In Konbini: A shop. A preview of many stories – the joy of Japanese convenience

Two days after returning home from my vacation in Japan, Tokyo-based developer Nagai Industries Inc. has released a trailer for its upcoming adventure game InKonbini: One Store. Many stories, and I was instantly transported back to my convenience store (“kanbini” Japanese, usually for convenience stores) days before adventures. From Lawson’s Best Spicy Chicken to 7-Eleven’s life-changing Egg Salad Sandos, convenience stores in Japan are so incredible that it’s hard to write. InKonbini is a 90s love letter to Japan’s konbinis, and after talking about InKonbini with Nagai Industries founder Dima Shen, I couldn’t be more sold.

Inkonbini puts players in the shoes of college student Makoto Hayakawa, who takes a break from her studies to help run a small-town konbini. Nagai describes the game, which will be released on unspecified consoles and PC in 2025, as a “meditative narrative adventure/simulation game” where, while playing, you’ll discover the joy and wonder hidden behind the daily routine of a konbini worker. The idea started as a “summer project”, a working title for InKonbini between two friends. Shen’s friend was planning to go to Argentina, giving them one last chance to work together, “so I let him try out the game for one summer.” Today, Nagai has eight full-time employees and a few more working on the game.

Shen says his dialogues, mixing the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai, led him to develop a “beautiful and cozy, with a positive mood, but a little sad”. Shen tells me that Japanese culture describes these mixed emotions as mono-no-aware, which can be translated as “the sad beauty of worldly things.” After several iterations, Nagai landed on Konbini in 1990, and Shen got goosebumps the second the idea was born. Those goosebumps may have been caused by Shen remembering the bright and welcoming konbini of one of his all-time favorite games, Shenmue (Nagai Industries is the cover-up name of a yakuza group in one of the game’s locations).

Shen says Nagai aims to challenge and counter the idea that a developer can’t turn this occupation into a meaningful and exciting game experience. The game’s trailer suggests that Inkonbini will have the kind of gameplay you’d expect in the shoes of a convenience store employee. But at the same time, Nagai expects players to find joy (and many other emotions) in the meta-gameplay born from another aspect of working at Konbini: talking to customers.

“The game is being built around the traditional Japanese concept of ‘ichi-go, ichi-e,’ which translates to ‘one time, one meeting,'” Shen tells me. “No situation in our life can be repeated; We cannot experience the same thing twice, and that brings a nostalgic flavor to some of our memories.

Makoto Kayakawa spends only one week working behind the counter, but Nagai feels that the new contacts he gains and the stories he hears will resonate with the players. However, don’t expect a mystery-driven plot or an investigative narrative – InKonbini is about the joys of seemingly mundane, yet connecting throughlines.

Finally, Shen and Nagai hope players can recognize the power of slowing down in a fast-paced world, with Makoto Hayakawa standing in for us.

“The main takeaway won’t be the big reveal, though,” Shen adds. “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. We want to remind players that all moments in our lives are fleeting, and even the things we’re used to, like the convenience store around the corner, won’t be here forever.

This article originally appeared in issue 366 of Game Informer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top