When the original Tokyo Jungle came out for the PS3 about a year ago, the game was met with WTFs all around. Turns out the game wasn’t some joke, and it was actually based on some fairly solid mechanics. Now, Sony is bringing the arcade-like, dog-eat-dog game to the small screen by replacing the open world action of the original game with a grid-based one where you use the control stick to maneuver the ruins of Tokyo.
The game may be more small scale, but there’s still a great variety of animals to choose from. While most animals only have a subtle impact on the actual gameplay, it’s still very amusing to play as a horse rampaging through Tokyo and killing rabbits and hyenas. The different animals also serve as the best tool for replayability. After all, the life of a rabbit is fairly different from an alligator. The fact that I could write that previous sentence is another plus for the game.
One of the key components that make these quirky Japanese games work is its self-awareness. Tokyo Jungle Mobile makes no effort to try to be factually correct or gritty; it indulges itself on its zaniness and takes the player along for the ride. The simple and easy to play style, combined with the drive to get a high score, creates an arcade-like atmosphere that’s fun in short bursts.
Even as a PlayStation Mobile game, Tokyo Jungle still feels lacking in sustenance. There’s not much depth to the game, as the bulk of the gameplay comes down to running around eating animals that are smaller than you. It quickly becomes repetitive and there’s little change to spice things up as you progress.
The tone may be light-hearted, but the visuals are decidedly more realistic. This contrast worked well on a powerful console, but it struggles to be as charming as a mobile game. Relegated to grids and sprites, the animals and background look generic and plain. Some unique style would have greatly benefited the game.
It may be a watered-down version of the PS3 game, but at $3, it’s also significantly cheaper. Some of the charm and fun was lost in translation, but the core mechanics are still intact. If you are interested in playing as an animal running around eating other animals, then this isn’t a bad deal. There are really not many other options, anyways.