Gaming is evolving before our eyes. From simple shooters to complex RPGs and everything in between, games are starting to transcend archetypes. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is one of the first games I’ve played where I really wasn’t playing at all. Let me clarify. I didn’t play Attack of the Friday Monsters!—I experienced it. It’s not quite like the life simulation of The Sims and it’s not quite like the point-and-click adventure of Myst—it’s awkwardly in between.
The story revolves around Sohta, the young son of a family who just moved to the town of Fuji no Hana. Presumably this town is like any other small town in Japan. The community is welcoming, there are nice parks to play in, lots of small businesses run by families, and a core group of kids to hang out with. Oh, did I mention that every Friday an enormous monster goes on a rampage? You mean to tell me Sohta’s family just moved here knowing full well every Friday was a near apocalyptic event? Yes.
Because the story is told through the eyes of Sohta, it really shines. Not only are we experiencing life like a 1970’s Japanese hero/monster movie or TV show (picture Ultraman or Godzilla), we are seeing this unfold through the mindset of a boy in the 4th grade. As an adult, while playing, I found myself constantly questioning the storyline. Are these monsters real? Are the adults in this town just indulging these kids’ young minds as they idolize these heroes and monsters, or are they all really irresponsible? Why don’t the monsters show up on Wednesdays or Mondays?—everyone hates Mondays! The beauty of Attack of the Friday Monsters! is the experience of being an innocent child.
The “gameplay” is really a day in the life of Sohta. Freely walking around and accomplishing a few tasks here and there in a RPG kinda way, as well as experiencing the town and its people in an open-world environment. The groups of kids Sohta gets to know throughout the story play a little game called Monster Cards. Monster Cards is sort of a mini game that you play within Attack of the Friday Monsters! in the vein of Rock-Paper-Scissors. The only real difference here is that these cards each have a monster’s image on them with different strength values and, as you collect cards, you can strengthen them to have a better chance of winning a draw (Monster A is scissors with a strength of 10 and Monster B is scissors with a strength of 13, Monster B wins the Draw). Throughout the game you will challenge the other kids to a game of Monster Cards and the winner becomes that kid’s boss. Being someone’s boss entitles you to cast a spell forcing them to fall down. Why? Because kids are kids and they do weird things. Literally the game tries to make a joke about why they do this and all they offer as an explanation is “because that’s the rules!”. Being someone’s boss is actually really important to uncovering more background information about the town and accomplishing quests because, if you are someone’s boss, they are more likely to give you insights into ongoing events.
Coming in at around 5–7 hours of play time, it hits a nice niche for us gamers that like the idea of an RPG but never have the time to really commit to one too sprawling. Attack of the Friday Monsters! hits me on many nerd levels (in a good way). There are elements of collecting that really eat at my completionist mentality. There is an amazing theme to the game that pulls inspirations from monster movie culture. Finally, the appreciation I have for character development and innovative gameplay makes this game a must-play for any 3DS owner.