The PlayStation 3 hasn’t seen the same localization of strange Japanese titles that its predecessors have, but developer Crispy’s has returned a measure of wackiness to Sony’s premier console with the release of “Tokyo Jungle” on the PlayStation Network.
“Tokyo Jungle” is set nearly 10 years in the future after a mysterious cataclysm caused humans to disappear from the face of the earth, leaving animals, both wild and domestic, to fend for themselves in the streets of Tokyo. Players take on the role of more than 50 different species, ranging from rabbits to lions, in side-scrolling arcade action.
The meat of the game is survival mode. Each animal must eat, fight, flee and mate in order to live. The focus on survival keeps the action moving at a frantic pace as multiple timers are running and conditions constantly change.
Surprisingly, the constant threat of death rarely proves frustrating as Crispy’s has fine-tuned the various elements into a challenging and satisfying whole. Players will also find that each play-through is rewarded with increased statistics, new animals and costume items within the story mode to ensure that no trip through the jungle is the same.
Story mode is split into episodes that present a series of obstacles for one specific animal to overcome. For example, a deer must find its mother or a Pomeranian must establish a home and find a mate. Episodes differ in task and species but each feels empty compared to survival mode.
While the survival mode can be fun, it also becomes repetitive. Each animal plays too similarly to others for the game to stay fresh throughout multiple sessions.
Costume unlocks go a long way toward providing impetus to keep playing, but since many costume pieces provide little to make wolves and porcupines look hilarious in silly hats and shoes, there isn’t much reason to pursue it.
These minor kinks can be overlooked, but the ill use of the camera angles marks the game’s major flaw. Animals in this game rely heavily on stealth to hunt prey and avoid predators. The camera is fixed in a side-scrolling view to the player-controlled animal, which makes seeing what direction prey is facing impossible until it comes into view.
Despite the repetitiveness and flawed camera, “Tokyo Jungle” is a fresh and fun title that can be played individually or cooperatively. At $15 it’s a bit high for a simple title, but players will find that even when the novelty wears off, they’ll keep coming back to the jungle.