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Our Hometown in the Alley is a Visual Novel That Uses Google Maps

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Our Hometown in the Alley - Japanese Visual Novel that uses Google Maps and Street View

A new Japanese visual novel is gaining attention for its inclusion of Google Maps and Street View. Rojimaga released Our Hometown in the Alley on Steam on October 14, 2022. The game uses real-life panoramas as background locations that the player and heroine can visit.

The team’s website revealed that Kita e (Northward), a series of visual novels that Hudson Soft released for Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 between 1999 and 2004, served as an inspiration for this title. Like the Kita e series, Our Hometown in the Alley takes place in Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture, but with a specific focus on the city of Hakodate. The player and the game’s heroine will try to visit as many landmarks in Hakodate as they can over the course of a weekend, with the average time for a playthrough ranging from two to five hours.

There have been a number of visual novels featuring real-life photo backgrounds released earlier in Japan, such as the Fuuraiki series. But while those titles had the photos included in their standalone builds, Our Hometown in the Alley distinguishes itself by utilizing Google Maps and Street View.

After showing descriptions of the real-life facilities, the game will play a scene with the heroine, which also occasionally features quick-time event-based response choices. Rojimaga also added caution that the limitations of Google Maps API might render the browser-based visual novel unplayable if there are too many player sessions during the day.

The Steam version of Our Hometown in the Alley is available worldwide as of this writing with a price tag of $4.99 in the U.S., but the visual novel currently only supports the Japanese language. Outside of Steam, Rojimaga also sells the game via its BOOTH page for 500 yen. The team initially released the title for free on September 27, 2022, before it switched to paid sales and sent public press releases.

Our Hometown in the Alley is available on PCs. Rojimaga will release the title on Android and iOS devices later in October 2022. The development team also announced plans to create more games and services that utilize Google Street View.

Kite Stenbuck
An avid gamer who learned the Japanese language mostly by playing Japanese games. Especially enjoys Dynasty Warriors, Ace Combat, and Gundam a lot.