Platform: Nintendo 3DS / Genre: Adventure, Card Battle
Developer: Millennium Kitchen / Publisher: LEVEL-5
There’s something truly special about the innocent imagination of a child. It is a force more potent in its creativity and capacity for wonder than just about anything even the most talented of storytellers could concoct.
This idea of imaginative wonder sits at the core of Kaz Ayabe’s latest 3DS title, ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE, and the game is a richly nostalgic as a result.
You see, Attack of the Friday Monsters is unlike any other game you are likely to play in the near future. From the moment it opens with a whimsically child-like song, it is obvious the title is something very special.
The game focuses on a young boy named Sohta from the Fuji no Hana suburb of Tokyo. The small community consists of little more than a few local shops, and a television station, but as the player soon finds out, it is full of interesting secrets to discover and quirky citizens to interact with.
Attack of the Friday Monsters pulls heavy inspiration from Japan’s late 70s “Showa” era, when creature features were common on television, and the idea of Kaiju and their ties to environmental irresponsibility were prevalent throughout the nation.
As such, much of the game’s story revolves around the mystery of why the kaiju from the local television station programs seem to come to life on the outskirts of town every Friday. However, what makes the story truly stand out is the way it begins to mix reality with the whimsical imagination of Sohta and his grade school friends.
The result, is an adventure that takes the player back to the innocence of childhood, when something as simple as an errand to deliver laundry could lead to a grandiose mystery involving aliens, monsters, and the fate of the planet.
Make no mistake though, the game is not an action-fueled kaiju brawlfest. Instead, the player spends most of their time exploring the small town, talking with friends, and running errands. It is a nostalgia fueled romp through childhood that is designed to tug at the heartstrings and bring a smile to your face, and it does so with exceeding grace and aplomb.
The heartwarming story is greatly enhanced by Attack of the Friday Monsters’ beautiful art and sound design. Character models are bright and emotive, and the environments exist as gorgeous watercolor paintings that look as if they could have been pulled straight from the storyboards of a Studio Ghibli film that never was.
The story is narrated by “the 6th cutest girl” in Sohta’s class, and while the voice track remains in Japanese, it is superbly done. With the exception of a select few background voices, the voice work and musical score are a treasure. I highly recommend you play Attack of the Friday Monsters with a good pair of headphones and 3D turned on for the best experience.
Unfortunately, while Attack of the Friday Monsters’ story shines, its gameplay leaves a little to be desired. Much of the game is based around basic exploration and interaction with a select few character and objects within the world. However, the most gameplay heavy aspect of the title is the in-game collectible card battling system which sadly is a little too simplistic for its own good.
Sohta and his friends often engage in a basic card game referred to simply as “Monster Cards.” The rules of the card game are fairly simple, as each card has a value based on the classic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. While the game does mix things up by allowing a basic card moving strategy mid match, it still remains a very simple rule set that is likely to leave many players disinterested after only a few matches.
Luckily, Attack of the Friday Monsters can be finished with only two or three necessary card battles. However, players, may find themselves interested in completing additional card duels in order to gain story based information from Sohta’s friends.
One should also take note that the game is quite short. My first playthrough only took about two and half hours to complete, with an additional half hour spent on post game monster card collection and side story completion. However, this is not necessarily to the game’s detriment, as it prevents the light-hearted nature of the story from overstaying its welcome. For the game’s $7.99 price tag, the content isn’t exactly lacking, but for those looking for the most bang for their buck, the price might present a bit of an issue.
Ultimately, Attack of the Friday Monsters is an extraordinary game. Its a wondrous coming-of-age tale, littered with just the right amount of whimsical imagination to recapture the essence of childhood. While the actual gameplay may leave more adventurous players wanting, its ultimately not enough to bring the game down. If you have a 3DS and are looking for a quality download from the eShop, you could do a lot worse than Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale.
+ Heartwarming story
+ Beautiful art
+ Superb sound design
– Simplistic gameplay