The developer took inspiration from regular rewatches of Studio Ghibli‘s Spirited Away – the section where ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino helps look after spirits at a bathhouse – which has formed the basis for the gameplay, the Japanese setting and the game’s aesthetic.
There is a dark cloud hanging in the skies above Izajima, its effects weighing heavily on the island’s inhabitants. There are mischievous spirits known as yokai that are messing around in the island’s hot springs and the great Onsen Master – keeper of the hot springs and healer of ailments – has vanished without a trace.
You will play as the Onsen Master’s apprentice Mu and must work to restore balance and uncover what happened to the Onsen Master. Managing the hot springs’ customers in arcade-style single and two-player co-op, you will need to run around the hot springs, wrangling wandering customers and preparing the right concoctions to pour into their baths to cure their ailments.
“As a publisher, we always try to find unique games that can appeal to anyone and everyone,” explains Whitethorn Games CEO Dr. Matthew White. “Onsen Master fits that criteria, and we’re really proud of everyone at Waking Oni Games for the work they’re doing to bring the game to the finish line.”
Waking Oni Games founder Derrick Fields adds: “Our studio prioritizes lifting up underrepresented voices, and one of the ways we do that is by working with developers of color. It was great to find a publisher that has the same core beliefs that we do, and it helped reaffirm our mission of representation and cultural intersection.”
The publisher has outlined the game’s key features as below:
- Spring Fling: Experience a short and sweet story for up to two players, and unveil the island of Izajima in a visual novel style narrative with a cute anime aesthetic.
- The Customer is Always Right: Skip the story and dive right in with Arcade Mode! Choose one of the six hot spring levels to put your customer service skills to the test.
- The Heat is On: Take on others in a competitive couch multiplayer mode where players must each work to manage their customers within the same hot spring.
- Spa Music: An original soundtrack full of tunes akin to a Feudal fairytale, composed by Dorrell Ettienne.
Onsen Master will release digitally on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch worldwide in Summer 2022.