Attack of the Friday Monsters is incredibly boring… so why do I love it so much?
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale
Attack of the Friday Monsters ranks as one of the more boring games I've ever played, but in spite of that I somehow managed to enjoy every minute of it. Attack of the Friday Monsters is a better game specifically because it IS so boring.
The plot set up is bizarre: every Friday evening in a small 1970s Japanese town enormous monsters emerge to do battle on the fields nearby. It's attention-grabbing, for sure.
The giant monsters exist only in the background of the plot for most of the game, and they're borderline mythological. The monsters only make an appearance very late in the game, as the truth about their nature is revealed.
The bulk of the game is about nothing more than a sleepy Japanese hamlet full of unique personalities, and a gaggle of kids who meet to play cards. The majority of the game is spent strolling around the town, which is presented from isometric camera angles. You'll get a quest from one character, then proceed to the designated area or talk to the designated person, and you'll advance the story. It's a very simple little game.
You'll be tasked with doing small favors for people, investigating mysteries, and collecting monster cards for the card battle minigame. None of it is particularly interesting on its own. The game's activities can be dull, there's literally a quest where you take someone their laundry, but the village of Fuji no Hana is so peaceful and simple that I fell in love with it.
Attack of the Friday Monsters puts you in the shoes of the new boy in town, Sohta, as he learns the town's secret alleys, people and shops. The town itself feels full of personality, and yet still feels like any other small town in the world. There's something about cutting through an alley with an old beat up car in it that takes me back to being a kid, and I have a feeling that just about anybody, regardless of where they came up, will find themselves in the grip of a nostalgia trip with this game.
Forget the giant monsters, this is a game about innocence and childhood. That's what makes the boredom so compelling. Because a good childhood should seem boring to an adult. From an adult's perspective, next to nothing actually happens in this game until near the end. And I think you could make a compelling argument that nothing actually happens at all. Most of the drama is manufactured by the imaginations of children and the scuttlebutt of a small town full of folklore as everyone discusses and debates the monsters' existence in the hours leading up to the impending weekly arrival.
Attack of the Friday Monsters lured me in precisely because it's simplicity offers an escape back to the peace of a good childhood. It never feels the need to create drama where there isn't any, and it never pretends to be intense or riveting. The developer seems to have understood that peacefulness is a trait very rarely seen in video gaming, and that's what makes this game special.
That said, just because it's peaceful doesn't mean it's vacant. The game world is beautiful and fun to explore, and the dialog is often funny.
The small card battling mini-game is also a surprising amount of fun. As you move through the game world you'll constantly come across tiny gems on the ground. Collect enough of these gems and you'll get a monster card. These monster cards form your deck that you'll use to duel against Sohta's friends.
Fun though it may be, the card game itself is incredibly low-stakes. The winner of the game becomes the loser's “boss.” Which means precisely nothing, other than that the winner can command the loser to fall down. Seriously, that's the whole purpose of card battling in this game. It doesn't attempt to spruce up the mundanity of everyday childhood hobbies and schoolyard challenges.
Attack of the Friday Monsters is definitely not the type of game that will appeal to everybody. If explosions are what you crave then run far from this game, but if you love the slow, exploratory pace of games like Shenmue or Way of the Samurai then this is a must-play. It's a short game, clocking in at just a few hours, but it's going to stick with me for quite a bit longer.
Attack of the Friday Monsters is available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop store for $7.99.