Giant Bomb Review


Tokyo Jungle Review

  • PS3N

For a game that sounds like the setup for a bad SyFy film, Tokyo Jungle is a well-designed, supremely funny video game well worth your time.

Animals have challenges in varying spots, ensuring you'll see the whole, surprisingly big map.

Tokyo Jungle is so much more than a “wacky game from Japan.” It would be easy to enjoy Tokyo Jungle ironically, but the reason I’ve sunk more than 15 hours into a dog-on-cat-on-dinosaur-on-hippo world where humanity no longer exists is because Tokyo Jungle also happens to be a good game.

Though traditional roguelike fans may bristle at the comparison, it’s the easiest shorthand to explain the game’s central gameplay loop, the survival mode. Players are dropped in, and do as the mode suggests: stay alive. Besides just living longer, there are various challenges to keep you motivated, from consuming a set amount of calories to taking over a location by marking various spots. These sessions last anywhere from 15-to-30 minutes, since the game will inevitably spawn a supremely powerful beast into the world, who will totally wreck you. Plus, since the challenges aren't that varied, I often found myself playing only as far as unlocking the next animal before purposely dying. You can, however, save instead of mating and come back if you're having a good run.

Unlocking the animals is the real hook here, since so many of ‘em play differently. An enormous list of animals greets you at the start, though most are locked away, requiring completion of animal-specific challenges. The animals are divided into two types--herbivore, carnivore--and require two different playstyles for success. Carnivores are stronger, combat-reliant animals, and you’ll need to become intimately familiar with the elegant counterattack system to survive. Herbivores want to avoid combat all costs, and must use their double jump ability to reach out-of-place environmental structures to slink around. The differing styles helps keep the gameplay fresh, a feeling compounded by random events that trigger each time you play. Sometimes a location will become poisoned, sometimes food will disappear, sometimes rain will obscure your vision, and sometimes all of those will happen at once, and turn a great run into an utter disaster. You’re balancing these random elements against other competing factors, including the 15-year lifespan of your animal, which forces you to mate and produce offspring, and having to constantly eat to avoid starving.

Can't blame these felines for wanting to protect themselves.

One advantage you do have is loot. Yeah, loot. Boxes will randomly appear in the world with items helpful for the moment (flea shampoo to remove fleas, which slow you down, or pet medicine to restore your life), and gear to boost various stats (my favorite is the hip-hop shirt that improves attack) or provide unique benefits (a headlamp to see further in the dark). The name, look, and description of items are hysterical, but the big problem is that loot doesn’t show up nearly enough. I’d sometimes go two or three runs without a new piece of gear, and there’s a ton of gear in this game, according to the in-game store. And since most of my time in Tokyo Jungle was simply spent playing just long enough to unlock the next animal, the gear didn’t really provide much of an advantage. Players looking to survive for 50 or 75 years, a requirement for some of the harder trophies, will probably get much more out of it.

There is also a story mode in Tokyo Jungle, and it’s where the game gets even weirder, if you can believe it. Collecting three story drops in the survival mode will unlock diary entries that help explain what happened to mankind. The story mode begins as a series of short tales about the various animal factions interacting with one another, while eventually coughing up a direct explanation for Tokyo Jungle’s whole premise. By the end of the story, you will have a pretty cool, totally insane narrative justification for why there are dinosaurs running around Shinjuku. That Tokyo Jungle even has an explanation for itself is impressive enough, and for it to make enough sense to go “oh, yeah, sure” is even better. It’s too bad the rad creatures that unlock as a consequence of finishing the story are so damn expensive, and there’s no way to earn enough points to unlock them without seriously grinding.

I also take issue with the game locking some of its animals, like the sabertooth and alligator, as downloadable content on PlayStation Network. It’s one thing if Sony wants players to purchase crazy, one-off creatures as additional purchases, but part of the Tokyo Jungle addiction is coming across something crazy on a run, and knowing you’ll eventually be able to patrol the streets as that bad ass. Granted, Tokyo Jungle was a retail product in Japan and it’s just $15 over here as a download, but it’s still poor form, and there are better ways of teasing the player to pay a little more. That said, there are plenty of animals for you to unlock, and 15 hours later, I still don't have access to the dinosaurs.

A touching moment in the story mode, a bond across clans.

There are so many other little details that make Tokyo Jungle such a humorous, surprising delight, too. When a set of animals are about to mate, the game fades to black...and the controller rumbles. When you play as a baby chick, there’s no way to mate, because you need to fall asleep...and wake up as a chicken. When the Tosa clan has been battered, beaten, and removed from their home, only to be saved by a compassionate bear who...talks to you. Talks! When you’re presented with a stark morality choice at the end that, no matter what you choose, ends the game on a supremely dark note, you can't help but applaud the game's sheer audacity.

Tokyo Jungle is bold, well-designed, and very funny. One can’t imagine Tokyo Jungle coming from anywhere but Japan, and it’s a case where such a statement is an enormous compliment.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by daehyun

Just bought the game today, can't wait to play! :]

Posted by MiniPato


Posted by RE_Player1

I bought this and am enjoying it. It's going to be on my top 10 2012 list for sure. I hope more of these games are brought outside of Japan because I need more Japanese weirdness and less brown first/third person shooters.

Edited by rmanthorp

Played this quite a lot at Eurogamer Expo this weekend. Is it bad how much I am considering getting a PS3 for this. Thanks for the review Tricky.

Posted by AuthenticM

Damn, I'm going to have to buy this.

Posted by Jimi

I've really been enjoying this game because, despite how goofy and out there the setup is they commit to it with full sincerity. Makes for one of the weirdest games I have ever played but it is easily one of my favourites this year.

Posted by FCDRandy

I'm all over this shit if it makes it to PC. What a strange and beautiful thing.

Posted by Phatmac


Posted by Dogma

Patrick needs his cartoon avatar beside his score! it feel so emty without it.

Posted by Castiel

P L A Y S T A T I O N 3 bitches!

Posted by DragonBomb

@FCDRandy said:

I'm all over this shit if it makes it to PC. What a strange and beautiful thing.

It's a Sony first party game isn't it? Not sure why you'd see that on the PC.

Posted by Giantstalker

The live stream stuff was funny but there's no way I could ever play this game.

I guess its good they found a market for this thing, apparently.

Posted by sixpin

@DragonBomb said:

@FCDRandy said:

I'm all over this shit if it makes it to PC. What a strange and beautiful thing.

It's a Sony first party game isn't it? Not sure why you'd see that on the PC.

Yeah, not likely to happen. Been looking forward to playing this though. Should be a good and goofy time.

Posted by Winsord

I'd like to get a chance to play this at some point. Don't really have the money right now, but even if I did Sony seems to hate any credit card info I put in regardless. Just seems like a fun game that kind of came out of nowhere (though it's original US trailer was pretty great).

Posted by Draxyle

I can definitely agree with this one. The game has a few faults and annoyances here and there (a little too much grinding, some annoying invisible walls, odd ways to unlock story), but I am legitimately enjoying it and always going back for more. It gets a fairly strong recommendation from me.

I was annoyed at the DLC animals myself at first, but after playing it, I don't feel like I even want them. There are so many animals already that I'd probably get burned out long before I want even more. 15 dollars is a spot on price for what you get at base.

That said, this is one game where I really want to see what a sequel would do for it. Making the world a little less side-scrolling and more open safari-like might do great things for the potential franchise.

Glad to see you finally getting into reviews, Patrick!

Posted by Baal_Sagoth

I'm glad to hear this game seems to be as enjoyable as it first appeared. I wish crazy game designers like the ones that almost had to be involved in this nothing but success and love that they were able to put out a perfectly sound game. Now, if there'll ever be some sort of PC version I will not be capable of saying 'No' to this.

Posted by cannonballBAM

Why doesn't Patrick have a review image yet like Alex, Jeff or Brad?

Posted by K9

@Dogma said:

Patrick needs his cartoon avatar beside his score! it feel so emty without it.

Just stick any one of the images from SNS's gallery:

Posted by Rabid619

This game is such a surprising experience to me. After seeing the quick look I told myself I needed to buy it because of how damn weird it was, but after playing it I realized that I was sticking around because of how fun it is.

It may not look great, but it has an undeniable charm in every area. The unlocking of bigger, better, badder enemies that Patrick mentioned is also incredibly addicting, giving you a reason to want to go back again and again. I personally just unlocked my first Horse, and running around at the speed that he is capable of is exhilarating and incredibly rewarding because of the fact that I have been playing as such slow, weak animals up to this point. Now the animals that I feared I can just outrun... until I unlock the next animal, and then I will start the cycle all over again.

One of the most surprising things about Tokyo Jungle has to be the story, though. The last thing I expected was something so engaging, and it is more bizarre than you could ever imagine. At this point in the story, things are unfolding in very much the same way they would in an old school mob movie. Except instead of brooding, emotive men, you have silent, yet still incredibly emotive animals. All who don't speak a word... yet.

Tokyo Jungle is a game that I wouldn't have played without first seeing it on Giant Bomb, so I've gotta thank you guys and especially for that. Tokyo Jungle is a hell of a game, and one of those games that I think I will remember long after I'm done with it. Anyone who is on the fence about it, hop off and buy it, I highly doubt that you will regret it.

Plus if you keep sitting there someone might just push you off.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

Kinda bizarre that there isn't a demo for this on PSN. This kind of game deserves one--most people (non-duders) are going to look at this, see that there isn't a demo, and move along. That's too bad.

Posted by ashton

ahhh no cartoon for Kleptoc? Great review regardless!

Posted by mrsmiley

I'll definitely check out this game if it comes to PC or Xbox. :)

Posted by RustySpoon

It's a real shame this isn't coming out for the Vita (remote play doesn't count). Seems like a great handheld game.

Posted by aquacadet

Thanks for the coverage of this game it was totally under my radar before the quick look. I want to play it but like others I want to see it on PC or Xbox since my ps3 isn't hooked up at the moment. Do you have any idea if it's coming out on other platforms? I'm not holding my breath.

@cannonballBAM said:

Why doesn't Patrick have a review image yet like Alex, Jeff or Brad?

Because he hasn't really done many reviews in the past.

Posted by MusiM

I can't read this review. Patrick has no picture to indicate to me how happy he is. Get the Persona Giantbomb guy to make him a bunch!

Posted by cthomer5000
Posted by Nightfang

It looked boring from what on Spill.

Posted by fusrodah

This is the first game in a very long time that's made me wish I had access to a PS3

Posted by afrokola

The fact that you can play as a beagle is god damn enticing enough! Glad to hear the game is more than just a quick write off.

Posted by Pepsiman

: Very slight correction, but Tokyo Jungle largely takes place in and around Shibuya and not Shinjuku, as you wrote in the review. Not a big issue either way and the game doesn't make that super explicit in the scenery if you aren't a resident, but the closest that the game geographically gets to Shinjuku is Harajuku and Yoyogi Park, which are both just south of where Shinjuku proper would begin. As a former resident of Japan who'll be going back soon enough and lived in Tokyo for a while, I just wanted to mention it.

Posted by RedFive

Nice to have two rad PLAYSTATION®3 games this year between Sound Shapes and Tokyo Jungle. Any game where I can play as a Pomeranian with a hip-hop bandana is a-ok by me!

Posted by vikingdeath1

I killed a panther with a Pomeranian the other day, only after eating some beef Jerky and using a nail file while I was wearing the Lion's Mane that I found in the sewers after running away from the crocodile which I encountered because I had to escape to the sewers to avoid the poison in the air so my newly born children could live a couple years.

Only to then be killed by a pack of Lions.

This game is pretty cool.

Posted by BLipp18

@mrsmiley: its made AND published by Sony, so......yeah, not gonna happen :)

Posted by budsaq

Patrick's a good writer - I wanna read more reviews from him.

Posted by Brad3000

If you are purposely dying as soon as you unlock the next animal you are missing some of the best parts of the game. Better loot drops the longer you go and some loot is tied to the challenges you complete - some of which are at 45 years or more - and there are random events and bosses like robot dogs that you will only see if you live for a long time.

Posted by bybeach

Okay, I feel Patrick is honest.

So I really do not know about the game play experience..not that it is good or bad, I'm not saying that. I do not know if it interests me to spend hours at it, even as a big cat. But it is only 15 dollars...

What I am interested in...THE STORY! What happened? And perhaps what is continuing to happen. Extremely curious......

Posted by iAmJohn

Come on guys, you got those fucking awesome user-made Patrick and Alex caricatures you could take five minutes to throw into the old code. There is no reason not to do it, let alone abandoning the caricatures for the redesign.

This has nothing to do with the review; I just felt like making this point.

Posted by thatdutchguy

Still need to buy this gem, seems like it's worth the 13 euro.

Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish

tokyo jungurrr <3

Posted by Brandino

Absolutely love the game. I really wish NA got a disc version because i hate digital only content, i am more of a physical content guy.

Longest i have gotten was a little over 50 years though :-/

Posted by patrickklepek

@Pepsiman said:

: Very slight correction, but Tokyo Jungle largely takes place in and around Shibuya and not Shinjuku, as you wrote in the review. Not a big issue either way and the game doesn't make that super explicit in the scenery if you aren't a resident, but the closest that the game geographically gets to Shinjuku is Harajuku and Yoyogi Park, which are both just south of where Shinjuku proper would begin. As a former resident of Japan who'll be going back soon enough and lived in Tokyo for a while, I just wanted to mention it.

Thanks, duder!

Edited by JackSukeru

Yeah this game is pretty cool, I'm looking forward to playing more of it when I have time.

Much as I love digital distribution and can't complain about the price this still feels like a game I'd want a boxed copy of, maybe I'll get a Japanese copy one day.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Based on my time with the game, I think 4 stars sounds about right.

Edited by SomeJerk

There are fundamentally "this is actually broken and not supposed to be this way, this needs a patch of polish" unfair moments of bounding boxes and scripting getting busted screwing you over in Story and Survival, and that took it to 4/5 for me because it led to the rumble function no longer working in my DualShock..

..keep a spare pad around if you're the kind of gamer who at a rare frustrating moment maybe once every five years will drop your joypad in anger.

The raw rogue-like ruthlessness of it all is perfect though, even when it's bad-spawn-orama!

Posted by Stubee

How am I supposed to take this review seriously. It doesn't have a little cartoon Patrick next to the stars!!!!

Posted by blacklab

That seems like a 5 star review...but only 4 stars given?

Posted by rand0mZer00

Great review Patrick. I first noticed the game when Jew Wario showed it off on his You Can Play This video, and thought it was a pretty cool idea for a game.

Posted by Neurotic

Patrick really needs one of those cartoon things next to the summary statement, even if he does only review something every now and again. The blank space is making me sad.

Nice review. I've only jumped in a couple of times but I definitely want to try the story at some point. Especially now I've seen that bear crossing his arms.

Posted by super2j

i know that one day i will own this. I dont know when or why. but i will. I feel like a sort of magnetism will pull me

Posted by Fredchuckdave

Everything is an RPG, everything is a roguelike.

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