Tokyo Crash Mob is a puzzle game for the Nintendo 3DS. It was developed by Mitchell Co. as well as Nintendo SPD (Software Planning and Development) and then published by Nintendo. Originally released via the Nintendo eShop on Jan 17th, it was one of the first games for the Nintendo 3DS and even Nintendo for 2013. A bizarre “storyline” mixed with a series of increasingly challenging puzzles gives Tokyo Crash Mob a hectic and disorienting feel that will take some getting used to on the player’s end. The game has a very addictive quality as well as some new ideas that add to the spice of the puzzle genre as a whole.
People are either getting in your way, or trying to suck you through a black hole. That’s it, well, sort of. The story for Tokyo Crash Mob is shown through bits and pieces in short cut-scenes that attempt to give a reason as to why you’re tossing similarly color-coded people at one another. Ultimately you play as one of two females, Grace or Savannah. Grace’s story loosely progresses as her attempting to get into various establishments only to find a seemingly endless line, which she must then clear. Savannah on the other hand gets far more abstract as people attempt to reach a red button which will send Savannah to a rather morbid black hole related death. Both plots are incredibly loose and while the “story” is there, it’s definitely meant to be taken with a grain of salt as ultimately you’re playing Tokyo Crash Mob for the gameplay, not the plot.
With the plot being haphazard and loose, the gameplay seeks to snuff out those wary of Tokyo Crash Mob with fast-paced action. Grace and Savannah are both controlled by the stylus of the 3DS and operate in a similar fashion of using a tap to indicate where either character will throw the unfortunate pedestrian they are carrying. Grace’s line of pedestrians to take down will move in a snake-like pattern ahead of her and be pretty straight forward to take down as you simply toss the pedestrian to the indicated area. Savannah on the other hand will have a line of pedestrians circling around her in a vortex like manner as they move towards the black-hole button. She will then have to roll the pedestrians to the indicated area, the difficulty comes in having to hold on a selected space (with the stylus) in order to get pedestrians to jump, so the player can hit groups farther back. The purpose of the rolling/tossing is to match similiarly colored enemies together in groups of three or more, and thus “destroy” them. The learning curve for both of these styles of gameplay is incredibly steep and often times unforgiving. While using the stylus can oftentimes lead to awkward hand movements in an attempt to tap through the hordes of “enemies”, using ones hand on the touch pad can prove equally problematic as the sensitivity of the game itself will work against the bulkiness of the player’s fingers. Those unaccustomed to the stylus will find the game near impossible as accuracy is required, which simply isn’t granted by use of fingers to indicate trajectory for neither toss, nor roll. One fun tidbit of odd gameplay is actually featured in the cinematic section of Tokyo Crash Mob’s menu. Attempting to review previously seen scenes requires the player to participate in a path guessing mini-game that has the negative consequence of viewing a highly creepy man or woman turn to face the player and nod “no” or indicate the wrong direction via sign.
Graphics/SoundWhile blending live-action and animation isn’t something new to the videogame industry, Tokyo Crash Mob’s attempt is nothing short of perfect. A very stylized approach to the use of live action gives a “flip-book” feel to the movements of the characters and allows for a very funny feel to the game as the comical aspects shine through in this regard. Over-exaggerated movements allow the player to differential groups of enemies and more accurately hit the targets without having to over analyze who needs to be hit with the currently loaded pedestrian for throwing. This over-exaggeration can be the difference between winning, or losing, a round as some of the colors are a tad similar when attempting to match up enemies. However the diversity of the enemies in both movement style and appearance greatly helps differentiate. As far as sound goes, it simply works. It’s fast paced, exciting and changes based on the urgency of the situation. The clock is running out? Fast paced. Enemies nearing the button? Fast paced. Enemies beaten back from the button? Normal speed. It’s all high energy and interesting melodies regardless of the urgency, but it speeds up or slows down to match. Even little sounds of the enemies being defeated add to the music as their little death screams will simply fill your heart with joy. Finally, regarding the eerie tune played when you choose the wrong path in the aforementioned cinematic “mini-game”, well, its best we don’t talk about that. Ever.
Getting down to brass tacks, it’s a puzzle game. It requires logic solving skills under pressure, and if you don’t have that you will simply not have an ounce of fun. That being said, it is quite a clever puzzle game and, while too bizarre for words, has a certain charm to it as you attempt to assemble a plot out of the seemingly non-sequitur cut-scenes. Some of the color schemes will blend, which can be a problem when working on a timer, and to top it off it’s, simply put, incredibly difficult. It will start out with basics and then immediately throw you into some pretty challenging levels without so much as a “you have been warned”, but hey, that’s puzzle solving right? All in all, if you’re looking for a real challenge and some pretty solid “WTF” laughs, you’re in the right place. If you want things put straight forward (read: jumping, shooting, etc.) and something that will ease you into the “nitty-gritty”, then its best you skip out on Tokyo Crash Mob.