Tokyo 42 (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 04.10.2017 2

Review for Tokyo 42 on Xbox One

What happens when Grand Theft Auto-style open city, mission-based structure meets the chaotic and insta-death action of Hotline Miami, with the visuals of what can be best described as city planning by way of the Apple Corporation? Tokyo 42 is what happens and it is a beautiful disaster. After reviewing the PC edition of Tokyo 42, Cubed3 now delivers the final verdict on this Xbox One version of SMAC Games and Mode 7's release.

Tokyo 42 makes the bold promise of delivering a vast futuristic city to explore with free roaming old school GTA-style gameplay, complete with a bird's-eye view and modern gaming sensibilities. The developers actually managed to make good on their promise for the most part but sadly where this game falter's is in its execution, lack of polish and fine tuning. There are little things that can eat away at a game's quality and if too many of these nuances get ignored, then eventually the end product completely gets bogged down and what ends up is a promising title that is just frustrating to play. A lack of, or utterly limp, audio feedback, for example, is something that has been taken for granted, which at first is merely off-putting, but ultimately leads to confusing and disorienting chaos later on.

The very first and most egregious issue with Tokyo 42 is apparent right from the start as the game begins: the camera is way too far away. The sensation of controlling what feels like a wriggling ant with its legs plucked off in this game is really unnatural and is not helped by the fact this Xbox One version runs with a ton of chop. This is completely unacceptable since on the same platform is Doom 2016 running a full 1080p and 60 frames per second while the much less demanding game, Tokyo 42, is running sub-30 frames per second. This becomes extremely difficult to play in the more populated and chaotic missions when the screen is full of NPCs, enemies, and the law. This is an example of fighting the game itself and not the challenge that the designers intended. It is made worse since one of Tokyo 42's main features is to use a disguise, which is randomly generated at the push of a button, which in turn can lead to more disorientation since players now have to become re-adjusted to the sight of this new avatar in an action game with dozens of similar looking microscopic characters on-screen.

During development, the designers might have realised that there was some serious playability issue with Tokyo 42 so there are some efforts to better the experience. All bullets are rendered to be very visible and move slow enough that they can be dodged easily so long as users have grips with which character on-screen is them. The camera can be zoomed in and pulled back easily enough, although this feature is for naught since it feels like this was already designed around having large shootouts with vast distances. As a result, having the camera closer for a greater sense of control will usually result in getting sniped by some nudist about a quarter of a kilometre away.

Screenshot for Tokyo 42 on Xbox One

The story is kind of hard to follow and is of no consequence. The opening events only serve to create the circumstances of basically being a wet-worker and to do some dirty jobs for whomever. Much like GTA, the faceless protagonist can take on jobs from various characters or even grind in perpetual style jobs from a quest board. Grinding nets cash to buy from a rather sizeable pool of weaponry and features; it is all fairly shallow and wears thin really fast. Ultimately, being a sandbox title does not really amount to much and it could have been a level structured game and not much would have changed. During a mission, the game is structured kind of like Hotline Miami, but with more variation in the missions. Death is instant to everyone and the reload is equally fast.

Some of the control mapping is confounding and really needed some streamlining, like how throwing grenades require a few more steps than expected. The mechanics for how the sniping works is way too cumbersome to be useful, as well, and feels more like setting up a golf swing. There is just too much toggling and untoggling for a game like this. Even the melee attacking is ruined since the attack animation is unclear and so distant, which is worse than expected thanks to the lack of audible feedback. There just isn't any real sensation when landing physical hits and the same applies when the player-character is killed. One of the better aspects in Tokyo 42 is how the 3D platforming is handled, which works so well because of the floaty jumping that allows for a lot of control in mid-air. There is also an augmented indicator, which shows exactly where the player-character is going to land and works sort of like a drop shadow. This makes it so exploration in this pastel metropolis is easy, and the designers went out of their way to accommodate this form of navigation since, unlike old school GTA, there are no vehicles to drive.

Unstable performance aside, Tokyo 42 is a visually striking title with a very unique aesthetic, as far as sandbox crime games go. At times it kind of feels like New New York from the TV show Futurama, rather than a futuristic Tokyo, though. The design and layout of the city is rife with shops for weapons and outfits, and is full of large and weird statues. There is not much as far as interaction goes since the core gameplay is centred on basically being a mass shooter. Sadly, there is also a noticeable lack of blood and gore. Bodies phase out as if they are being teleported like in Star Trek. No matter what, the city is always clean looking and lacks any grit at all... Even in the cut-rate downtown looking areas, it always looks like a utopia made to house weak soft-skinned millennials.

Screenshot for Tokyo 42 on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


There is a lot that goes wrong with Tokyo 42. This was a concept that had so much promise but is held back by terrible design choices and technical issues. The uninvolved story really is the least of the problems and, if the action was more stimulating, then maybe this could have been a guilty pleasure. Tokyo 42 makes for a neat screensaver thanks to its art direction and bleep-bloop soundtrack. While it is not a totally unplayable game, it is, however, a chore to play and requires a ton of patience to have to deal with how unrefined it is and its general sloppiness.


SMAC Games


Mode 7





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

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   


I can't believe the FPS is that bad.  This game was already obnoxious to play, to play it with all that slowdown is completely absurd.

( Edited 04.10.2017 21:00 by devidise )

yeah its nightmarishly choppy. 

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