The Allure of Tokyo Jungle

In the last decade, I’ve played a lot of Grand Theft Auto. I put countless hours into the Playstation 2 entries in the series, and for a while I put a bunch of time into Grand Theft Auto IV. Part of the fun was regaling to my friends the countless stories of my madness inspired runs through the in-game landscapes. As I’ve said before, I don’t really have much of a mean streak when it comes to gaming, especially when it comes to realistic interpretations of people. As a teenager, that didn’t stop me from having crazy adventures in Liberty City. I don’t get those sort of gaming adventure stories that often anymore, but upon playing a bit of Tokyo Jungle, I realized this is the sort of game I’ve been waiting for for a long time now.

On my first real run, I roamed the streets of Shibuya as a small pomeranian ankle-biter. Humanity is long gone, and the animals are left to pick up the pieces. Similar to a run in Grand Theft Auto, it is your job to survive by any means necessary. You’ve gotta fight for territory amongst the rest of the wildlife. Everything from rabbits to giraffes to velociraptors(!) could stand in your way. Food is a necessity, along with a capable mate to carry on your legacy. It’s a real jungle out there.

I started my Pomeranian claim to power, marking my territory around the Shibuya district. I managed to make the area my own, and happened to attract a mate to carry on my legacy. We found a nest and started a family of four pups to take on the reclaimed streets. My four pups went on to explore the area further, hoping to reclaim more of Shibuya from a large gathering of cats. For a while, food became scarce. I had to be very careful with the paths I was taking. Due to the lack of food, two of my pups were lost to hunger. I was sad, but the remaining two had to carry on.

We found the gang of cats, and started to make a push to reclaim the Shibuya suburbs. We made a little bit of headway, but it wasn’t the cats that ended my spree; it was the curse of aging. My near thirty year legacy came to an end after the last of my pups succumb to old age without starting a new family. I was a little crushed, but for my first real try, I called it a success.

This game is low budget, and doesn’t look as amazing as a big budget title might, but unlike a lot of games, it oozes personality. These sort of games don’t come around that often anymore. The huge jump in budget requirements between generations has caused a lot of this sort of bizarre creativity to fall by the wayside. In Japan, Tokyo Jungle was a retail disc release. It was released yesterday in the US as a PSN download, but I’m just thankful this game actually managed to come out here. These are the sort of weird games I’ve been missing for a while.

My favorite kind of games are ones like these that something unique to offer. In a world where more and more games are becoming homogenized and railroaded into become these bland, linear experiences, Tokyo Jungle comes as a real breath of fresh air. I really like this game, and I’m really excited to put more time into it.

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