Tokyo Tattoo Girls, published by NIS America and Nikkatsu, starts off with fun and promise. In a post-apocalyptic world, there are special woman that are born with powers that are enhanced by tattoos. When you enter the game, there are 23 wards each with their own gang lord. And all of them are pretty Japanese girls. Not surprising though since this is Japan.
When you begin the actual game, you can pick one of 6 girls, whom you think might have their own special power, but as the game progressed I discovered I was wrong. You are treated to a Risk boardgame type strategic game where your goal is to persuade Punks or Clanwomen to join you. As each day in-game passes, your Yen grows until you can use special power cards to entice either Punks or Clanwomen to join you. When you have enough on your side, you can challenge that ward's boss to a fight.
And the fight is not what you think it would be. There is a discussion with the Clan boss lady, then you can pick one of three final statements, which are measured against Ok, Good and Super. No matter which option you get, there is a small, 3 second cloud battle that you have no control over and you win. The only effect your choice had was the level of bonus that you would receive thereafter.
And then there are the tattoos. When you go to the tattoo parlor, your lady strips down completely naked. Ok, so you won't see any frontal, as she will be lying nude on the table for you to implant the tattoos on her. But you get enough side boob and upper bum cheek action for this to be slight raunchy. And each time you tattoo her, she lets off this moan that.... yeah, let's not go there.
The tattoos are used to increase her power over Punks and Clanwomen. On the left side of her back, tattoos increase her Charm and can therefore pursuade more Punks. The right side increases her Threat which persuades Clanwomen more. Each tattoo has 3 levels to them: the outline, the greyness and then the full color. Yen is spent per level, but when all the tattoos are done, her back looks both powerful and gorgeous at the same time.
And that's basically the game. There is are small mini games, such as collecting suitcases of cash that land on wards that you have to tap on with the PS Vita, or gambling sites where you can throw away / win some hard earned money. It's all up to chance, and you don't have any control of the gambling game except to throw the dice and wish for the best.
The graphics are absolutely stunning and immaculate. They opted for the anime style art, which was a real beauty to behold. Much of the Japanese culture is brought forward in the artwork, and even the girls speak in pure Japanese, with English subtitles or cloud dialogue. It really makes you feel like you are a real Clan Lord on the rise.
The game is pretty easy to learn from the start. Granted, there are a few things missing that would have made it better, but we'll get to that in a bit. As the Vita is based on touchscreen, this game caters for that level of gameplay very well. Whether it is touching the wards to raise the Punks there, catching the briefcases or touching your character's lower back to put tattoos there (ahem...), the game pulls of the Vita's functionality perfectly.
Everything seems rather simple in the beginning. You gain Yen, buy cards to bring warriors over to your side in any ward you want, and then used cards to fight off Clan Wars and Red Alerts. However, when you've conquered about 13 wards, it all becomes a bit strenuous. Suddenly you are overwhelmed with Clan wars, Red Alerts, and Clan boss ladies constantly attacking you while you try to keep up. There was a few times when 5 boss ladies attacked me one after each other. The main map of wards hardly loaded when the next one attacked me, not giving me a chance to do anything but participate.
There were times when selecting wards could be difficult, especially with my pudgy fingers. You can zoom in to select wards more easily, but I found this wasted valuable time so I just tried harder to make sure I selected wards properly. This resulted in me upgraded wrong wards sometimes and swearing in anger at myself for not reading which ward I was in.
The various difficulty levels made you want to replay the game often. Also, by playing the various girls, you unlock footage for each of them in the gallery, making you want to play the game over and over again simply to unlock all the images. This is one of those boardgame type games that you can pick up anytime.
I managed to complete it on easy mode in 30 mins, so if you are looking for time to kill for any reason, Tokyo Tattoo Girls is perfect and can be replayed many times over. There is no new content to unlock except for the Gallery items, so replayability is simply to have some fun when you have nothing else to do. And for Risk fans, you will want to definitely try this out.
WHAT IT COULD HAVE DONE BETTER
Alright. So as much as I loved this game, there are a few things it could have done that would have made me love it more. Perhaps only because I had certain expectations for it, based on world domination games I've played like Universe at War and Dawn of War 2, which might be unfair on my part.
When facing the Clan boss ladies, I was disappointed that there was no fight mechanism I could have taken control of myself. The selection of an answer, and then the small cloud fight, felt anticlimactic. I wanted to fight those sexy ass Clan bosses myself and take control of their ward with power.
There was one other element I would have liked to have included. At the bottom of the world map, there is an indicator of how large your Clan is, the size of Punks and the size of Clanwomen. As you grow in power, your side of the meter increases and their side decreases. However, you never know how close you are to taking a ward yourself. You just keep adding Punks and Clanwomen to a ward, hoping that at some stage the Clan boss fight will begin.
It would have been nice if, when selecting a ward, there was some indication of how close you are to taking it. Granted, when you do go in, the Clan boss leader image does get clearer and clearer, and I assume that is related to how close you are. Some kind of number indication would have been great though.
All in all, this game is sexy, fun and strategic all at the same time. It needs more in terms of marketing, since I did not know the game existed until I was provided with a review code. But once I got my hands on it I played it for several hours without end. There was a simplistic joy in taking out Japanese wards to complete my galleries, while stroking my character's backs with powerful tattoos.
If you haven't picked this one up, I encourage you to get it especially if you like Risk type strategic board games. It's easy to play and you will have loads of fun doing it.