Tokyo Tattoo Girls (Vita) Review – Watching the rise of Numbers
Platforms: Vita (reviewed), PC
Developer: Sushi Typhoon Games
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 14/17th October 2017
Sushi Typhoon Games, a newly established japanese developer, released their first two games during the last year in Japan. While Aksys Games brought Creeping Terrors to the west, NIS America snatched Tokyo Tattoo Girls to localise. Unfortunately, their investment in a little game of a young studio doesn´t bear many fruits, despite a lot promising ideas.
After a calamity befell Tokyo, nearly destroying it, mysterious tattoos appeared on girls all around the city. Quickly a hierarchy was established by the ones with stronger tattoos, dividing the city into 23 wards. Now a girl and her tattoo artist, which is conveniently controlled by us, set out to unite all wards and defeat those with power, while becoming more and more powerful.
Frankly, the base idea of having a giant catastrophe flipping the whole world order upside down, actually is pretty interesting especially with the tattoos. Discovering the nature of this event or why the tattoos appeared could´ve been very interesting. Sadly, Tokyo Tattoo Girls quickly forgets about its origin story or potential, diving right into a world without context, climaxes or any valuable storytelling.
After choosing one of the various girls, each associated with a different playstyle, there´s a short intro scene but that´s mostly it. Throughout the journey of conquering all 23 wards, the most we learn about each girl is their personality, a thing already summarized when they´re selected. From time to time there may be special events for every character, featuring a mostly separated event of their life, like the selfie-loving girl visiting a porn studio … or so. Honestly, those moments aren´t bad in general due to the surprisingly good writing and punchlines but compared to the set-up, everything surrounding the story is lackluster. Tokyo Tattoo Girls lacks any kind of memorable characters, an explanation for its setting or, most important of all, a big storyline. Nothing feels unique, just like exchangeable ideas, able to survive through competent writing.
Yet, playing it is actually even worse if you´re not a fan of watching numbers. At its core, Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a basic idle game, selecting a ward to capture and observing how either the enemies or allies decrease in numbers is the only and most intense thing. Yes, it´s an idle game at its finest, sending us on a quest to tap on those 23 wards, wait a while and repeat the process. At least on easy a playthrough took about ~1-2 hours without challenging much except my patience.
On higher difficulties the game may start to toss in more obstacles and mechanics to consider but ultimately fails at providing a diverse experience. Watching out for already conquered districts to rebel or even be attacked, while expanding the own territory should provide a change in pacing, forcing us to focus on inner conflicts rather than exterior ones. Obviously, it doesn´t work due to the static, slow gameplay, transforming into just another annoying factor, actively slowing down every aspect of the game than making it more dynamic.
Nonetheless, probably the biggest missed potential are the climatic battles at the end of a successfully captured ward. Every part is controlled by one strong girl who has to be defeated before fully absorbing their territory. Even though Tokyo Tattoo Girls decided to be an idle clicker, rather than a turn-based RPG which could´ve fit so much better, Sushi Typhoon Games could still implement a little boss battle here. Instead the climax of each minute long wait consists of disappointing flashy images and some text, unable to impress anyone or characterize the unique leaders in even the slightest bit.
Remaining as the only promising aspect is the name giving tattooing of each girl and it´s pretty alright. Once enough credits are earned it´s possible to level-up certain abilities like faster capturing of certain type of districts, through tattoos on their back. Not only is it a unique concept but also features a ton of diverse stats to improve, hence offering dozens of stunningly designed body paintings. Seeing how their back is slowly shining in bright colours and motives gives a great sense of progression, that also looks absolutely great. If they would actually grant new skills it would be even better, sadly numbers return here as well.
Speaking of great colour and visual design, as you may have noticed, Tokyo Tattoo Girls may not be a great game but nails its artstyle. Character portraits are a mix of really good-looking “realistic”drawings and chibi variations looking just as cute. Surely it doesn´t differentiate much from other japanese games but in combination with the tattoo theme, everything gets a slight twist. Seeing tattooed girls is, to this date, still a very uncommon thing in games. On the other hand, things like the map or music are nothing more than average, only profiting from the overall stylish presentation.
Oh, Tokyo Tattoo Girls, why did you need to be an idle clicker? When I first heard of the concept of having power-granting tattoos, a band of cute girls and 23 wards to conquer, I imagined a RPG would be the only possible fit. How wrong I was. Through mostly funny and thoughtless conversations Sushi Typhoon Games lost both their interesting main plot and every way to tell a believable story. Bombarded with forgettable characters or dropped concepts we click our way towards victory, patiently waiting minutes over minutes to finally see a number dropping to 0, before repeating this process. There is nothing except the creative theme and skill system worth the price. It could also work as a F2P mobile game.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]