Level 5 has been on a roll on the 3DS. It has consistently upped the ante, at least as far as the standard of games we can expect on the eShop goes, with games like Crimson Shroud and Liberation Maiden.
Their most recent batch of efforts comes with a series of made for eShop games, the sequel to the hit Guild01 collection, Guild02. The new series of games got off to a somewhat inauspicious start with The Starship Damrey, a game with some great atmosphere and some good ideas that lacked in execution and the value proposition, but they seem to be back on track somewhat with this newest game.
Notice I say somewhat. Like its immediate predecessor, Attack of the Friday Monsters is a game with an incredible atmosphere, and a nice story to tell. Also like its immediate predecessor, however, it is a $7 game that would barely last you a full three hours. That, when all is said and done, is its biggest failing, because everything else, the game does exceptionally well.
It’s a charming game, that recreates the atmosphere of 1970s Tokyo almost disarmingly well, and lulls you in with its lovely graphics, its great soundtrack, and its wonderful characters, as you try and figure out the central mystery of the eponymous Friday Monsters. The game has all the wonderment and the sense of discovery that everyone probably remembers from childhood, as you begin to wander around rural Tokyo one summer afternoon, discovering the full city as your playground, making new friends, and trying to cope with the simple task that every child must eventually tackle- drawing the line between one’s imagination and one’s reality.
" The feeling of discovery, of amazement, of wonderment, of there being something more, possibly sinister, just beyond the surface, are all recreated wonderfully well in this game."
The game’s plot is replete with pop cultural references that you probably wouldn’t understand unless you lived in Japan in or around this specific time period, and the story might often be slowed down or get confusing as a result, but the core themes, the underlying themes are themes that all of us should identify with strongly, as they speak to our childhood. The feeling of discovery, of amazement, of wonderment, of there being something more, possibly sinister, just beyond the surface, are all recreated wonderfully well in this game.
The actual gameplay part of the game is sparse, like The Starship Damrey. Most of the game consists of conversations, that enhance the game’s excellent characterization so much, and there is also a nice card based battle system to engage your attention, even though the actual battle system is a pretty simple rock-paper-scissors system that relies on pure guesswork more than anything else. Like the actual rock-paper-scissors game, you have to make your own selection, and guess what your opponent will select. There’s not a whole lot of skill, then, like I said, but it does make for a nice change from all the walking around and talking to people that the game otherwise entails.
It’s probably just as well, then, with a gameplay foundation so thin, that Attack of the Friday Monsters doesn’t last more than two to three hours- how would the game’s gameplay mechanics possibly be able to support a full length game? The game would become unbearably shallow and repetitive, in spite of its oodles of charm.
"As it stands now, it is still a great game, but it is, after all, up to you to decide whether you want to spend $7 on a game that is barely longer than the average Nolan blockbuster."
And on the whole, I agree with that premise; I just wish that the game had actually been priced accordingly as well, because $7 is too steep a price considering how little is on offer, even if that little is incredibly well don. It’s disappointing, especially considering the value proposition of other eShop games, such as Crashmo and Level 5’s own Crimson Shroud. It’s disappointing that they have then, slipped up twice since then, first with The Starship Damrey, and now with Attack of the Friday Monsters.
The difference between that game and this, however, is that while The Starship Damrey was a fundamentally flawed game, Attack of the Friday Monsters is not. It is a sweet, charming game that is a great experience, and at a lower price would be recommended to all 3DS owners without hesitation. As it stands now, it is still a great game, but it is, after all, up to you to decide whether you want to spend $7 on a game that is barely longer than the average Nolan blockbuster.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
Incredible charm, great atmosphere and storytelling, great characterization, recreates the sense of childish wonder and whimsy extraordinarily well, idyllic and relaxing experience
The actual gameplay is fairly limited, the game is extremely short, and it is extremely expensive
Level 5's latest is a charming, idyllic adventure let down by the asking price.
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