Screenshots can be deceptive. Back in the day, when I owned an Amstrad CPC 464, I would often be disappointed by the games I bought. The graphics, of the software I had purchased, were much uglier than the images plastered on the box. Gullible me had been duped by sneaky publishers, who would promote their wares by using pictures from the more advanced Amiga version. I guess the practice continues to this day, in trailers that use rendered cut scene footage rather than gameplay visuals. Tokyo Tattoo Girls is another example of a release that misled me with its imagery. At first glance it looks like a strategy game, but in actuality it is a glorified clicker, were you wait around and click the briefcases of cash that sporadically appear.
Tokyo Tattoo Girls is set in the city of London. Just kidding! It takes place in Tokyo. Despite what I wrote above, the game isn’t so disingenuous that it doesn’t feature the titular capital. Anyways… a disaster has struck the metropolis, which has led to the government cordoning Tokyo off from the rest of the country. Devoid of state administration the area’s wards have been taken over by twenty-three girlies who are empowered by mystical tattoos. Players take control of a tattoo artist who has joined forces with a cute waifu, who harbours aspirations of ruling the entire city some day. In order to accomplish this goal players will have to build up a syndicate and invest the funds they procure to cover their lady with more ink than Kat Von D.
For the most part the game plays itself. When the campaign begins you select an area to invade and from there your empire gradually spreads across the map. Turf wars occasionally break out, which deplete your clan’s honour meter. If the honour gauge hits zero your conquest of Tokyo ends in a premature game over. Paying bribes can thankfully reduce the likelihood of honour-sapping conflicts erupting. Alternatively income can be spent on tattoos that bestow passive bonuses. Clicking on the briefcases that manifest on the map collects racket money. It’s also possible to generate cash by playing dice at the gambling dens. The buxom croupier who rolls the D6 cubes flaunts her cleavage more than a female Twitch streamer.
My rating for Tokyo Tattoo Girls is two stars. I don’t hate the game, like some other reviewers do, but I can’t award it a higher score due to the lack of interactivity. Despite what the game’s convoluted tutorial suggests, Tokyo Tattoo Girls is far from complex. I would file it under the category of “podcast game.” Something that doesn’t test my concentration skills, but at least serves the purpose of keeping my hands occupied whenever I partake in an audiobook listening session. One thing that puzzles me about Tokyo Tattoo Girls is its high frequency of load screens. If the PlayStation Vita can handle 3D games seamlessly, why does it need to pause so often with Tokyo Tattoo Girls’ less demanding text menus and still pictures?
I am surprised that NIS America localized Tokyo Tattoo Girls, when there are far better Japanese titles still awaiting a Western translation. Tokyo Tattoo Girls would work better as an inexpensive mobile game rather than a twenty-five quid Vita product. On the plus side the character designs are nice. Whoever is responsible for the game’s artwork deserves to work on a JRPG or visual novel. Apart from the anime girls I also thought that the tattoo outlines looked impressive. No wonder that some people endure the discomfort of adorning their skin with skulls, names of loved ones and Final Fantasy characters. Speaking of Final Fantasy, which monster gives the best tattoos from that series? The answer is Cactuar, because he has one thousand needles!