Title: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale
Release Date: July 18, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Level-5 (Millenium Kitchen, )
ESRB Rating: “Everyone” for Fantasy Violence
Kaz Ayabe is famous for games that most people outside of Japan have never played. He created the Boku no Natsuyasumi series, which is a line of Sony games about children enjoying their summer vacations as kids do, taking part in daily tasks, making friends and savoring the season. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is a taste of that, a condensed form of everything wonderful the Boku no Natsuyasumi has to offer. It’s a slice of life from a simpler time, where kids ran around finding mysteries in a small town, while also dealing with monsters and aliens.
An ordinary Friday of errands, playtime, monsters and aliens.
Sohta is a young boy whose family has just come to a small town in Japan. They’ve set up shop as the local dry cleaners, and Sohta finally has the chance to explore his new world and make friends. He quickly becomes close with Ramen, A Plus and Akebi, adopting their love for kaiju, giant monsters, and in one day discovering his dream is to become a junior member of the Space Defense Force.
This isn’t any ordinary, small town, however. Not only is there a local TV station that films and broadcasts the Space Defense Force show, but there are real monsters that come out every Friday. And today just happens to be Friday.
Which means Shota has quite a busy day ahead of him. Not only does he have to deliver the Bakery’s uniforms for his parents and get involved in everyone’s business, finding out who each person in town is, but he also has the threat of the usual Friday monster battle looming over his head. What follows is an ordinary, small town tale that also happens to involve giant monsters and aliens.
A lot can happen in one afternoon.
It may not look the part, but Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is an adventure game. Yet, that also doesn’t seem quite accurate. I suppose you could call it living the day in the life of a grade school boy. Players control Sohta as he walks around town, and talking to people or arriving at designated areas could trigger an “episode”, of which there are 26. Each one focuses on a certain person or event in town, and episode installments don’t always immediately follow one another. For example, “Love, Courage and Confections,” the second episode, began shortly after I began the game, but I didn’t see its resolution until the last fifteen minutes of the game.
They’re an interesting and effective way way to tackle ordinary life, especially since Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale stars children who are obsessed with Japanese hero shows and kaiju. It made me feel like I was experiencing episodes of a show based on Sohta’s life, rather than seeing what happened to him one afternoon. This is enhanced by the presence of a female narrator, who’s telling the story of this eventful day.
The reward for completing each episode of Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale are Monster Glims. These are sparks that appear around town and, if seven are collected, will spawn a card. These monster cards can then be used in a collectible card game Sohta plays with his friends, Akebi, Ramen, A Plus, Billboard, Nanafushi and S-Chan. Glims can also be found scattered randomly around town, which encourages exploration.
While the idea behind the card game is cute and appreciated, it isn’t as fleshed out as it could be. The mechanics are sound, using a rock-paper-scissors means to determine superiority, but there isn’t much motivation to play after becoming someone’s boss. Though, the “boss” mechanic is an interesting aspect of Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale.
See, if someone beats another person at the card game, they become the “boss” and the loser becomes the “servant.” This means that the boss can cast a “spell” on the servant, causing the servant to fall down until they hear, “Arise!”. Servants also have to share extra information with bosses, or do what they say. It’s a cute mechanic, and Sohta’s spell of “Jiwa-jiwa, guru-guru, doron-doron, fall down dancing” is always entertaining to hear. Of course, players can change the spell in the Tool tab, if they’d prefer something different. Still, once Sohta is the boss of everyone, there’s really no motivation to keep playing. I did notice, however, that the opponents were more difficult in the epilogue.
Though, Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale‘s events aren’t limited to one afternoon. After the main game is completed, the supplemental Saturday tale opens up. In fact, many of the game’s “episodes” can’t be completed or cards collected until the game is beaten. Saturday also has new card battle opponents appear and introduces “conversation topics.” Basically, Sohta’s dialogue can change depending on who he’s most recently spoken to, with example topics being his recent popularity and all kids using the same spell on their servants. You won’t get hours of entertainment out of the after-game, but I spent enough time closing up loose ends.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is a peaceful way to spend an afternoon.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale takes players back to a different time. Loading up this eShop exclusive, I felt like a 10 year old again. Only back in the day, I was trading Lisa Frank stationary with friends, not taking part in collectible card games. Still, this is a game that resonates. It reminded me of simpler times spent enjoying a summer afternoon, while enjoying the latest activity or enterprise that demanded my undying devotion. It’s a short, sweet reminder of the past and a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale left me with a smile on my face and the wish that I could have spent more time in this rural town.