Tokyo Jungle Mobile Review: Sony's quirky animal-'em-up makes the jump to portable gaming in fine form
- Posted July 17th, 2013 at 11:51 EDT by Paul Kelly
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Tokyo Jungle Mobile is an excellent attempt to capture the essence of what made the PS3 game different from everything else out there.
- The streamlined unlock system
- The unique gameplay, which adapts perfectly to mobile
- The game-breaking bug
- Having to press X to do everything
- The lack of online features
Last year, Sony unleashed a rather unique and novel game on the PlayStation 3 by the name of Tokyo Jungle. While flawed, the game proved to be rather enjoyable overall, and now the experience has come to PS Mobile in the form of Tokyo Jungle Mobile. The fact it says 'Mobile' in the title should tell you that it isn't the exact same game.
Tokyo Jungle Mobile is a different take on the original PS3 game, adapted to survive the hostile habitat that is the mobile gaming space. Instead of the side-on view and free movement style of the original, Tokyo Jungle Mobile instead has evolved to an isometric camera view with a grid-based movement system. There are no movement animations here, as a result movement looks like you're playing a board game. What this does is speeds up the gameplay, as the size of the Tokyo map has been greatly reduced while making movement faster. The grid also means that the Stamina bar is no longer needed, leaving only Health and Hunger to worry about.
Moving about the Tokyo Jungle in the PS Mobile game is simple. On the PS Vita, you can use the D-pad or analogue stick to get your animal from one place to another. The isometric grid may be confusing at first but it doesn't take long to get used to it. Also simplified is the combat system, which uses only one button, namely X. Tapping this button will strike a foe, holding it down will do a charge attack, which is highlighted by squares on the grid lighting up, to signal where your animal will attack. The hunting from the PS3 game comes over pretty much unchanged. Sneaking behind or at the side of another animal will bring up the teeth icon and when it turns red, hit X and you will take out the unsuspecting creature and, unlike the PS3 game, automatically consumes the remains. Again, this speeds up the gameplay. X is also used to dodge enemy attacks. However, this is tricky to pull off as the purple teeth icon to show that you can dodge only appears for a short time, and you are already pressing X to attack. It would have been far more convenient for the dodge function to be assigned to a different button.
Aside from combat, there's also the territory marking and reproducing aspects from the PS3 game carried over. It works in pretty much the same way; mark three territories and you can use the nest to reproduce when you find a partner. The females are tied to the same ranking system; Desperate, Average and Prime, which go on your rank of Rookie, Veteran or Boss. You can also sleep at a nest, which changes the time of day, the amount of animals at any given location and also grows your animal. For example, if you play as a lion cub, sleeping turns your cub into a fully-grown lion. Strangely, that is the only way to grow, as time doesn't affect the size, only stats if the animal gets older.
Completing objectives is the way to make your animal more capable of not being eaten by bigger and stronger animals in Tokyo Jungle Mobile. To do this, you simply complete the objectives the game gives to you. Unlike the PS3 game, only one objective is active at a time. These objectives range from killing a certain number of animals, going to a particular place or getting 'fine hunts' which are stealth kills. The objectives are pretty repetitive but because they come at you faster than in the original, they don't feel as tedious because of the faster gameplay. Also now less tedious is the unlocking of other animals to play as. You start with the Pomeranian dog and unlock other animals by simply seeing them and then having the required number of points to play as them. You earn points by completing objectives, surviving, reproducing and killing animals.
The general feel of Tokyo Jungle has been transferred to the mobile space very well, though not everything has come over. The story mode is gone, leaving only Survival mode. All animal customisation has been dropped and the leaderboards are local only, presumably because PS Mobile doesn't support PSN features yet. Weather effects have been removed too, only day/night cycles remain. Also gone are the PSN Trophies, which have been replaced by in-game awards. These are essentially Trophies though as they have similar requirements. However, these don't really make the game feel like a neutered experience as you don't feel like they are necessary to make the game better.
The UI is instantly recognisable to anyone who has played the PS3 game, as will the map, which is accessible by pressing Start on the PS Vita. The map shows you where you are and the population of every area. The music is identical to the soundtrack in the PS3 game, which is fine except it does get a bit boring. One good thing is that every animal from the PS3 game is here, including ones which were originally DLC, such as the alligator or 'Salaryman', which is a Japanese businessman.
Speaking of Japanese, this game is made in Japan and from the looks of it, was translated using Google Translate. There's nothing that isn't understandable but it's funny seeing suburbs defined as 'suburds.' In truth, the dodgy translation captures the spirit of Japanese games of a bygone era, where 'all your base are belong to us' was a phrase that made it into a finished product. Yeah, it may to look like a bad effort to some and it probably was rushed but it is kind of endearing. Something that definitely isn't though is the game's major bug, which randomly sees your game crash and send you back to the Livearea on the PS Vita. This is extremely annoying because the game doesn't save your progress during play but only after you die in a game. Losing all of your progress when doing well is so frustrating and does put the dampeners on to what is otherwise an extremely addictive game.
Tokyo Jungle Mobile is an excellent attempt to capture the essence of what made the PS3 game different from everything else out there. The changes to the gameplay haven't diluted the style in any way and in some respects, the streamlined mechanics make for a more fun experience, which has less tedium. For the price, the game is definitely worth the price but be careful because it's soon to increase in price. At the time of writing, the game is £2.39 on the U.K. PS Mobile store. Tokyo Jungle Mobile isn't perfect, particularly with 'Press X to everything' and a frustration-inducing game-ending bug, but overall the title is a fine addition to the PS Mobile catalogue, which is seemingly on the rise.