Tokyo 42 is more beautiful than it is practical. SMAC Games have presented one of the most appealing games I have seen in a long time. However, some key mechanics make it so frustrating that no amount of artistic creativity helps.
You begin in your small apartment in Tokyo in the year 2042 while watching the local news. A murder has just happened and the police have already honed in on the killer and the news team is ready to show the apprehension. Cue your 15 minutes of fame. This also the first introduction to the simplicity of Tokyo 42. Everything is 8-bit, right down to the shower in your flat. As you scramble about, trying to figure out what your next move is, you quickly grasp the basic controls.
One of the nicest things about this game is how easy it is to control everything. From moving to camera work, the scheme works well. It allows you to enjoy your surroundings that become more and more intricate and detailed as you progress through the game. The first “level” you embark on is on the smaller side but still has distinct features; flying cars, parks, waterfalls, tall buildings, and a central hub. Every single corner hides another wonderful creation to gaze upon and take in. Make sure not to spend too much time just wandering the world, there are plenty of missions to do.
In an effort to clear your name, you are tasked with doing “jobs” out of a vending machine. It is Japan in the year 2042 after all. Ironically, these jobs entail you killing people for one reason or another. The idea is that you will work your way up the chain and get some real answers. Through easy introductory tasks, you will learn how to hit, kill, shoot, and grenade your way through enemies. Sadly, this is where Tokyo 42 struggles a bit.
While it is fun to use the beautifully crafted world to your advantage, the aiming mechanics of the game are not the greatest. Often times you will line up a shot and somehow the bullet misses. Other times you will go to dodge an incoming bullet and think you have safely maneuvered out of the way to only take it to the chest anyways. It’s extremely disappointing when fighting droves of people and one stray bullet out of the dozens fired at you magically hits you. On the flip side every spray of bullets and grenade lobbed miss their target. Sure, you can spin the world around to “get a better angle,” but this takes time and usually does more damage than good.
I did enjoy the fair amount of parkour that was involved in maneuvering about the world. Jumping from building to building or scaling the side of a skyscraper for a better vantage point. I rarely felt like I plummeted to my death wrongfully and the camera operations made traversing tricky spots unique but challenging.
If you get used to the combat mechanics enough to play for a decent amount, you’ll soon run into another problem. A lot of the missions seem repetitive. Understandably, they are all similar in nature; kill target A at location B. After awhile though, this becomes a bit tiresome and I found myself trying to rush through only to progress the story.
The story told by Tokyo 42 is done amazingly. Very original and creative and fits the world painted around you so well. With twists, turns, and zingy one liners, it does well to combat the monotonous gameplay.
In the end, Tokyo 42 looks amazing and has a good story to follow. Unfortunately, it also has some large flaws with it’s execution that make it very difficult to get through and enjoy the beauty.