Chinese Parents: A Fun Game Where You Try Not To Be A Disappointment (Again)
Are you one of the many people who bought a Nintendo Switch during Circuit Breaker and are looking for a new game to play (after clocking 500 hours on “Animal Crossing”)? How about a game where the ultimate goal is to please your Asian parents?
Yes, you read that right. “Chinese Parents” is a digital-only game that has just been released for the Nintendo Switch. The original Chinese version of “Chinese Parents” was out on Steam back in September 2018, but the popularity of the game led game developer and publisher Moyuwan Games and Coconut Island to translate “Chinese Parents” to English for western audiences (and ang moh pai like me).
Now, who can resist a second shot at pleasing their Asian parents in a controlled video game environment? Here’s how it went.
So, what’s the game like?
Think of it like “The Sims”, but here, you only have control over the child. Once the game reveals “your” gender, you can name him/her. Then, you have 48 turns to take yourself from infancy to high school, where the game ends in the Gaokao – China’s National College Entrance Examination and the prerequisite to entering adulthood.
The 48 turns will take you roughly four to five hours to get through. Yes, it may seem short, but there’s a surprise waiting at the end. More on that later.
Don’t disappoint your parents (again)!
Here’s how a typical turn plays out.
First, there’s the mind map. Each square represents one of your stats and tapping one of the tiles unlocks more tiles surrounding it. Tapping each tile costs you Action points, but you’ll want to look for the special tile that advances you to the next mind map, refreshing your Action points and giving you more chances to increase your stats or gain Knowledge.
With Knowledge, you “buy” activities that you use to schedule your day with, which starts with learning to roll when you’re a baby, to more studious stuff like learning Chinese and English or practising the piano. It may sound confusing but, trust me, it’s quite easy to follow.
You’re then required to schedule these activities – divided between studies and entertainment – for yourself. The key is finding the right balance between both – if you mug too much, you’ll end up stressed; playing around too much equals disappointed Asian parents! These are represented by a yellow and blue bar surrounding your character.
As the in-game you slowly grows up, you’ll end up with many more activities to schedule – and not enough time. It’ll be even harder to attain your lofty goals of acing your studies, becoming a top athlete in school and, at the same time, killing it as the popular kid. Kinda like real life, TBH.
The delicate art of receiving ang bao
The cool part about “Chinese Parents” has to be the random in-game events. These simply play out, give you multiple choice questions or have you play a mini-game, which affects your stats.
In one event, my in-game Dad shut down my dreams of becoming an artist and told me to become a sales manager like himself. Talk about disappointing your parents with poor career choices! (Coincidentally, this really did happen to an artist friend of mine IRL).
The mini-games are extremely funny. There’s one where your in-game Mum engages in a kiasu battle against your auntie or neighbour: they – get this – compare your achievements in something called a “Face Duel”! Another mini-game has you accepting an ang bao from your auntie. You can’t accept it quickly as your parents are sure to “lose face”, but if you reject too strongly, then your auntie will “lose face”. Sound familiar? Definitely something I grew up with during Chinese New Year.
Working and falling in love
More options do get unlocked as you “grow up”. One of the first will be paid jobs, where you can help around the house for a quick buck. Yes, there’s also a shop to buy items that could either reduce your stress or unlock more entertainment options.
Once you’re old enough, the game unlocks love options. At first, I tried to go for Yori Qin, but after numerous failed attempts, I eventually fell for Selene Wang as she’s the athletic type (and reminds me of my bae IRL). But I stopped midway as studying is more important to please my parents! Unlike playing the game as a guy (you have to constantly talk and flirt with your chosen girl), playing as a girl is easier as you passively increase your “relationship points” with the guy you choose.
When your 48 turns are up, the game tells you your Gaokao result, and you get a little report reminiscing about your life. You also find out what you become as an adult. Finally, you’ll have the choice to choose whom you want to pursue for marriage.
Now, the interesting part is that you can continue the game… as your own child! Yes, you get married, the stats you’ve gained throughout your life (of 48 turns) are passed on to your child, and you begin the whole game again. Thus, your quest begins anew as a member of the next generation to please your Asian parents (yourself?).
Should you buy this game? Yes!
Overall, I’d recommend “Chinese Parents” as an easy-to-play, fun life-sim game. Its satirical take on traditional Chinese customs are sure to remind you of your own childhood (traumas). There are some English translation issues in certain scenes, but it doesn’t take away from how much you’ll enjoy this game. Plus, it will only set you back about S$18 on the Nintendo Switch. That’s an Asian parent-approved price point.
“Chinese Parents” is a download-only title on the Nintendo Switch for US$12.99 on the US Nintendo Store. It’s also available for PC on Steam for S$10.