Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale is a downloadable 3DS game, which is part of the Guild series. For those of you who are not aware, the Guild collection of games is made up of numerous Level 5 published titles that are available to buy from the Nintendo e-shop. Other Guild games of note include the anime themed shooter Liberation Maiden and Crimson Shroud, a role-playing game that mimics the feel of a table top RPG.
Unusually for a video game, Attack of the Friday Monsters is set during the 1970s in the Tokyo suburb of Fuji no Hana. The title’s leading character is an eight-year-old boy named Sohta, who has recently moved into the area where his parents have opened up a fledgling Laundromat business. At first glance Fuji no Hana looks like a tranquil place, but the peace is shattered every Friday evening when monsters (akin to those you would find in Ultraman or Godzilla) turn up at the quaint town for a spot of giant lizard rampage. My sympathy goes out to the residents of Fuji no Hana. If flood insurance is pricey I can only imagine how much coverage for Mothra damage costs.
If I had to classify Attack of the Friday Monsters I suppose I would say it is an adventure game, given how it has some light puzzle solving elements. Interactive game play is however sparse. For the most part all you are expected to do is traipse over to the locations marked on your map to trigger cut scenes. As the story progresses we see Sohta run errands for his parents, mingle with the other kids in the neighbourhood and ultimately decipher the origins of the Kaiju creatures that are tormenting his home. The unusual tale of Godzilla like beasties is a joy to experience, probably because the Japanese developer had the good sense not to cast Ferris Bueller in the leading role.
Aside from interacting with the townsfolk, Sohta will occasionally be required to coerce his buddies into lending him aid, which can be accomplished by blackmailing them with incriminating photos… erm I mean beating them at a children’s card game. For those with an aversion to Magic the Gathering fear not, as the card game in question isn’t particularly taxing. For all intents and purposes it is a glorified, best out of five, game of rock, paper, scissors (lizard and Spock are omitted from this particular version.) Sohta starts his adventure with a modest deck, which he can improve by collecting the shiny Glims scattered around town. Accumulating sufficient Glims unlocks new cards, whilst duplicate cards can be merged to upgrade their rating (which is used to determine the winner in the case of a tie.)
My final rating for Attack of the Friday Monsters is a four out of five. I really enjoyed it, although giving it a higher score would be generous given that the main story can be completed in a couple of hours. Visually I dug the game’s hand drawn backgrounds although the 3D characters superimposed on them were less impressive. They weren’t ugly per se, but I thought that Sohta’s walking animation looked a bit awkward in places. The game’s highlight would however have to be its story. Western audiences may not relate to growing up in seventies Japan, but the way Sohta plays with his friends did remind me of simpler times when I used to goof about with my chums. The whimsical storytelling is reminiscent of what you would find in a Studio Ghibli film, which is high praise indeed.