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Posted on Jul 19th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Kaiju, monsters, Godzilla, Japanese adventure

Oh Summer, you fickle maiden, how our relationship has changed.  Once upon a time, we cavorted through the woods and meadows, looking for empty cans and bottles so we could thumb a few extra quarters into the Contra machine, or maybe rent an NES game again (for $3 a day).  Now, I either pray for rain (figuratively speaking) so I can do work inside the house, or fix/trim/dig/clean things outside my house, while trying to keep one eye on my kids.  Still, this is a big time of year for nostalgia, so I might as well pick up a summer-themed game.  What do you all think?  No?  Really?  Uh, okay.  How about we meet halfway in between, then?

I've mentioned it a few times in the past, but I am a huge fan of the Boku no Natsuyasumi games by Millennium Kitchen.  There is just something about tearing around those environments, listening to the often deafening drone of insects that draws me back to my own summers spent as a youth (cultural differences aside).  Back when I could spend time gazing up at the sky without thinking about cutting the tree back or the last time I used lawn fertilizer.  When summer was about more about the doing, and less about nostalgia and honey-do lists and more about making sure my head was nice and empty when school came back around in Autumn.


Well, the bad news (at least for me) is the Bluray on my PS3 finally died, after only six months of holding it up at various angles to get it to load, so no Boku No Natsuyasumi 3 for PS3 in time for this article.  Turns out putting people through graduate school is expensive.  Who knew, right?  But, all is not lost, as another Millennium Kitchen game comes to mind, one with the same basic feel as my favorite Japanese boy summer simulator, but with a great deal more absurdity.  That game is Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale for 3DS.

When first starting out I was ready to call Attack of the Friday Monsters (Attack) a slightly different Boku game, and in some ways it does feel that way, from the cartoony but proportionate look of the characters, to the fixed-perspective camera that each screen has (similar to the older Resident Evil games) all the way down to you controlling a Japanese boy in a new town, set in a nostalgic past (1971 in this case, and not a video game in sight).  But, that is where the comparisons end, and mainly due to one specific reason: It has a strong narrative structure. 

From the onset of this game, you are in a narrative.  In fact, it is the primary feature of Attack, where in most Millennium Kitchen games it is narrative.  The game has a total of twenty-six episodes (counting the bonus one), but they aren't always presented or completed in order.  I found this a bit jarring at first, but quickly acclimated myself to it, which is good because the game's narrative moves at lightning speed with very little exposition.  Talking to anyone or walking into an area could either trigger a new episode or finish another one.  My own instinct is these types of games is to hit a plot-point, explore a bit, then pick up the plot where I left off.  Attack resists this, opening up more of the story as you explore, until you get sucked into the game and it's mystery.  Why are there giant monsters fighting each other?  Why only on Friday, and does it have something to do with the local TV station and its hit show, Guardians! Blue Planet Space Defenders?  Who is that weirdo Frank, and why is he always asking questions about the most obvious things?

While the game is very narrative focused, there is a little mini-game to enjoy, a card game called Monster Cards.  It is basically Rock, Paper, Scissors, so there is a great deal of chance to whether or not you win against your opponent, with power levels added to each card to spice things up.  You can get the cards by picking up Monster Glims (small shiny balls scattered throughout the game).  There are fifteen total cards (each card requiring six Glims).  The Glims are mostly visible, some not so much, and many are hidden behind scenery.  To keep things spicy, Glims will reappear in different spots (mostly) as you progress through the story, encouraging exploration to look for more Glims (which in turn opens up more of the story).  What could make Monster Cards more of a mini-game is the boss/servant mechanic, where winning a game against a friend in the game will cause them to give more information to you when talking to them (and you can "cast a spell" on them to make them fall down at will).  This also works in reverse, and those that are bosses to you will withhold information from you in certain cases (and let you know they are doing it).  They will also "cast a spell" on you as well to make you fall down, which Sohta remarks isn't all that great.  From what I've observed this may not be required, as Sohta's friends seem to only give hints when they are your servants, and don't always want to play the card game, so for now it is merely a diversion.

To those that are willing to give Attack of the Friday Monsters a chance, I believe it does have a lot to offer.  It is a very lighthearted and cut down Japanese-style adventure game with a child-centric view of a wide and strange world, resplendent with the sounds and sights of summer in a small town.  It is also very short, clocking in between three to five hours.  Basically, you can spend a lot of time tooling around, soaking in the sights, battling your friends with Monster Cards, and still finish the game in a single long gaming session.

I'm hoping this is coming through, but just in case I would like to say that I really like this game.  In fact, if the year would end now and I would be responsible for putting together a "favorites of 2017" list, I would easily put Attack near the top, if not at the top (regardless of what I've already played).  It was exactly what I needed when I needed it, and while it didn't exactly wash me in nostalgia as I was hoping, it certainly made me sad when it was finally done.

Attack of the Friday Monsters is developed by Millennium Kitchen and published by Level 5, and is available exclusively in the Nintendo 3DS eShop for $7.99 USD. 

Thanks for reading!

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I tried this game last year. I thought it was charming for sure. For some reason, though, I had trouble getting into it. There didn't seem to be a lot to it at the time, but it's possible I just didn't play long enough into it to get to the good stuff. I should give it another try. Thanks for reminding me about this one!
I liked the game very much. Espacially the setting, the little city, the time that it plays. Spent some good hours of 2 long -flights with it. The card game didn#t have to be, but it was alright. Wandering around and listening to the crickets and noises of the streets was the best part. Glad that you brought up this wonderful nice game. Thanks!

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