Game Review

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

Pacific Rim meets The Goonies

Level-5 saved the best for last in its final Guild02 release with Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. Designed by Kaz Ayabe, this is a short, very sweet interactive story about a little boy who lives in a small town where mysterious monsters appear on Friday afternoons. The game takes place in rural Tokyo in 1971 and lives on the nostalgia of the period, when tokusatsu — live-action monster shows — were popular among children.

Though the game has been billed as a “Tokyo life sim,” it's more appropriately classified as a light adventure game/interactive novel. The gameplay itself doesn’t go deeper than a card game (which is really just a glorified “Rock/Paper/Scissors” exercise) but to criticize the game for its simple gameplay would be missing the point; Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is a lovely, memorable experience that captures the essence of classic coming-of-age films, while never being derivative or boring.

Players control Sohto, a little boy who has just moved to a rural Tokyo village where his mother and father run the dry cleaning shop. His parents don’t seem to get along very well, and Sohto notes that his father seems sad and disappointed in his life. On a Friday afternoon, Sohto goes out to do an errand for the shop and meets some of his classmates, including the nerdy A-Plus, goofy Ramen, know-it-all girl Akebi and more. They teach him about Monster Cards, a popular game based on their favourite TV show, and tell him that real monsters come out on Friday nights to battle right outside town. Most players who are paying attention to the story will quickly figure out what’s really going on, but it takes a few genuinely surprising turns that turn the game’s world on its head.

Most of the gameplay involves running around town with the Circle Pad and interacting with various characters, playing Monster Cards against the other kids and collecting “glims.” Glims are the game’s only collectible; seven of the same type creates a Monster Card. The story is broken up into “Episodes,” but not in the traditional sense; the gameplay is not interrupted to transition into new episodes. The system calls to mind the Professor Layton series, where several mysteries arise throughout the game and are resolved as the player progresses.

Monster Cards, meanwhile, are — as suggested above — a fancy version of “Rocks/Paper/Scissors,” with each card having one of the three attributes, along with levels and strength points to break ties. Playing Monster Cards is required of the player, as characters will hold back information unless you defeat them, but it's very simple and easily mastered. Breaking down the title’s gameplay doesn’t really do it justice, though; the characters and world are so charming and engaging that simply exploring and interacting with characters is a pleasure.

The adventure is visually and aurally pleasing, as well. The character models are smoothly animated in 3D against pre-rendered, softly coloured backdrops, while the music, fully orchestrated, is cinematic and melodic; the sung theme song featured in the game’s opening and closing is catchy and cute.

The experience can take a little less than four hours to complete; there’s not much to do after it's finished, but players can continue to challenge townsfolk in Monster Cards and collect more glims. And for owners of any Guild01 titles, a special Bonus section is unlocked from the start, featuring concept art. It’s not much, but adds to the artisanal feeling that Level-5 has captured with the Guild series.

Conclusion

Level-5’s latest is a truly unique offering on the 3DS — it’s mostly nonviolent, heavily rooted in Japanese culture and nostalgia and has terrific production values. It’s not recommended for adrenaline junkies, and the Friday Monsters aren’t exactly the Kaiju from Pacific Rim, but for anyone looking to spend a few hours watching an excellent story unfold, Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale won’t disappoint.

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User Comments (52)

Spoony_Tech

#1

Spoony_Tech said:

It does really look cool but I'm goiong to wait for a sale as I have enough to play atm!

Windy

#2

Windy said:

Lee Great review for a great game. This game hit me as special. It's very unique as there is nothing quite like it anywhere. I know I will go through it again as it left wanting more. I hope they will go back and maybe do storylines for Ramen , akebi-chan and Billboard. I'm an over rater and give the game a solid 10. but thats just me

ScreamoPichu

#3

ScreamoPichu said:

A little over four hours? I beat it in just over two. Interesting review to read. Especially since I really didn't enjoy the game at all.

gojiguy

#4

gojiguy said:

Actually... It's not an homage to Pacific Rim... It's an homage to Ultraman, Gamera and Godzilla, the same things Pacific Rim is an homage to...:

Untitled

WiiLovePeace

#7

WiiLovePeace said:

Bought on a whim & very glad I did. Really pulls you into the world, love the atmospheric sounds. Quite the short game, but its so packed with awesomeness within the short time-span of the game that it feels like a whole experience to me. It was worth every cent I spent. Great review too, really sums up the game well :)

RR529

#8

RR529 said:

Will definitely pick it up down the line. Looks like the kind of game I could get into :)

RR529

#9

RR529 said:

@Gojiguy, actually, the review never said it was a homage to Pacific Rim...

Right in the first paragraph, they mentioned it's heavily rooted in nostalgia for the Kaiju films of the 1970's.

CanisWolfred

#10

CanisWolfred said:

Sounds good. Looks like this and Starship Damrey are both games I'll have to pick up in the near future.

Windy

#12

Windy said:

@WiiLovePeace I love what you said. You are right the game is packed with awesomeness from start to finish. No matter how short it is.....It definately sucks you in. The music and sound effects really stand out. Excellent mood setters! I really wonder if level 5 can touch on the same magic this game carries by doing story lines of the other characters or just leave it as a special game. What do you guys think?

Aqueous

#13

Aqueous said:

I'm interested, I plan to grab it but I just got Shantae and EarthBound, so maybe later.

Dyl_73

#14

Dyl_73 said:

Four hours play for the price they're asking is poor value. I'll wait for a sale. I rate my games on cost divided by hours played (which equals cost per hour). The lower the cost, the better.

theblackdragonAdmin

#15

theblackdragon said:

I think i'd suggest waiting for a sale if you're on the fence about this one. i think i've finished the game for the most part, i've got a couple episodes left to wrap up, but this card-game aspect is killing me and i'm left with more questions than answers, really. idk, it's a lovely game, the presentation is really stunning, the mechanics are all right... i just wish there was more to it than this. i'm not sure how to feel, i thought it would have played out much differently :/

guttertalk

#18

guttertalk said:

I finished the game yesterday. First, I love quirky games, even if they're flawed (like Contact and Deadly Creatures). I've enjoyed a number of average games in the 6.5-7.5 range--Elemental Masters, Lost Town-The Dust, Castle Conqueror for the DS.

I love the game's overall theme and feel. It does have a few bits of very odd dialogue (which might be poor translation)--from just plain weird statements to modern colloquialisms (which broke the 70s setting for me). But my major criticism is that this game holds your hand to a nearly insulting extent. You follow the markers on the lower screen and click A. The biggest challenge is getting your character in the right spot to get A to work.

I saw the card game required in about 3 places, but again, it painfully holds your hand here, too, showing you tips on your wins, losses, and draws and giving you a chance to swap cards.

I wish that Level 5 made it a more challenging adventure game than they did. As is, it's more of a ~2.5 hour story (with a little post-ending play focused on the battle cards) than a game . I can't see giving it more than a 6 or 6.5 at most. The setting and atmosphere are neat, but they should not inflate the grade.

KongFu

#19

KongFu said:

I bought it right away. When I started it for the first time on the bus ride home I instantly got goose bumps because of it's heart warming and artistic presentation. The first bits of the game reminded me of a Miyazaki/Ghibli film. Unfortunately it appears to be rather short with the climaxe in sight after 2-3 hours. But I enjoyed every second of it. Absolute recommendation from my camp.

KnightRider666

#21

KnightRider666 said:

I will wait for all 3 Guild02 titles to be discounted before i consider buying any of them. They just don't sound as good as the Guild01 titles.

Shambo

#23

Shambo said:

It's beautiful. The entire time, I felt like playing an interactive Studio Ghibli children's tale. Which, as nicely noted in the review, could be even more enjoyed by adults who pay attention to 'details' and thus uncover what's truely happening, only just before wondering if the logical explaination is the 'real' one...

This is one game that makes me want to own each 'guild' bundled on cart even more! Is there news about any of this being possible?

Or about a third 'guild'?

@KnightRider666 Actually, this title is especially charming. Its not as... 'game-like' as Liberation Maiden; as deep as Crimson Shroud; or as mind-bending as Aeroporter, it's just the most charming one.

Chris720

#24

Chris720 said:

I don't know what to say really... 4 hours maximum for a £7.19 price tag? That would leave a very bitter taste in my mouth...

Maybe if it goes on sale down the line, but not now. The Guild01 games were definitely better though... a lot better.

ramstrong

#25

ramstrong said:

$8 for a movie-like Interactive Fiction sounds like a great gamble to me. I think if the experience is as good as the review suggest, then I'll definitely get it. I've spent more than that buying movies. :)

The only thing that stops me from getting it is the size of the download. Over 1000 blocks. That's about 1/6 of ACNL, so will have to go to McD or something and use their Nintendo Zone connection to download this.

AyeHaley

#27

AyeHaley said:

This game deserves a 9 or 10. If you love Japan or Monstermovies you should buy this game right now. Its beautiful, has original cast and is downright magical. A bit like ghibli.

Bassman_Q

#28

Bassman_Q said:

Sounds almost like a less-heart-wrenching version of To The Moon, if anyone here has played that game. To The Moon also had lackluster gameplay, but its mysteries and its game world truly sucked the player in. If this game is anything like TTM (which it sounds like it is), then I would gladly give this game a download. :) However, I think I'll wait for a sale before I purchase this one. I already have a bunch of games on my plate right now (thanks a lot, Steam!), and I don't even have $8 on my account, let alone $5 for Shantae.

Jollykarp

#29

Jollykarp said:

@Bassman_Q It's absolutely nothing like To The Moon. Well, the one thing they have in common is that they're both story based adventure games, but that's about it. I love both games, but it and Attack of the Friday Monsters are good for very different reasons

Technosphile

#31

Technosphile said:

Haven't finished it yet, but it's wonderful. After this I think I will look into the director's similar games on PSone and PS2.

Dpullam

#32

Dpullam said:

This seems like a pretty interesting game. I just wish it had more content to back itself up. Perhaps when it gets discounted I'll get it.

ramstrong

#33

ramstrong said:

@Chris720
ACNL is 6000 blocks. 2 weeks later, I got the message saying that my Internet bandwidth has been exhausted and must wait until the next billing cycle before it's replenished. I have been very stingy with my bandwidth since then because I do play ACNL a lot, and I'm guessing that's where the bandwidth goes. :)

Klinny

#34

Klinny said:

I'm really enjoying the game so far. It reminds me a lot of Level 5's Ni No Kuni, (before anything really serious happens), and so I'm finding it a bit nostalgic haha.

Very cute, though. Definitely captures a feeling of childhood innocence.

RevolverLink

#36

RevolverLink said:

I haven't had a ton of time with it yet, but I really like what I've played so far.

Like some people have already described in the game's thread in the forums, it's almost like playing through a slice-of-life anime.

wuuds

#37

wuuds said:

@Dyl_73 I see your point but sometimes a story is just done in a set amount of time you know? It is quite expensive I agree but it's still a great game. I loved it and found to be more worthwhile than some full priced retail games I've played. In terms of enjoyment.

Windy

#38

Windy said:

The game simply put is CHARMING as hell. You do play a very young kid (sohta) who interacts with very young kids. But the storyline is pretty complicated and very well written. It reminds me of an old movie I once saw called Stand By Me. The trials of Coming of age with a very good version of Ro-shambo (the Card game thrown in). The graphics are absolutely beautiful hand Drawn Backgrounds which also remind me of a Studio Ghibli film. Although the game looks like it might be for children I wouldn't think any child younger than 12 years old would even be happy about the plot or complications of the storyline. I got in 4 hours of the game last night and could not wait to see what awaited Sohta and his friends. The music in this game is just fantastic and sets the mood for every scene your in. I can't wait to get off work today so I can dive back into Attack of the Friday Monsters. Even though this game is not a point and click it has the feel of those point and click type of RPG's. Being a big fan of the point and click back in the day with such games as Monkey Island, Beyond Shadowgate and Loom This game does it better than the previous by leaps and bounds! My unfinished rating is a big 10 out of 10! It's a free roaming play style with a point and click feel to it. I know this game will end up short but it is definately going to leave me wanting more if it keeps on going the way its going. It kinda just sucks you in. That my friends is a good thing :)

I hope level 5 is prepared to do a sequel cause I think anyone who plays this will surely want to peek in on the adventures of Sohta and his friends again after it's all over.

I had beat the game but wrote this to post in the forums and wanted to share it here also. I just love this game so much. It really struck a nerve for me. I had a group of friends growing up who treated each other similar to the way sohta and his friends treat each other. and there were always a couple of bad kids you steered clear of. But once you got to know them you realized they weren't so bad at all. I sure do wish the game would have been longer.

WiiLovePeace

#39

WiiLovePeace said:

@Windy Thanks for the kind words :) & I agree, the developer perfectly sculpted a balance of graphics, music & sounds to make a perfect little Tokyo. It's quite amazing to play, like it was just made for me as a gamer. I'd love to see them make a sequel, I'd dislike to think of the assets in this game going to waste & the game definitely left me wanting lots more :D

Windy

#40

Windy said:

@WiiLovePeace I feel the exact same way. Lets hope they tell us Akebi-Chan, Billboard's, Ramen, A Plus, Nanafushi or S-Chan's stories in sequels. I sure hope they can keep the magic of the first game. Cause that's what it seems like. A Magical Journey. I'm an old, corny, Sappy kinda guy. So this game was right up my alley

Rei7

#41

Rei7 said:

I'm glad the right score was given for this review. I can't really call it a real game it's more story driven and a slice of life kinda anime to me then a game. I really liked it, and i'm glad that I bought it. Worth my 7.99usd, even though the game is just 3 hours long for me when the credits roll.

Windy

#43

Windy said:

@WiiLovePeace At First when I saw the Backgrounds I was like what did they do here? But as I played I realized they were just gorgeous and perfect for the game. Even though not 3d they look just great

WiiLovePeace

#44

WiiLovePeace said:

@Windy I loved them straight away iirc, but what really made me mind blown was when I saw the train drive into the distance when I was in the area at the southern end of the main bridge. Also loved it when I came running down the back alley near the main bridge too :)

ljb88

#46

ljb88 said:

@Dyl_73 really? I understand the mentality, i know games are expensive, but i don't think that sounds like the best way to rate games, some pretty incredible and memorable games have been short.

Thomcan

#47

Thomcan said:

Bought this game and am already in love. We need more games like this. I never played a sim game, or any game like this for that matter. I'm in love with this world. I want to personally thank the developer and writer and beg them to make longer/full length games like this.

ajcismo

#52

ajcismo said:

Just picked this up on is $3 discount. Totally enjoyable, worth the purchase. Very charming game.

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