The lights are on
I think “life simulation game” is a label some people slap on games that are hard to describe. Series like The Sims and Animal Crossing are labeled as such, but they each come with their own unique gameplay elements to keep players coming back time and time again. A life simulation game that focuses on telling a story while almost completely forgoing any semblance of anything resembling gameplay is a risk and a rarity. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is one such game. It seeks to draw players in by offering a tale never before told in a game, and it depends on extremely basic gameplay to attempt to make its point. It mostly succeeds.
Attack of the Friday Monsters!‘s story revolves around a town named Fuji no Hana in the 1970s. Every Friday giant monsters show up in a field and start fighting. The residents of Fuji no Hana, including protagonist Sohta and his friends, all gather on a hill every Friday to watch the monsters duke it out. They are scared and baffled by what they see, but they are also intrigued.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! is really not about monsters, though, despite its title. It’s really about what it’s like to be a kid. Sohta and his friends all play together, gossip and taunt and help each other. Friday Monsters! made me truly feel like a kid again… I had to keep playing until the end because I, much like Sohta, wanted to figure out the mystery of the Friday monsters. For the most part the story is interesting, funny and even touching.
But it’s also weird, or at least parts of it are. I became so confused at one point that I literally started scratching my head. Friday Monsters! is meant as a tribute to tokusatsu (live-action creature features such as Godzilla), so strangeness is expected, but some of this stuff really goes out there. Why? I don’t know. Because Japan.
Sohta talks to his friends, parents and other residents of Fuji no Hana and they sometimes offer him quests. These quests usually require players to progress from one point to another. Every now and then Sohta will have to play a simplistic game called Monster Cards that is really just a duller version of rock/paper/scissors. Players must collect tiny sparkly objects called “Glims” in order to assemble the cards. And that’s about it for what a person will do while playing Friday Monsters!.
Check your expectations at the door. If you’re a fan of mashing buttons a lot, Friday Monsters! is not the game for you. The straightforward gameplay is in place to serve the narrative. It’s a game crafted with minimalism in mind. As such it’s hard to say who will or will not enjoy it. I did.
Attack of the Friday Mionsters! is aesthetically pleasing. It offers a neat art style. 3D characters models move against pre-rendered backgrounds, giving the visuals a sort of mid-90s point-and-click feel. The in-game music is fully orchestrated and the theme song is catchy. The sound design is overall great.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! is short. It took me less than four hours to complete, which may not seem like a problem, but we’re talking about a downloadable handheld game that costs $8 here. I’ve played better games for iOS that are just as short as Friday Monsters!, but cost under $5 (Year Walk, for example). The post-game content does not make up for the short length, either, because it’s just more Glim collecting, which is an undeniable bore even in the core game. As a matter of fact, my main issue with the game was the distracting and unnecessary collectibles, which are so prevalent that they threaten to drag down the entire experience.
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is quirky and difficult to describe. I haven’t ever played another game quite like it and I’m glad I did play it, but I don’t think I want to experience it again anytime soon. Maybe one of these days, though, when I’m feeling blue and want to get in touch with my inner child again, I can rest easy knowing my 3DS is but an arm’s length away. Friday Monsters! may not be my favorite game or anything, but it is something else. It is…something else.
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