KabutoKuwagata is a quirky beetle battling game for the Switch

Shogakukan has released beetle battle game KabutoKuwagata for the Nintendo Switch in Japan. The game has attracted attention for the realistic graphics of the beetles, but a number of players have also taken notice of the unpolished and quirky nature of the game.  

KabutoKuwagata is set in a parallel world that is inhabited by giant insects. One day, the protagonist, who is a big lover of rhinoceros and stag beetles (hence the title KabutoKuwagata, as rhinoceros beetles are called Kabuto and stag beetles are called Kuwagata in Japanese), is transported from the real world to this other world. The other world is filled with insects that possess glowing red eyes and have become violent, attacking the humans that live there. The protagonist must train beetles to fight these insects, while also getting to the bottom of the mystery of what caused them to go berserk in the first place.

The game has drawn notice for its quirky design. For example, synthesized speech is used for the voices of the characters. In the majority of games, dialogue is recorded using human voice actors, but in KabutoKuwagata, the dialogue, text, and even the UI sounds are all produced with monotone synthesized speech, much to the amusement of players.

Tweet Translation:
Is this some kind of low-budget YouTube video…?

Many aspects of the game feel crude, like the way that the story beats all happen so suddenly, or the simple battle system that involves nothing more than trying to stop a large roulette wheel on big numbers. The lack of polish even extends to the way the game’s title is displayed on the Switch’s home screen, where it is misspelled as KabukutoKuwagata. Incidentally, from what I (the original author of this article) have personally experienced, there were no major glitches or anything that caused issues while playing the game, so the game is polished enough in that regard.

On the other hand, you can tell that a lot of effort was put into the game’s graphics. The beetles have been recreated with highly realistic models and are definitely worth seeing. There are a variety of different beetle species in the game, with male and female versions of each, and there are also egg-laying and raising features. There are even models for the pupa of each beetle, so you can tell that the developers were very particular about these aspects. The battle animations are also quite elaborate.

Even prior to the game’s release, there were some rather peculiar promotional videos that were put out, so the intention may have been to promote the game as a quirky title from the beginning. After seeing the commercials below, most people would likely be left feeling rather perplexed. You could say that the advertising was actually quite upfront, in a way.

KabutoKuwagata was produced by Makoto Wada, former editor-in-chief of monthly manga magazine CoroCoro Comic, and directed by Hiroshi Uemura, who is best known for producing the Sega arcade title Mushiking: The King of Beetles (CoroCoro Online). Both had been involved with the Mushiking manga and advertisements in CoroCoro Comic and other Shogakukan magazines in the past, and it was decided that they would team up for this project.

The target demographic for the game is elementary schoolers and those players who experienced the height of Mushiking’s popularity when they were elementary schoolers themselves. The goal was to create an RPG that made use of modern technology and was characterized by its raising elements. In order to achieve this, they adopted a gameplay cycle where crossbreeding the beetles resulted in even stronger, larger ones. The development team looked over books and scientific papers for reference, and picked out the most interesting elements. This is reflected in the content of the game, where, for example, only large females can give birth to larger, more powerful beetles.

Wada noted that the game had a considerably small budget, so the unpolished parts may have been a necessary trade off in order to devote resources to the aspects they truly wanted to focus on. While I am enjoying playing through the game, I would be hesitant to recommend it to the average gamer. It’s probably best to keep in mind that this game is mainly targeted at younger children.

KabutoKuwagata is currently available for the Nintendo Switch in Japan.

Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-03-15 20:25 JST)