place and the characters fit right in. While I appreciate Honeydew’s ability to play the only sane man throughout his investigation, my other favorite character was Ham Ghost Jr., a young hamster ghost who desperately wants to fit in and find friends, but can still absolutely terrify the bejeesus out of anyone he comes across. Since ya know, he is still a spooky ghost. He’s just super adorable at the same time.
Melon Journey plays like a pretty typical adventure game, and while there are a limited number of objects for Honeydew to collect and use as she goes around Hog Town, most of the gameplay is guiding her around and talking to suspects and witnesses to further her investigation and snag any clues that she possibly can. There are a number of sidequests that it’s possible to pursue, which are simply character stories for a number of prominent townsfolk. Still, you can choose to ignore those in favor of helping Honeydew find Cantaloupe as fast as she possibly can.
The green sprite art of Melon Journey was an interesting hook for the game when I saw its marketing. The sprites and all the backgrounds are rendered in a delightful pixel-art style that would not look out of place in an old Gameboy game, with a fun, retro vibe to the world. The fact that the entire game is also as green as the Emerald City of Oz is just fun to play with, as it keeps in with the theme of melons, not to mention the noir homage. Actually, If a black is green instead of black and white, does that make it a green?
Clocking in at a total runtime of three to four hours, even with completing the character sidequests, Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories is a short and sweet slice of fun. The plot and characters aren’t as cohesive as they could be, but Honeydew is a fun protagonist to follow and the old-school art style is absolutely delightful. While we wouldn’t recommend this as a “must play” even for noir-spoof fans, there are far worse ways for you to while away a few hours.
TechRaptor reviewed Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and Gameboy.