Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 29.07.2013 2

Review for Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale on Nintendo 3DS

After a disappointment with the release of The Starship Damrey and a Bugs vs Tanks that performed only marginally better than one would have initially expected, comes this third and last title in the Guild 02 set of games: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. Initially released as the first of the three aforementioned games in its homeland of Japan, this title was designed by Kaz Ayabe, whose name may not be as familiar to western audiences as Keiji Inafune. He is indeed primarily known for a specific series of titles only released in Japan for Sony PlayStation platforms, called Boku no Natsuyasumi, which, as will soon be found out, shares similarities with the title in this here review.

Attack of the Friday Monsters didn't look like a massively impressive title from the outset. The basics of the plot didn't do much to get people hyped up much at all. The premise of the game is to incarnate a young schoolboy named Sohta who lives in a suburban area near Tokyo in the 1970s, where giant monsters appear every Friday night; nothing to get overly excited at first glance.

Deeper examination, however, reveals that the plot of the game is rooted deeply into Japanese pop culture of those years gone by - primarily in the Kaiju movies of the 1950s. Some may not be familiar with the term, but the majority of people are bound to have heard of some of the giant monsters these movies depicted, such as Godzilla, Gamera, or even Mothra. The game actually is set at a time when some of the first "hero" movies and TV series started appearing, putting such classic lovable heroes as Ultraman into the hearts of children instead of the gigantic and not so friendly monsters. There, the concept of the game starts to unfold a bit more and already starts feeling more interesting - at least from the point of view of someone interested in Japanese pop culture as a whole.

The stylistic presentation of the game, which was perhaps the most interesting aspect to it at first glance, doesn't disappoint, either, with a hand drawn style, full of shiny colours that's not without a reminder of the greater classics of Japanimation that Ghibli movies are. The little character Sohta travels this little hamlet outside Tokyo, seen from fixed camera angles (think Final Fantasy VII to IX), inhabited by characters that are moderately well modelled in 3D.

Screenshot for Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale on Nintendo 3DS

The little thing that disappoints here is that the hand drawn 2D nature of the game means that there's no depth to it once the 3D effect is activated, which would have otherwise made an even greater visual impact. Indeed, when the 3D effect is turned on, only the odd foreground element stands out on top of the rest of the background upon which the action truly takes place, meaning the 3D depth slider will mostly remain turned off throughout the adventure.

Sohta only recently moved to this town from, apparently, a remote area that doesn't have its own TV station, or even trains. As a result, anything remotely modern, by Japanese 1970s standards that is, sounds like something to be excited about to him. Set during the summer holidays - see here the big similarity with the Boku no Natsuyasumi games, which literally means "My Summer Holiday" - the game starts with Sohta being sent on a delivery errand by his mum, who works with his father as dry cleaners. En route, he starts getting to know the people in town and soon befriends other kids from the same school he goes to.

The group of kids only talk about one thing: the big gigantic monsters that appear every Friday night. They're not the same monsters that appear in the TV shows on the local TV station, surely not. They're the real deal! Naturally, they get curious and want to investigate their origin, the huge and deep footprints they leave behind, what they're here for and why it is that they only appear on Friday nights.

Screenshot for Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale on Nintendo 3DS

At its core, the game is a sort of classic graphic adventure game, without the point and click nature, as the aim is to go around town, getting to know people and solving little puzzles to advance the story. While this may not sound like much to be excited about yet, the true brilliance of the game is found in its writing. The humour and situations the kids find themselves in, which could be easily likened to a kid story like "My Neighbour Totoro" by Hideo Miyazaki, are absolutely adorable; especially for adults with a kid's heart inside. Not only that, but it's also an admirable little tale of kids' gullibility and naivety, but also of some adults' incapacity to listen to kids and take them seriously; kind of like in "The Little Prince" of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for those that know it. Such comparisons will reassure that this is no small story, here, but definitely a unique and well executed one, like no other available on the eShop.

The way the story unfolds is pretty clever in its own way, too. Each small plotline, intertwined within the rest of the story, is labelled as an "episode" and they all unravel in parallel to each other. There's no telling which episode will make another advance, and the episode list is there to tell players how much of the story has been discovered, since they are all listed as "incomplete" or "complete." If the situation gets tricky, the mini map on the touch screen always has a little exclamation mark indicating where to go next to advance the main story, or numbers to tell of available interactions with NPCs to advance a certain numbered episode. In that sense, the player is never lost in the somewhat non-linear nature of the game.

Screenshot for Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale on Nintendo 3DS

Throughout the game, as another means of advancing the story, the kids also engage in Kaiju card battles. Those cards have to be reconstituted by the hero by collecting card glims that glitter on the ground all around town. Cards can be merged together to make stronger ones, and each has a value that corresponds to strength, but also a rock-paper-scissors symbol that gives it the power to win against the corresponding weak cards, regardless of strength. This is pretty much the extent of the depth of the concept behind those card battles, but they're not so easily won, either. Winning card battles against the other kids is sometimes required to advance some of the side-quest in the game, because winners become their opponents' boss among the gang of kids, and some of them will refuse to talk about certain topics unless Sohta becomes their boss.

The presentation value is absolutely incredible. The story is, at certain points, narrated by a cheerful kid girl's voice (who turns out to be one of the NPCs) in a very adequate way, and the game opens with a sing-along song akin to the aforementioned Ghibli movies, which instantly becomes a true classic. The only problem at the end of the day comes from the short nature of the game. The main story gets cleared in three to four hours max, without rushing through it, and about the same amount of time is required to explore every aspect of the game. This may not sound like much value for money at the asked price, but the excellent presentation of the game and its poetic views succeed in keeping from being disappointed by the purchase.

Screenshot for Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Though it didn't seem like much at first sight when it was first announced, Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale turns out to be a unique and absolutely fun little game with surprisingly good visuals and audio for its type. Its kiddy nature and multiple levels of reading into its plot may make it unsuitable for the more stern adults, but anyone who kept the child within well alive and kicking should be able to appreciate all of its intricacies and good-natured fun. It's a short game, even for the price of an eShop game, but one that most people won't regret experiencing.

Developer

Level-5

Publisher

Level-5

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

What a surprise! I really thought it would be:

The Starship Damrey -------> Bugs vs. Tanks --------------------------------> Attack of the Friday Monsters

However, it seems it was the other way round!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Actually sounds pretty decent, I too wasn't too excited by the concept/plot, but may actually give this a whirl at somepoint.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

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