While Tokyo Jungle may have piqued our interest with its original concept and menagerie of animals to play as, the arcade survival game falls short in several areas. With repetitive gameplay, a lack of variety, and mechanics that often waste your time, we found that only hardcore completionists are going to roam away from this title with their tail wagging.
- Lots of animals to unlock
- Great for completitionists
- An original concept
- Way too repetitive
- Terrible mechanics that constantly waste your time
- Not enough variety between animals
Tokyo Jungle Review:
Tokyo Jungle is definitely one of the weirdest games I've ever played. The main bulk of gameplay lies in Survival Mode where the basic idea is simple: survive as an animal in a deserted Japanese city for as long as possible, mostly by preying on other animals and mating. The longer you survive, the more points you'll rack up in order to unlock new animals. It's kind of like the circle of life, only with terrible mechanics, confusing menus, and way too much repetition.
Welcome To The Jungle
When you begin Survival Mode, which you can play through either by yourself or with a friend, the only animals unlocked are the adorable yet vicious Pomeranian dog and the gentle Sika deer. Animals are broken in to two types in Tokyo Jungle: predators and grazers. Predators, like the dog, are hunters and can feed on other animals after they kill them, while the grazers need to be a little stealthier and can only eat plants found around the map. There are over 45 animals to unlock in Tokyo Jungle of all shapes and sizes, which you'd think would add a lot of variety to the game. Unfortunately, even though there are two categories of animal and each animal does technically have their own unique stats, the gameplay experience for all of them is practically identical which becomes horribly repetitive.
Regardless of the animal you choose, you'll start Survival Mode in the same area of the city every time you begin. The city itself is broken up in to nine parts and each area looks as dreary as the next. As the game starts, a dial indicating how many years you've survived for will appear at the top of the screen and slowly tick along during the entirety of your playthrough. I found that one year in Tokyo Jungle time was about one minute in real time.
Time plays two important roles in Tokyo Jungle. At certain years you'll be assigned challenges and you'll only have a certain number of years to complete them. Additionally, as the years pass and your animal gets older, his maximum health pool will go down. This forces you to either find a mate in order to procreate, which will allow you to play on in the form of your young, or die from old age. Aside from looking out for predators, the time mechanic really did make you feel as though you were fighting against the odds to survive, which added an extra layer of depth to the game.
Once you survive for one year in game you will always get a challenge. Challenges are broken up by letters A-E with E challenges being the easiest and A challenges being the most difficult. Challenges for the most part are all pretty one-note and have you either mating, killing, marking territory, intaking food, or finding random places on the map for no reason.
As you get to higher grade challenges by surviving longer, you'll still be doing the same exact things as you were doing in the earlier challenges, but now you'll have to do them multiple times. Not only was this boring and repetitive, but I found it annoying that you had to survive for a year every time the game started before you even got a challenge to begin with. There was never any way for you to die in that period and it was basically a waste of time every single time you started Survival Mode on a new animal.
There are other similarly frustrating mechanics in Tokyo Jungle as well. The worst being the save game feature. Every time you want to save your game in Tokyo Jungle you have to go to a new part of the city and mark your territory several times in predetermined areas. This in and of itself is annoying, but what further adds to the frustration is that since the game randomly generates enemies for you to kill, sometimes surviving long enough to get to a save can be a trying exercise in patience. One time I was trying to save my game and easily took out a pack of hyena guarding the area, while another time when I wanted to save my game in the same exact area I was assaulted by velociraptors! What the hell were raptors doing there?!
Once you finally mark your territory enough, you will unlock the ability to mate or save your game at a nest. If you want to mate, which will allow you to continue playing through Survival mode as your young, you'll have to find a female willing to do the deed.
If you've eaten enough animals and ranked up enough, any mate will find you acceptable. The better the mate you find, the more offspring you'll have. Offspring not only represent your extra lives in the game but they'll also help you attack other animals, so you generally want to find the best mate possible. Once you do, if you take them to a nest (because all animals use nests) you'll be able to either mate or save your game. If you choose to mate, the save option goes away and you can't save the game until you go through the entire process again at a new nest with a new mate. Yet even if you choose to save the game, it kicks you out to the main screen every time which I found to be a clunky mechanic and unnecessarily time consuming.
What I found to be even more frustrating about the save feature was that if you saved your game on one animal, you couldn't pick up on another one. Every time you start Survival Mode on a new animal, it completely wipes your progress on any other animal. I understand that it's a survival mode and you're trying to last as long as possible, but considering playing as one animal doesn't affect anything while playing on another, it seemed strange that you couldn't have multiple saves at once.
Aside from Survival Mode, Tokyo Jungle also offers a lacking story mode where you play through scenarios as 14 different animals in order to learn about what happened to the human race. You unlock story chapters by collecting random memory sticks spread throughout survival mode, and each story mode act ends with a boss fight. Even though I was curious about what happened to the humans, none of the story mode missions were ever engaging enough for me to desire to keep playing through them.
This Is The Worst Zoo Ever
Despite all of its flaws, I'd still consider Tokyo Jungle a decent arcade title. You definitely have to learn from your experiences while playing, and if you're a completionist, unlocking all the animals and story mode archives can be a challenging yet rewarding enterprise. I wouldn't say that Tokyo Jungle is a must play title by any means, but for just $15 I'd say it's almost worth it just to play one of the strangest games the PSN has to offer.