Developer: Level 5 and Millennium Kitchen
Release Date: 7/18/2013f
Available Exclusively On
The Good: Perfectly captures childhood imagination, excellent story with great writing, unique characters, beautiful graphics, fantastic soundtrack
The Bad: Odd room transitions, collecting monster cards is slow and boring, ending a little disappointing
Imagination and creativity were probably a big part of your childhood, as they were of mine. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale tackles those childhood elements with such great execution that it affected me on a personal level. Despite the fact that at surface level it seems like this game would only be enjoyable for people who grew up in Japan in the 80s and watched “monster shows” (none of which apply to me), when delving deeper I discovered that it is really about those two aspects of childhood almost anyone can relate to.
Part of Level 5’s Guild 02 series (and definitely the best game of the collection), Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale was designed by Kaz Ayabe. This is his first (and probably last) game to ever be released outside of Japan. You play as Sohta, a young fourth grader who is trying to piece together the mystery of monsters and aliens, complete his errands, and everything in-between. From the opening theme you can already tell how well this game captures childhood, with the song constantly going off-topic and containing no consistent theme. Even the gameplay portrays this lack of structure well, with missions being broken into “episodes” which are completed in a random, un-chronological order.
Every Friday monsters “attack” Sohta’s rural town near Tokyo, or so the adults tell the children anyways. Sohta and his rag-tag group of friends set out on a journey to investigate monster tracks and discover the monster’s motives. This game cleverly blurs the lines between imagination and real life, just like a young child would. Sometimes I couldn’t help but view it like an adult, and see everything as silly child’s play. However, other times I was enthralled with the monster investigation and curious as to what was gong on. Sohta and his friends are very likable and at times hilarious. The story takes some interesting turns and is thoroughly enjoyable for the three hours it takes to get to the end. My only gripe with it was that the after-credits scene leaves the game at a cliff-hanger and totally changes your perspective on what the story was.
The actual gameplay is like Animal Crossing with a little adventure and a card-collecting game thrown in. The graphics in this game are beautiful, especially the hand-drawn backgrounds, and the music is fitting as well (taking a jovial, yet also melodramatic tone). Unfortunately, progressing from one location to another is a little jarring because of the short delay and also various camera angles. For example, you could be in one area with a close-up view of your character but the next transitions to a top-down view instead. This is definitely not a deal-breaker however, and only led to minor annoyance.
The card-collecting game previously mentioned is not fun per se, but it’s not terrible either. You get cards simply by exploring or completing episodes, and can then battle opponents in a “rock-paper-scissor” like game. Collecting cards is very boring due to the three to five second long animation that plays every time you pick a card up. While this may not seem so bad, it gets very obnoxious when there are tons of cards to collect in the same area. There’s more strategy to the rock-paper-scissors clone than I expected, but it still pretty basic and incredibly easy. Beating your opponents makes you their master, which allows you to (wait for it)… cast a spell that makes them fall down. This is very odd and pointless, yet I couldn’t help but smile every time I did it.
While I mentioned previously that it takes three hours to beat the main story, after completing the story there are still many more episodes to finish and if you plan on beating them all then Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale will probably clock in at about five and a half hours. For $7.99, this is a lot of content.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is one of the few games that feels like it communicated with me personally, and that in itself makes it special. But there’s more than that to this game, with it’s beautiful visuals, fantastic soundtrack, charming characters, and excellent dialogue. If you’re looking to spend a few dollars on a game that will take you a weekend to beat, then you couldn’t go wrong with this one.