by Nels Anderson
What's Included?Well, Japan basically. All of it from end to end. The big islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku are included but the scenery also includes the small chain of islands off the south coast of Kyushu plus the far off islands of Iwo Jima, Minami Torishima, and more. Basically this means that there is a lot of area to fly with a lot of cities, islands and airports to visit. Whether flying the Lear or the Cessna many long and short flights are possible.
How's The Scenery?It's typical Microsoft scenery. If you've seen New York, Paris or the Caribbean you have a pretty good idea what Japan looks like. The highlight of the scenery is Tokyo, which being Japan's capital should be no surprise. In addition to several major airports the downtown area is detailed with many buildings, bridges, Tokyo tower, palaces and even some unusual touches like a big Ferris wheel.
Fortunately, the scenery isn't exclusively in Tokyo. Most large cities have detailed downtown areas, though not comparible to Tokyo. The big airports have detailed runways, taxiways and buildings. There are other interesting sites to visit including quite a few temples (which are hard to spot because they are relatively small), bridges, a captive balloon and the Japanese space center. Of course, there are the mountains too, including the famous Mount Fuji. It's just one of many snow covered mountains you'll see. There are also a number of volcanos.
What's Bad?As with all Microsoft scenery the documentation is the weakest part. The maps are quite small. One other thing I found confusing is the map orientation. To make the islands fit they are alligned with the printed page rather than north/south which means doing some extra thinking when selecting a course to fly. Several times I found myself flying in the wrong direction because I forgot to orient the map properly.
There are two siteseeing maps, one for downtown Tokyo and one for the Inland Sea. These are a help, but the Tokyo map covers only a very small area and the Inland Sea map is incomplete. The only way to find where the interesting scenery details are is to read the README file that comes on the diskette.
Bottom LineYes, overall this is good scenery and well worth the purchase if you have any interest in flying in Japan. There is plenty of area so you won't run out of places to visit too quickly, unlike some other available scenery. There is plenty to see and the scenery is visually interesting.
Sample Screen Capture
Downtown Tokyo, Japan from Microsoft's Japan