BADGP Reviews: Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (Level 5, Level 5)
Review: A Tale of One City
September 16, 2013
What is Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale?
Attack of the Friday Monsters is the latest in a series (called Guild) of small, “experimental” titles released for the Nintendo 3DS designed by famous Japanese game developers for the publisher Level 5. While other titles in the Guild series have been focused on action (Goichi Suda’s Liberation Maiden and Keiji Inafune’s Bugs vs. Tanks) or even horror (Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko’s The Starship Damrey), Attack of the Friday Monsters focuses on the story of Sohta, a young boy who moves to a city that is beset upon by Japanese kaiju-style monsters every Friday evening. Being a child, though, the ramifications of what’s going on are unclear to Sohta and the other children in the town, and much of the game revolves around these children getting to the bottom of the mysterious monster presence in the city.
How Does It Look?
Attack of the Friday Monsters looks pretty solid on the 3DS. Character models generally look pretty good, and the art style as a whole does a good job of capturing the look of a small, Japanese city. Don’t expect anything that will blow your mind, but the game establishes the setting very well. In terms of presentation, I had some issues with the bottom screen’s map system, choosing to show only one quarter of the map at a time, rather than some larger area. This is really only an issue as you learn your way around the town, but, until you’ve got all the pathways memorized, scrolling the map can be a bit of a chore.
How Does It Sound?
The music is fine, and some of the themes are quite memorable, which is good, because you’ll hear them quite a lot, but the real standout in the audio department is the narration and voice-acting. It’s in the voice-acting that the presentation of the entire game really comes together and achieves the Japanese-television-show feel toward which it strives. The narration is, to my knowledge, Japanese-only, but this only lends to the charm. The children’s’ voice acting is appropriately cute, as well.
How Does It Play?
You may be asking yourself, “Well, this sounds really good so far, but what’s the catch?” Unfortunately, the gameplay, or, rather, lack thereof, is what brings the game down a few notches. While Attack of the Friday Monsters’ story can be somewhat compelling, the gameplay consists of three things: 1) Moving from place to place to talk to characters, 2) Collecting “Glims” to consolidate into Monster Cards, and 3) Using those Monster Cards to compete in “Rock-Paper-Scissors” card game variant to become your friends’ Boss. Put simply, collecting several Glims of one type gives you the corresponding Monster Card. Once you get five Monster Cards, you can compete in a card game with your friends, and each Monster Card corresponds to Rock, Paper, or Scissors. Win the card game, and you become your friend’s Boss, meaning that, at any time, you can recite a customizable “spell” from certain nonsense words and make your subject fall down on command. It’s a novel system the first time you deal with it, but once you beat another character, you need never engage in a game with them again. Given that there are only a few other children in the town, this results in precious little in terms of really interacting with the game. If you’re willing to look at Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale as an interactive story and little more, you’ll likely get more than your money’s worth out of the title. If, like me, you desire a bit more, you’ll likely be disappointed.
How Does It Compare?
You know, a few years ago, this game would be much less common, and much credit is due to the games industry in taking chances and releasing more of these “experimental” titles. Level 5 is to be commended for the Guild series of games, and I sincerely hope that this risk-taking attitude pays off for them. When it comes down to it, though, I’d rather point most people to titles like Journey, Braid, Fez, and 2013 standout Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for unique experiences based around unconventional storytelling while still delivering in the gameplay department. Attack of the Friday Monsters is still well worth a look, especially if you’re searching for something that deviates from the norm, but definitely know that there’s much more listening and reading to do than actual playing.
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale may have a story that goes completely off the rails near then end (seriously, I’m not 100% sure how I should interpret the ending, and feel free to get in contact with me via the comments and set me straight if you check this game out), but it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to interacting with the game. It’s also worth noting that it took me just over three hours to finish the game, so if the length of the game truly matters to you (it’s not personally a huge deal if the content is great), that is something to consider.
BADGP Score: 6.8 out of 10