Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is not really a game. It has a couple game-like elements to it, such as collecting glims to craft monster trading cards and battling with friends to gain power and superiority over them, but it’s more or less a short story about being a kid in a Tokyo suburb in the 1970s when tokusatsu shows were wildly popular. These are the type of television programming where giant monsters battle against larger-than-life heroes against a bustling city skyline. Think Kamen Rider and Power Rangers mixed with kaiju monster flicks like Gamera. I’m aware of them, but they’re not my kind of go-to entertainment choice…unless they are being poked and prodded by Joel and Crow via Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Anyways, after a total of three hours, I’m happy to have played Attack of the Friday Monsters!, but I wish it had been more. You control a young boy named Sohta living in a small town in the Tokyo suburbs. Your parents send you out on a simple delivery errand, with your Mom reminding you as you go that today is Friday, which means the monsters come out. She says it quite casually, and everyone in town is fine with the fact that this happens. As you explore the town, you meet some other kids and become friends with them. They teach Sohta how to play Monster Cards, which is based around Rock, Paper, Scissors, with some additional elements to it to determine ties. When you beat someone at Monster Cards, you become their master, now able to cast a silly spell on them to cause them to fall down dramatically. It’s pretty whimsical and innocent, reminding me a bit of my one time playing…you know, I no longer remember the name of the card game. Had something to do with spells and potions.
I played through Attack of the Friday Monsters! over two nights, but one could bang it out in a single setting. However, there is no reason to rush. Take your time and bask in the sereneness of the town, listen to the cicadas, watch the train chug on by. Setting is the star here. I found the story to be pretty light-hearted and teetering on nonsensical, but never offensive. There’s a couple of real cute moments, and keeping the Japanese voiceover work is always good. Also, that opening theme song is stellar. Quests overlap in the same style that mysteries opened and resolved in the Professor Layton series, and your reward for finishing up a task is always more glims. The monster cards are pretty cool looking in terms of art design, and you can combine multiple copies to increase the strength of one card, but other than that…the minigame is probably about 60% luck and 40% skill and never stressful or demanding that you grind for stronger cards. Just give it a go, and good luck.
The game’s titular attack was also a bit of a letdown, in how it ultimately played out. Visually, it’s a lot of fun. But honestly, I was expecting more giant monster stuff throughout, and there’s really only one instance of it, and you are basically a tiny part of the play. After the credits roll, you are placed back in town, free to run around and collect more glims, as well as battle your friends with Monster Cards. I did a quick tour of every place open once more to get what I could, but did not pick up any new quests to do, and so it seems like the only way now to get more glims is to win the card minigame over and over, which, if it was more like Tetra Master, I’d be into. Oh snap. But alas, it’s nothing to write home about.
So yeah, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, a really charming and peaceful tale about being a kid and creating your own world of fun–but just that. A tale.