Review of Tokyo Tattoo Girls


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!

18 thoughts on “Review of Tokyo Tattoo Girls

  1. Hmm, in my gaming days I have had that happen to me quite a number of times as well. Being deceived by pretty pictures or gameplay imagery, and ended up coming home with an ultimately very disappointing game. I guess the saying: you can’t judge a book by it’s cover is true sometimes. But then again I still fall for these kind of things any way ( I guess I never learn lol 😀😂😂).

    • These days, thanks to the internet, it’s thankfully tougher to dupe consumers. Players have the option of waiting for a review before making a purchase (although some companies try to counter that by offering pre-order bonuses.) It’s weird how this game got a physical release. Many niche titles only appear on the digital store these days. I wonder why NIS America put so much stock into a bare bones game.

      • It really is an advantage. There are some pretty good reviews on YouTube as well, which really helps when deciding on buying stuff, no matter what it is.
        But yeah, it’s sometimes strange to discover what they decide to release when they have much better titles to choose from.

    • When I saw screenshots of the Tokyo map I was hoping this would be an anime themed strategy game, like the excellent Eiyuu Senki. Sadly there isn’t much you can do to influence what your faction does, so tactics are rather limited. This really feels like something that would be more at home on mobile, retailing at a cheaper price. All that said, sometimes mobile games can work on console, as Cat Quest proved.

  2. London?? Oh, wait… you got me 🙂 As cool as tattoos are, I’m definitely gonna give this game a pass. Thanks for the shout-out too! Cactuar totally would be a badass tattoo artist.

  3. A pity then that they chose to localize this game, when there are other, much better ones that they should bring to us! Btw, I felt sure judging by the title that this game would have a lot of fan service!

    • The trailer gave the impression that Tokyo Tattoo Girls would be one of those titillating Japanese games. Aside from the tattoo menu, which shows the back of the player’s shirtless character, there isn’t much eye candy though.

  4. Hehe tattooed female mobsters 😀 Sounds interesting 🙂
    You got me, with the London thing 🙂 I was rather confused for minute there. Wondering if this was one of those strangely named anime games, that has Tokyo thrown into the name, just for the sake of it. 🙂 But then I read on and realised how thick I am. hehe
    Great review 🙂 love hearing about the cool anime games you play 😀

  5. I remember back in the NES days, my grandparents would buy the family a lot of games based on the front cover. Even back then, they were really, really bad at communicating what type of actual game it was. That hasn’t really improved any.

    • I hope the artists who designed NES box art got paid well. Thanks to the lack of internet reviews their pictures played a big part in tempting buyers on what games to buy/rent. I think the same applies to old movies. The cover of VHS tapes was far more artistic than the stuff we see nowadays.

  6. This game looks fun enough, from you typing that the game plays itself, it speaks to my laziness and pretend productivity spiritually. I never knew that publishers put better looking images on the game cover, I always thought they did that for the opening sequence before the title screen so that you could realise that they’ve stolen your money only for it to be too late.

    • If you like games that play themselves check out Final Fantasy 12. Thanks to the gambit system you can program your party to act on their own, walk away and come back an hour later to see how many level ups they have managed to earn with no human input.

      Thankfully the days of developers taking your cash and running away is coming to an end. On PC for example you can get a refund if you play a Steam purchase for less than an hour. Some companies have ended up getting punished with that feature for rushing out software that is bug filled (such as the last Batman title.)

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