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Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale Review


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On 07/24/2013 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

I don’t even know what this game is, but I love it.
RECOMMENDATION:

For everyone who was at some point a child.

Nostalgia is a powerful force, pulling you towards memories of your youth that seem so charming and innocent. It’s something we love to bask in and dream about for hours. Hearing someone wax on about their own tales of yore can be less than thrilling, though, if you grew up in a different time or a different culture. We’ve all been stuck – bored – listening to endless droning about someone’s glory days that we just couldn’t relate to. Which is why I am completely baffled that the 1970s Japanese summer vacation nostalgia trip, Attack of the Friday Monsters, kept me engrossed from start to finish and filled me with the same warmth I feel when I look back on my own childhood memories.

Even more impressive than making me care about this era and its giant monster TV shows is making me completely love the lack of interaction required to complete Attack of the Friday Monsters. In fact, the majority of your time is spent traveling across a limited town map and talking to the same ten or so inhabitants about a somewhat obvious story as it unfolds. There’s something magical stuck in all of this simplicity, though, and it’s something everyone should try.

Many of the endearing qualities are injected into the experience by the perfectly balanced localization. The script is wonderfully written to make sense to Americans, but still maintains the charm of a Japanese town in the ‘70s. The voice over work is left in the original Japanese, with text displayed on screen for you to read along – a well-tuned reminder that this isn’t your U.S. of A. boyhood tale with a twist, but one that could only be set in Japan. The contrast between our two cultures comes through even stronger in the extreme innocence exuded by all of the characters; even the tough kid isn’t all that mean and he softens quickly. If this was set in America, there would be a no-fooling freckle-faced bully roaming around waiting to pound you.

Interactions with the characters are so endearing that you’ll enjoy watching the townsfolk slowly come to realizations about the scheduled monster attacks and recent meteor impact – conclusions that you will make within minutes of starting the game. In fact, when it’s all over, you can still hang around the town and have more quaint conversations, something I found myself enjoying much more than expected. It’s fun to just wander around in the idyllic summer setting and have card battles with the other local kids, which is the central gameplay mechanic of this whole affair.

Throughout the story, you’ll slowly accrue cards to use in battles against other kids in a game based on rock paper scissors (Jan-ken, for you Otaku). Once you’ve collected at least five playing cards, you can face off against an opponent. Each player will put five of their cards face down on the playing surface and is then given one chance to move two of the cards after receiving a couple of hints. It’s a pretty good variation on the classic game with a few other twists thrown in here and there as you advance (like rock/scissors combination cards).

I went back and forth on how enjoyable this card battling game is (a type of contest I have a good appreciation for when done well), and in the end I think it’s simply the best fit for this game. It’s simple, but with enough skill and thought required to make it challenging – perhaps on the level of a game of POGs, but not as complex as a Pokémon card battle. It’s fun enough that I’ve gone back to chat in the town a few times and maintain my dominance over all the other neighborhood kids, but not so great that I think I have much more room to grow within its rules. That’s OK, though, since it served its purpose as a small draw to get me interested in playing this game at all and provides the perfect sort of activity that a group of kids would become obsessed with.

The more I think on it, the more I am convinced that there is close to no reason that I should care about this game, much less actually love it. It’s done in a cute anime style, it’s got callbacks to the likes of Godzilla and Ultra Man, and it’s basically an interactive cartoon – all things I am at best indifferent towards. Level-5 has taken this concept and done every bit of it so well that it’s completely won me over. In fact, the hours I spent in Attack of the Friday Monsters might very well become a fond memory I’ll look back on in a few years. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Cary Woodham

07/24/2013 at 07:20 PM

I'm working on reviewing this game myself.  For some reason, it reminds me of Chibi Robo.

Cyberxion

07/25/2013 at 11:35 AM

Wouldn't an Otaku call it "Janken"? :P

Okay, okay. All joking pedantry aside, I may have to check this out. $8 isn't so much that it's a huge risk, anyway.  

Thanks for the review. :)

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

07/25/2013 at 11:47 AM

You are right! Apologies and I'll make the change.

Cyberxion

07/25/2013 at 12:10 PM

Oh, no! No apologies necessary, man! I should be the one apologizing for being "that guy".


BrokenH

07/26/2013 at 12:09 PM

Love the visual style. Normally I'm not huge into card battle games but being able to have conversations with interesting people in an idyllic suburban Japanese town appeals to me due to my love of Persona 4.

Nick DiMola Director

07/26/2013 at 12:11 PM

No doubt. I think I'm going to nab a copy of this whenever it first goes on sale. Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I want to drop $8 on it.

In case you were wondering, yes, I am a cheapskate.

daftman

07/29/2013 at 07:54 PM

Dude, we cheapskates should form a club! Just don't expect me to pay any dues Tongue Out

Nick DiMola Director

07/30/2013 at 06:58 AM

Ha! Don't worry man, we have one - and it's free! In case you haven't heard of it already, I present to you Cheap Ass Gamer!

Dandichu

07/27/2013 at 09:47 PM

I'll have to check this one out! Thanks for the great review!

Dandichu

07/30/2013 at 08:12 PM

*followup!

I used my $30 promo credit to buy it- but it has a weird "load save" function from Crimson Shroud and Liberation Maiden... O.o *redownloads Crimson Shroud* xD

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/02/2013 at 12:56 AM

I am confused. Attack of the Friday Monsters has a function that is connecting to Crimson Shroud and Liberation Maiden? 

Dandichu

08/02/2013 at 05:07 PM

Yeah! When I went to start the game, it asked me if I had data from 2-3 games. Now that I redownloaded Crimson Shroud, it showed me a 15 page art book. There's even something called the "Junior Member Code Of Conduct":

Always say "Please" and "Thank You"!

Have justice in your heart, and be kind!

Never tell a lie!

Get along with everyone, and protect the weak!

When you play, play hard!

Dandichu

08/02/2013 at 05:21 PM

I tried to get a screencap but I couldn't. ;_; Maybe I can get a wonky one from my vita. xP

Aero Porter is the third game.

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