Best in show: revisiting the cataclysmic strangeness of Tokyo Jungle -

Best in show: revisiting the cataclysmic strangeness of Tokyo Jungle

Credit: eurogamer.net

  • About: 2 months ago
  • 10 views

Does the world seem just a little bit closer to apocalypse now than it did five years ago? Perhaps that's why I recently became so obsessed with Tokyo Jungle, the beastly post-cataclysm survival sim that on its initial release in 2012 was generally viewed as an idiosyncratic throwback rather than a giant evolutionary leap forward. Developed by Japanese studio Crispy's, it was a PlayStation 3 exclusive that ruffled a few feathers but did not seem to leave much of a cultural paw-print. Depending on who you talked to, it was either too weird, or too basic, or somehow both of those things simultaneously.

Rather unexpectedly, it carved a groove in my memory due to its distinctive game icon - a proud little Pomeranian lap dog - an image that would cheerily recur on my friend's PS3 XMB while he was spooling through his haul of downloaded games. Every now and then that cute pup would remind me of the existence of Tokyo Jungle, and make me idly wonder: how much is that doggo in the window? A few weeks ago, when the game was bundled in with July's PlayStation Plus offerings, the answer was: free, to a good home. Just don't expect to win a lot.

1

Get the hang of Tokyo Jungle's stealthy sneak attack and even a tiny lap dog can take down a zebra. One wolf against three tigers, on the other hand…

Tokyo Jungle simply isn't one of those games prepared to meet you halfway. It stubbornly sticks to its own bizarre and rather obstructionist logic and demands the player essentially fit in around it, a sensation presumably familiar to cat owners. But five years on and its inherent strangeness has ripened into something rather sweet. It's set in an eerily abandoned Tokyo a decade after humankind has mysteriously vanished. Over time, some insistent flora has crept back in, and so, in turn, has the fauna. From household pets to common livestock, zoo exotics to unexpected Jurassic comebacks, Tokyo is now emphatically an animal kingdom where only the strongest survive. With its emphasis on Pomeranians, Beagles, Golden Retrievers and stately Tosas, it initially feels rather like Crufts meets I Am Legend.

Geographically, this isn't an obsessively detailed recreation like Yakuza's peerless, crammed Kamurocho district. This newly fecund Tokyo is more a linearly linked series of overgrown city blocks that, when you toggle to the map screen, resemble a loosely-grouped assemblage of levels from a Double Dragon-style side-scrolling beat-em-up. You always start bang in the middle, in the relatively placid environs of Shibuya Station beneath a building whose upper facade appropriately resembles a cage mangled by an escaping animal. Under this omen, you essentially warg, Game of Thrones-style, into your chosen creature and attempt to survive and thrive in a flurry of feeding, mating and fleeing.

In survival mode, the idea is to live long and prosper, which involves understanding and accepting your position in the food pyramid. Play as a grazing rabbit, deer or (eventually) elephant and you need to sniff out veggie food sources and avoid hungry carnivores. Try your luck as a predator and you'll need to sharpen those stalking and hunting skills while weighing up your chances against the more powerful red-in-tooth-and-claw types. Whether veggie or meat-eater, you are required to manage constantly depleting hunger levels while staking a claim to various streets through the time-honoured method of peeing all over the place. Once you've secured a safe territory, the idea is to pass on your knowledge and experience to the next generation by finding a willing mate and starting all over again as a young pup/kitten/bear cub/whatever.

2

In the base game, there are 50 animals to unlock, split between predators and grazers. The story mode even introduces some Sony AIBO robo-pups.

The process of juggling your various appetites and needs is background-stressful in and of itself but Tokyo Jungle also tasks you with completing certain challenges in each decade of your accrued life while chucking in random weather and pollution events that can abruptly cut off the nearby food and fresh water supply. It is a tricky balancing act that can sometimes feel rather unfair, but there is undoubtedly an atavistic thrill to carving out your furry destiny in a blasted world.

If tackling the same relatively unchanging layout with a marginally different character doesn't chafe, it doesn't take too long to get a proper handle on the game. Once you figure out its rhythms and get better at improvising (often literally on the hoof) when acid rain rolls in, progress through the conditional unlock tree of 50 creatures becomes fairly rapid. (There are a further 12 animals still available as DLC, including a stately giraffe, a gleefully lethal crocodile and an apprehensive vegetarian salaryman, each fairly irresistible at 39p.) It plays rather like the earlier Dead Rising games, with time marching ever onward, forcing you to judge what challenges are potentially achievable depending on how many risks you want to take.

These triage assessments will depend on your current beast: the furthest corners of the map that seemed rather impossible to reach as a fluffy yellow chick barely able to fly in a straight line suddenly become much easier to access once you've unlocked the lithe cheetah. That's when you start to piece together how the overground map links with a series of looping underground tunnels, and also how the game's cryptic 14-level story mode has a symbiotic relationship with the collectible data chips scattered around the place.

3

To win the generation game you need to find a willing mate. If you are both in your prime you might even be blessed with a large litter (who function as extra lives).

In a forsaken city devoid of human life, you might expect the default atmosphere to be a certain pastoral hush. Instead, Tokyo Jungle's vision of nature's slow but implacable return to a prelapsarian Eden is soundtracked by Boiler Room session-ready dance beats with snares synchronised to your creature's bounds. This airhorn-ready soundtrack adds an oddly purposeful momentum to each playthrough, garlanded with the constant chirping and honking of status notifications and ticker-tape news alarms. Combined with the oddball clothing items you can equip - like swanky boots, skimpy pet-kinis and spiky helmets - it feels rather like a return to the zany dress-up days of early 2000s superclub Gatecrasher.

Some of the chiming alerts are more fun than others. "Dogenzaka has become a chicken party" indicates that in west Tokyo there will be a surfeit of soft targets for a predator, particularly useful if you are chasing a calories-consumed or animals-killed quota. But "Shibuya Shopping District has become an elephant graveyard" creates something actually pretty unsettling, the eastern streets abruptly filling up with pachyderm corpses to hurriedly scamper around. Put off starting the next generation for too long and you get the unwelcome but perhaps most relatable status update of all: "Abilities decreased due to old age."

Despite that inexorable march toward the elephant graveyard, there is currently a tangible sense of rejuvenation surrounding Tokyo Jungle. Sure, the upper reaches of the all-time online scoreboards are logjammed with players who maxed out their score at 99999999 back in 2012. But the weekly and monthly tables have been reinvigorated with a fresh intake, even if the calculus required to maximise scores via various modifiers remains a little opaque to spring chickens like me.

If you still have a PS3 and haven't grabbed the game already, channel your inner panther and pounce. Its weird sci-fi tale of animal thwackers might leave you cold but any sort of basic survival training - albeit eccentric, random and sometimes cruel - sadly looks like it may yet be useful within the next five years.



Follow Us on Twitter

Does world seem just little closer apocalypse than five years ago? Perhaps thats recently became obsessed with Tokyo Jungle beastly post-cataclysm survival that initial release 2012 generally viewed idiosyncratic throwback rather giant evolutionary leap forward. Developed Japanese studio Crispys PlayStation exclusive ruffled feathers leave much cultural paw-print. Depending talked either weird basic somehow both those things simultaneously.Rather unexpectedly carved groove memory distinctive game icon proud Pomeranian image would cheerily recur friends while spooling through haul downloaded games. Every then cute remind existence Jungle make idly wonder: doggo window? weeks ago when bundled Julys Plus offerings answer was: free good home. Just dont expect lot.Tokyo simply isnt games prepared meet halfway. stubbornly sticks bizarre obstructionist logic demands player essentially around sensation presumably familiar owners. inherent strangeness ripened into something sweet. eerily abandoned decade after humankind mysteriously vanished. Over time some insistent flora crept back turn fauna. From household pets common livestock exotics unexpected Jurassic comebacks emphatically animal kingdom where only strongest survive. With emphasis Pomeranians Beagles Golden Retrievers stately Tosas initially feels like Crufts meets Legend.Read more…

Related stories with Best in show: revisiting the cataclysmic strangeness of Tokyo Jungle

Mugabe says NO, as VP offers to resign over 'public humiliation' by Grace – report -World News
Mugabe says NO, as VP offers to resign over 'public humiliation' by Grace – report 2 months ago
Embattled Zimbabwean Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly offered to resign last week over what he called repeated "public humiliation" by President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace.
Several roads in Johor Baru to close for royal wedding -World News
Several roads in Johor Baru to close for royal wedding 2 months ago
August 13, 2017 2:25 PMJOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several roads in Johor Baru will be closed for the royal wedding which is set to take place at Istana Besar on Monday (Aug 14).
Bogus doc who made 'rounds' in Malaysia hospital for a year to be sent for psychiatric evaluation -World News
Bogus doc who made 'rounds' in Malaysia hospital for a year to be sent for psychiatric evaluation 2 months ago
August 13, 2017 2:40 PMALOR SETAR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The man who posed as a doctor at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Setar and went unnoticed for a whole year will be sent to a mental hospital in Tanjung Rambutan soon.
Bangladeshi man who planted a tree every day since he was 12 dies aged 60 -World News
Bangladeshi man who planted a tree every day since he was 12 dies aged 60 2 months ago
August 13, 2017 2:57 PMDHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Bangladeshi rickshaw-puller who made planting trees his life's mission, died of post-surgery complications in the early hours on Saturday (Aug 12).
At least six dead, dozens missing, in Indian landslide -World News
At least six dead, dozens missing, in Indian landslide 2 months ago
August 13, 2017 3:04 PMSHIMLA, INDIA (AFP) - At least six people have been killed and dozens more are missing after a massive landslide swept two buses off a hillside into a deep gorge in mountainous northern India, an official said Sunday (Aug 13).
Singapore's new-look 4x100m relay team sets modest SEA Games target -World News
Singapore's new-look 4x100m relay team sets modest SEA Games target 2 months ago
SINGAPORE: At the 2015 SEA Games, Singapore's 4x100m relay team raced to their fourth consecutive silver, setting a national record of 39.24 seconds in front of a home crowd. This month, a new squad with four debutants will take to the track for the Ku
Going low-tech to solve everyday high-tech problems -World News
Going low-tech to solve everyday high-tech problems 2 months ago
How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives?
Argentina primary vote measures appetite for populist ex president -World News
Argentina primary vote measures appetite for populist ex president 2 months ago
Argentines vote on Sunday in a closely watched mid-term primary election that will test their appetite for bringing back the left-wing populism of former President Cristina Fernandez.
How to Snowboard And Surf In Australia On The Same Glorious Winter's Day -World News
How to Snowboard And Surf In Australia On The Same Glorious Winter's Day 2 months ago
Yes, you can really do this. And Torah Bright popped by to show us how.
Ballabhgarh again: 2 men thrown from moving train after fight over seat, 1 dies -World News
Ballabhgarh again: 2 men thrown from moving train after fight over seat, 1 dies 2 months ago
One of the two succumbed to his injuries before he could be rushed to the hospital and the other has sustained grievous injuries.
SC refuses to entertain fresh plea against triple talaq -World News
SC refuses to entertain fresh plea against triple talaq 2 months ago
While disposing of the plea filed by one Gurudas Mitra, the apex court bench said, "It is needless to mention that the determination rendered in the pending petitions will govern the outcome of the present petition as well."
UK to release Brexit plans in effort to bat away claims of muddled thinking -World News
UK to release Brexit plans in effort to bat away claims of muddled thinking 2 months ago
The British government is fighting back against criticism that it is divided and unprepared for Brexit, announcing it will publish a set of detailed proposals on customs arrangements, the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and other issues. The