The visual novel is a tricky thing. When not handled well it can feel like it’s railroading the player down a preset path with the idea of “interactivity” being forgotten in order to force the story through. When done right, however, you get Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. The charm and utter adorableness of absolutely every part of the package is simply a bonus.
Friday Monsters is the story of Sohta, a young boy who’s recently moved into town, and it’s Friday night so the kaiju monsters will be attacking soon. The adults aren’t too worried about this, but the kids are getting ready to head to the hilltop, where they’ll watch the weekly spectacle of the monster being defeated by the brave forces of whatever heroic organization is doing the fighting. It’s a perfect sunny afternoon, the town is filled with friendly people to talk to, and everyone has a subplot to explore. The nostalgia for a romanticized version of 1970s Japan sounds like it would overwhelm Friday Monsters, but the world and its characters are presented with such a likeable touch that it’s almost impossible for one’s internal grumpy cynic to awaken.
As Sohta makes his way from his parents’ dry cleaners shop, he can freely explore the town and talk to its inhabitants. The town is presented in a fixed-camera style, with each section viewed from a set angle. The town is small enough that it’s easy to navigate, and the minimap on the touch screen always lets you know where to find the next plot point. Sohta runs through town, meets its inhabitants, gets ready for the big evening monster attack, and makes friends with the local kids by playing cards.
Most of Friday Monsters can be solved simply by talking to everyone, but the kids have a card game that they challenge each other to. It’s a form of Rock Paper Scissors played with five cards, and cards are earned by finding or earning eight of the same kind of glim. As you explore the map glims are scattered about the landscape, some obvious and others hidden, and Sohta grabs them automatically by running over them. Once he’s got five cards completed he can play the other kids in town, and the winner becomes the “boss” of the loser. The advantage of being the boss is that the other kids will give Sohta more info, and it’s always good to be listened to when a giant monster attack is imminent.
Eventually the story unfolds and all mysteries are solved, and that will be roughly three to four hours after the opening theme song starts. Technically Friday Monsters is fairly short, but every second of its duration is exactly what it needs to be. The town is lovely, the narration is honestly cute, and the characters memorable. Attack of the Friday Monsters is a perfect bite-sized chunk of story-based gaming, and will easily blow past any cynical defenses to take up a warm and fuzzy place in your heart.