In Japan, a Newborn Chicken Can Defeat a Pride of Lions

Why a quirky Japan-only survival game is on the verge of a worldwide release.

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It started out as a PlayStation CAMP (Creator Audition Mash-Up Project--Acquire's Patchwork Heroes is a previous graduate from this program), but eventually blossomed into one of Sony Japan's most heavily marketed first-party products and second quarter killer apps for the PlayStation 3. Tokyo Jungle (unofficially referred to in my mind as The Third Great Pomeranian Wars) is one of those rough-around-the-edges-but-packed-with-charm surreal types of games in the vein of Incredible Crisis, Earth Defense Force, or Katamari Damacy. The setting is a postapocalyptic Tokyo (primarily the famous Shibuya region) where all the humans have disappeared, leaving the shattered ruins a fertile playground for the local wildlife to flourish and compete in.

By "local wildlife," I mean crocodiles, kangaroos, hippos, giraffes, lions, leopards, tigers, pandas, hyenas, jackals, chickens, chicks, chimpanzees, pterodactyls, zebras, horses, and, of course, the game's omnipresent Pomeranians (the tiny dogs that have been the focal point of Tokyo Jungle's marketing campaign). To find out what happened to all the humans and how the menagerie got loose, well, you'll need to finish the game to discover that.

In short, the game is one long survival mode. Sure, Tokyo Jungle has a linear, mission-based story mode that functions like a guided tour of the different animals you can play as (to play them in the game's main survival mode you have to spend a great deal of time unlocking them), but it's only a taster for Tokyo Jungle's survival mode. It's a game of kill or be killed, survival of the fittest, cat vs. dog, and so on, and the game is coming to the West. Sony discreetly confirmed this at E3, where the game was hidden in Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's booth behind closed doors, like it was some horrible little secret that Sony didn't want to admit to.

But after the avalanche of interest in SCEJ's quirky, rough-hewn little animal mash-up, various Sony execs have started to paint bolder strokes when describing Tokyo Jungle. Perhaps now that they're confident in the interest level of the Western media, they'll avoid making the same mistakes they did when underestimating SCEJ's Demon's Souls, which savvy publisher Atlus picked up. It's sort of a no-brainer that the game is coming to the West as a downloadable game on PSN--it may look cute, but it's actually quite hardcore in concept and execution. But this brings us to the most obvious question: How does a game like this exist?

The easy answer is that it's a Japanese game. Japan is famous for creating quirky, bizarro titles that would never be designed in the West. When Nintendo creates something like Nintendogs, another company creates something like Petz (with a Z for extremeness). For every Katamari Damacy we get in the West, there are dozens more games that are orphaned at immigration. Tokyo Jungle is a game I did not have high hopes for coming to North America. After all, it's called "Tokyo Jungle," so that already may limit its appeal to some audiences. The fact that it's an animal-based game is also another hard sell. Game publishers usually avoid green-lighting games that feature nonhuman protagonists. It's not to say that it isn't done, because of course it does happen. But however strongly you may feel about Ecco the Dolphin, animal-based games are rarely blockbuster successes.

If it weren't for the fact that this is a first-party Sony game, it may never have made it over. We've gotten lucky with the occasional Earth Defense Force slipping through the cracks and working its way over here, but for each of those there are still dozens of D3's Simple 2000 games--light, snack-size arcade-style games of varying production quality--that never make it over.

Regardless of whatever maverick producer at SCEJ championed and nurtured this project to completion, the point is that Tokyo Jungle exists. This is one of those games that make you think, "Man, I really love video games." To hell with driving sims. I can jump in a car any old time I want to and, you know, drive. But how often do you get to play something that's like a whacked-out cross between Metal Gear Solid 3, Battle Royale, and Lord of the Flies? If anything, Tokyo Jungle is a real antidote to all the military shooters and sequels, and space marines in the world. It's getting harder and harder to make crazy games like this in today's ever-changing game climate, so let's celebrate the little bits of gaming insanity we get while we still can. It's good for your soul.

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Discussion

0 comments
Nakor
Nakor

Can't wait for this.  Is there a way to set up a Japanese account on PSN?  I know I used to do that on Xbox Live.

Zerobeam
Zerobeam

There was an SNES game by Enix calld "E.V.O. Search for Eden" It was a great game and I always felt it should have a current-gen remake. While this isn't an exact remake of that, it's pretty close. I'd buy it if it were released here in the U.S.

blairstheman
blairstheman

Damn my girlfriends gonna love this game lmao!! not that im not gonna play the shat out of it either tho :D

R3V3RS3D
R3V3RS3D

I can't lie, I am pretty pumped about this.

Orbitz89
Orbitz89

This looks completely awesome!

Who knew Pomeranians were so voracious.

rasputin177
rasputin177

Here is the thing, is there any actual difference in gameplay between the different animals you can use? Or is it just cosmetic? The gameplay they show looks really boring in terms of combat but perhaps is gets more in depth later.

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

my that is one dog with a bottomless pit for a stomache...

LatinproX
LatinproX

RAPTORS!!!     YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!

ryan_sr97c_1
ryan_sr97c_1

someone translate this to english... im buying this weird piece of i dont know what

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Actually not going to lie..  At first I thought this looked atrocious..  Now however it looks sheer genius!

 

The fact it's on PSN is even better, if it's cheap enough I'm buying :D

white_wind
white_wind

"like it was some horrible little secret that Sony didn't want to admit to"  .. EXACTLY !

Uiltetwr
Uiltetwr

This LOOKS AWESOME japan home of innovation in gaming

leandrro
leandrro

so tokyo has been destroyed and the only thing remaining is this game? not even then i wold play such thing

beardedkillacam
beardedkillacam

lol its the simple games like this that usually grab the attention of many :)

Lunastra78
Lunastra78

Hell yeah, not an even an army of inbred bro gamers could stop me from buying this.

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

I should really watch more nature documentaries, I didn't know animals fought in such Devil May Cry fashion.

HapiJoel
HapiJoel

Cant wait for this, looks hilerious

Hurvl
Hurvl

"In Japan, a Newborn Chicken Can Defeat a Pride of Lions" That's because pride comes before the fall.

Straperry
Straperry

Oh no all the animal-rights activist people will be upset at this game and require it to be banned or censored!

 

So they should start with National Geographic!

AndRoo_DaGuru
AndRoo_DaGuru

The ferocious Pomeranian consumes at least twenty rabbits a day, their digestion truly be said something out of this world.

slotheater
slotheater

anybody remember the snes game e.v.o.  well this reminds me of that... kinda... anyway i love weird games from japan im buying this...

tandukbadak
tandukbadak

I hope it's not English dubbed. lol.

tandukbadak
tandukbadak

Japanese games are crazy. That's why I like it.

KingofCabal
KingofCabal

The people who invented this game needs some help and im saying this while totally stoned.

SS4_Trunks
SS4_Trunks

I don't remember them saying anything about having a special attack, but it would be cool to have different attacks and have one special attack to each of the animal's own.

Grim_Reaper007
Grim_Reaper007

This game looks like one of those straight to bargain bin titles.

skratchmasta
skratchmasta

How this can be fun for more than two minutes is beyond me. This embodies everything people hate in Japanese games; an obsession with shallow customization, repetitive gameplay, and a love of grinding to advance. 

Psycold
Psycold

The Japanese always come up with the weirdest stuff.

jazz778
jazz778

This game is fun and interesting. When will this game release? I want to try it.

Iffy350
Iffy350

What's not to love about blood thirsty pomeranian?

deepNraw
deepNraw

This is flippin' awesome.

DukeBriggs
DukeBriggs

 @Straperry It's okay if it's animal on animal violence, unless PETA is going to try to put a stop to that. There goes the circle of life.

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

 @SnappySnake under 18 but plays fps to excess and yells at other players for being noobs... calls everyone bra' or bro'... yeah, i know the type.

skratchmasta
skratchmasta

 @Eruu Likely 100% of the comments posted by you are moronic, I've dealt with it. 

Eruu
Eruu

 @skratchmasta 80% of games released by US developers a year are shit, deal with it.