Giant monsters and card games make up a Japanese culture lesson.
Review written by
April 6th, 2014
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale cannot really be considered a game. While the title is an interesting personal reflection on Japan's more rural past of the 1960s and 70s, this tale is not well suited to the 3DS.
AotFM: ATT takes place in one of the many rural towns near Tokyo before Japan's mass industrialization. Players are cast as Sohta, the new kid in a small town that supposedly shoots a local Kaiju (Giant Monsters) vs. Sentai (Heroes like Ultraman, the Power Rangers, etc.) show at the nearby police station and has real life Kaiju appear in town every Friday night. As the player progresses through the rather short story, much of the tale seems like whimsical imaginings of childhood interposed with symbolic personal issues. Unfortunately, many plot threads are left unresolved and too many plot elements near the end result in a confusing mess. That being said, the game does succeed at conveying the designers' love of monster movies and Sentai shows, along with a peaceful childhood. The message is not always clear, but the story is definitely heartfelt.
The 'gameplay' of Tokyo Tale largely consists of Sohta talking to people in the small town and having events unfold before the player's eyes. Some are about Sohta and his family, while other areas shed light on the people in town. In that sense, Tokyo Tale can be considered more a small visual novel like Phoenix Wright's story segments than an actual game. There is a map to keep players from getting lost, but it is very likely they will not need it due to the town's small size. The game also saves automatically, so players almost never have to worry about doing so manually. The only other 'game' portion of Tokyo Tale involves a simple card game, with cards that can be gained by wandering and collecting 'glim' items. The card game is only mandatory once, and does not give any real rewards. In short, it is mostly disappointing and pointless.
The graphics are not bad, but since there are very few moving characters and backgrounds are almost entirely static, they are not very impressive. The game's characters are detailed in a manga style, which fits. The 3D effect can help find glims, but is otherwise only window dressing. The environments themselves portray the sort of small towns of Japan that the designers remember well, so in that sense they did do something right.
Surprisingly, Tokyo Tale has exceptional sound for such a small title. Minimal sound for most of the game along with the sounds of cicadas conveys the sleepy small-town atmosphere the designers were going for. During the more dramatic story segments however, a stirring procession of melodies does a great job to uplift the scene. It is especially impressive that instruments were used for these scenes, and for this brief period the music is exceptional.
Tokyo Tale does not last very long, only clocking in at one to three hours at most to finish. There are a few bonus stories Sohta can find from the townsfolk, but it is likely that the player will have found most already by simply exploring. Other than playing the card battles again, the game is very light on content. The game might be worth two to four dollars during a sale, but the current asking price of eight dollars is way too much.
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale is a fascinating personal work by people who clearly have a love for elements of Japan's culture. As a game however, it falls very flat and there are better, less expensive titles in the eShop library.
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