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Review – Tokyo Jungle

Humanity has disappeared, wild animals have escaped from the zoo, and the streets of Tokyo have become the site of a struggle to survive by every animal from pomeranians to hyenas and everything in between, which apparently includes elephants, raptors and robot dogs. Tokyo Jungle is many things – weird, funny and fresh but, disappointingly, it’s also repetitive, mundane and just not that good.

I’ll be the first to admit that describing Tokyo Jungle as mundane is somewhat of an oxymoron. Developed by Japanese studio Crispy’s, Tokyo Jungle holds back on none of the weirdness the Pacific island is renowned for. The survival-of-the-fittest romp though central Japan has you select an animal to play as, beginning with the humble pomeranian and deer, and eventually working your way up to the ranks of Lions and Hippopotamus.

Depending on whether your animal’s passion lies in being a ‘predator’ or  a ‘grazer’ you’ll either have to hunt prey or search out plants to eat whilst you avoid stronger predators. Once you’ve grown old and tired of the standard 9-5 routine of kill things, eat plants, run from lions; you’ll want to mark some territory, find a mate with similar interests to settle down with and do the dirty to continue your genes. And then you start the whole thing again.

It’s a simple set up well adjusted for the arcade genre, complete with points gained for survival and a high calorie intake, as well as a high score board should you wish to take your post-apocalyptic pet simulation to the an  international level. Challenges, unique tasks such as ‘find the chick boss’ or ‘travel to Shibuya Station’, provide a bit of variety to the insane, undeniably Japanese adventure that is Tokyo Jungle.

There are a few smaller touches that just perfect the feeling of ‘what the hell is going on here?’ when you play Tokyo Jungle. As you explore the streets you can find items such as pet medicine and flea remover to treat your animal with, archives that shed a little more light on how the world got to where it is today and costumes to dress your animals.

Yes… you read that right, you’ll find outfits that, when worn, improve your animals stats, such as defence, or add special abilities; putting a headlight on a pomeranian, for example, will allow you to see further at night. If you didn’t believe me, here is a picture of a chick wearing a cap, backpack and socks.

As amusingly bizarre as this is, no amount of absurd hilarity can mask the truly tedious gameplay that Tokyo Jungle sets as its foundations. Fun at first, the endless repetition set in small, uninteresting environments quickly becomes too much to bear. There’s little motivation to unlock new animals because, other than a statistical bonus, they all play exactly the same. Similarly, story levels (short scenarios that vary little from the main arcade mode) and archive files are too uninteresting to be considered ‘rewards’. The time it takes to unlock these bonuses as well is far too long; the sad truth may be that Crispy’s have developed a game who’s arcade mode is far less interesting than they thought it was.

Whilst it was sold as a full price game in Japan, Tokyo Jungle retails for a humble £10 on the UK PSN store. In that sense it could be considered a bargain,  but unless your a lover of all things Japan or just in the mood for one of the most bizarre games you’ve seen in a while, Tokyo Jungle isn’t worth your time.

Tom Mackay

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