Posted 26 September

TOKYO JUNGLE: The Story Behind 2012′s Most Eccentric Action Game

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Today sees the keenly-anticipated digital release of one of the most off-the-wall games you’ll play this year – Sony Japan Studio‘s lunatic action title TOKYO JUNGLE.

For the uninitiated, it plays out in a post-apocalyptic vision of Japan’s sprawling metropolis where humans are extinct and the streets are fought over by gangs of animals. At its core, it’s a survival game that lets you answer that rarely-posed question: what would happen if a gang of Pomeranians went toe-to-toe with a velociraptor, while a posse of baby chickens waited in the wings ready peck the victor to death? It’s mad as a proverbial badger, but it’s immensely enjoyable to play.

A quick viewing of the game’s eye-popping launch trailer below should raise all manner of queries – principally, ‘Why?‘. So, PlayStation Blog caught up with the game’s director Yohei Kataoka in Tokyo last week in the hope of getting a few answers.

First and foremost, what possessed you to make a game in which you can pit a house cat against a panda bear in a brutal fight to the death?

Yohei Kataoka: In Japan it’s always been a universal concept of having a world without humans. And animals are also kind of a universal concept. So both of these concepts are quite popular, but I felt that if we could combine these two ideas it could result in something very catchy, very new and very exciting.

What was Sony Japan Studio’s initial response when you pitched the concept?

Yohei Kataoka: It was bad! Initially! It wasn’t received so well at the very beginning. I think there weren’t so many people that thought this game would sell just based on the concept, but as the game started to take form there was good user reaction and feedback.

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Tokyo Jungle producer Masaaki Yamagiwa and director Yohei Kataoka.

Were you surprised at how enthusiastically your TGS 2010 reveal was received in Europe?

Yohei Kataoka: When we started to show the game in Europe, we saw that there was a good response and reaction and that actually in some respects pushed forward the development of the game. Like any other project, it might just have stopped with a Japanese release, or depending on how gamers and media reacted, it may actually have stopped development all together. But we had an opportunity to show the videos to Europe and US audiences and the European audience thought it was hilarious. So maybe there is something more similar in the sensibilities of Europeans and the Japanese. We thought we’d be able to release in Japan and Europe but we weren’t so sure about the US. But we got help and we’re now able to release there as well.

Were you frustrated that much of the coverage of the game has focussed on how eccentric the concept is, rather than the gameplay itself?

Yohei Kataoka: We wanted that hook, first of all, to get the attention. Then, as people played it and gathered more information they would find out that it’s a real game with substance. So we took time to make sure that was there – the substance – and took time to tune the gameplay.

Initially when [Sony Worldwide Studios president] Yoshida-san said that he didn’t necessarily have a positive view of the project, he explained there was a catchiness to the concept but the gameplay itself wasn’t at the same level. So we had to take some time to bring that up to the same level. That’s why it took some time from Tokyo Game Show 2010 for these adjustments to take place.

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How difficult is it to balance the gameplay when you have chickens fighting polar bears?

Yohei Kataoka: The point of the game is not to fight and win against whatever animal you’re against. The point of the game is to survive as long as you can. So a baby chicken and a polar bear have their own survival methods – there are different skill sets needed for different animals.

Did you manage to squeeze your own pets into the game?

Yohei Kataoka: I only have a cat – but yes, it’s in the game!

A quick final word for Plus members. You can claim 20% off the standard £9.99/€12.99/AUS$19.95 price tag for the first two weeks on release, and get the Animal Character Bundle skin pack for free for one week.

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Comments

32 Comments 4 Author replies
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Really like the idea of this game, just not willing to pay £10 for it. I know it got full retail release in Japan, so we should be happy it’s not priced that way over here, but I was hoping for £8, and then a PS+ discount of about 25%

I’ll leave it for now and wait to see if it turns up with a bigger discount soon (I only have £6.57 in my wallet and can’t afford to top up this month)

But I definitely love the idea, something truly unique.

 

looks like a, unique, game, but something like this where i have literally no frame of reference for how it plays is not the kind of game i’d buy without trying first.

 

Great looking game, and excellent behind-the-scenes interview.

Love the art impressions (especially the last one), even though the actual game doesn’t look nearly as slick. Please tell me you have game codes to dish out for the weekend debate?? :-)

On the subject of the weekend debate (clever link, huh?), please don’t only hold it for GB, us EU gamers want a chance to participate too!

    Fred Dutton 26 September, 2012 @ 3:24 pm    

    No promises re. Weekend Debate codes but I’ll see what I can do! And yep, WD is open to (almost) the whole EU region.

 

What does ‘released today’ actually mean? Is there a specific time (e.g. 8PM UTC) set for all new releases, or can it vary?

 

Fantastic! Finally a reason to turn the PS3 on again after Journey. Thanks guys for thinking outside the box. IGN Review 8/10

http://uk.ign.com/games/tokyo-jungle-139049/ps3-85484

 
dogwalker4000 26 September, 2012 @ 3:34 pm   6

Decided I’m getting this now, was umming and ahhing about it but I’m now sold.

 
Terrordactyl 26 September, 2012 @ 3:42 pm   7

Why no demo?

An unusual game like this really needs a demo so that people can see if they like it before buying.

I thought TJ won some sort of Sony competition and thats why it got made.Possibly thinking of a different game,but I’m sure it was TJ.

A demo would be nice,but I was practically sold in 2010.Lol,even the Starhawk MP can wait until next week now.

 

Been waiting for this game since I saw ManVsGame stream it on Twitch. Been looking forward to it since then.

I’ve heard the price for the game will be quite low, and some really neet DLC coming up.

 
chrisboers 26 September, 2012 @ 4:55 pm   10

(In other, totally unrelated news: Mass Effect Trilogy coming to PS3! Yay! Yes, that INCLUDES the very first Mass Effect! Triple Yay!)

MonkfishEsq 26 September, 2012 @ 5:02 pm   11

It’s 5pm and the only thing that’s up is the first DLC pack. Where’s the game?

    Fred Dutton 26 September, 2012 @ 5:06 pm    

    Apologies, be patient, the Store update is rolling out now. Try doing a search for it – you might get in there first before its listing pops up.

GalapagosaraY 26 September, 2012 @ 5:05 pm   12

wondering wil lthere be a demo of it or eventually ? ive always been intrigued by this title but its gotten extremely mixed reviews and the price tag is a bit steep to just jump at it and hope its a great game :P

 

So many unique experiences on the PSS, i love it :). Gonna pick this one up soon!

BlueBomber_ 26 September, 2012 @ 6:52 pm   14

No chance to get it as a retail release? :(

 

Yeah, really bad decision not offer a demo for this game. It seems to be rather unique so you can’t really estimate if it will please you personally. And the reviews are too mixed for a clear decision.

 

Oh, as I see the weekend debates being mentioned … did you find time to send the Borderlands 2 bags already Fred?
If you have any tracking number, I’d like to see the estimated delivery date. I have made mixed experiences with orders from the UK. ;)

 
Skydancerx 26 September, 2012 @ 8:26 pm   17

Played the Game on GC. Really Weird Game but looks very interesseting and i enjoyed the Game. Price is fair so far, but i was also hopping for a Plus discount.

 

Buy this game – it’s brilliant.

the only reason I’m not playing it right now is the hubb kicked me off the telly to watch a film.

it’s not mental, its a survival sim with strategy and its brilliant and i’m really annoyed that the hubb needed to watch night of the demon NOW

 
Skydancerx 26 September, 2012 @ 9:43 pm   19

Yeah… there is actually a Plus Discount. Buyed the Game a few moments ago :)

 
dogwalker4000 27 September, 2012 @ 9:15 am   20

Just played for half hour, would be playing now but I gotta go out :(

This is gonna get addictive…

hitman_stephen 27 September, 2012 @ 9:31 am   21

IS THIS THE GAME YOU CAN REMOTE PLAY WITH VIA THE PS VITA?

im sure it is but want to make sure before buying it :)

KillaT2501 27 September, 2012 @ 9:40 am   22

This game is awesome, it’s new and familiar at the same time. The strange combination of Metal Gear style platforming and animals really works.

This along with the Last Guy and a whole bunch of others would be perfect on the Vita.

 

Looks very good. Kinda skipped to half way thru the trailer to see a Pomeranian. My parents have them. NASTY little things!

Will get this but… Probably not @ £8 though. Too many great games on the horizon, and in my back catalogue, to splurge £8 on a game I’ve only heard about for 5 minutes.

 

This game really needs a demo for people to try out, I did buy it and it’s really fun ,but for the few people on the edge a demo would really really benefit.

 
Prem-aka-Prince 27 September, 2012 @ 2:29 pm   25

Wow, never seen a ps blog game post turn into a de facto user review hub (from people who’ve actually played the game), but I like it.

Fred, I was happy to see an included link to the Eurogamer review, as they were typically my favourite source for game reviews, however after after enduring the boundless unprofessionalism of the article I can do anything but trust the reviewer. (How are there still self-respecting journos who STILL don’t know how to use the word ‘literally’?) Coupled with their relatively recent disgrace coverage of the Apple stock price…

I digress. Long story short I don’t trust IGN anymore either. Funny how the ones you liked the most are the ones who can lose your trust most unforgivably.

Wait, I got distracted again. I don’t trust the review or her conclusion, but I do trust some of the more detailed and objective merits she mentiones in between all the junk. Coupled with this post -thanks for taking the time/making the effort Fred and Yohei- I think I’ll give this game a chance.

 
Prem-aka-Prince 27 September, 2012 @ 2:30 pm   26

To any users reading this, one review mentions multiplayer, but I’ve seen no mention of it elsewhere. I was not expecting any. Can anyone confirm this, and if so, explain it?

 

Game is worth its price! Try something different. It’s part Japanese arcade game, part stealth and part strategy. Not tried multiplayer but looks like local co-op.

 
Nomembrane 28 September, 2012 @ 5:43 am   28

Any chance that we will see the DLC mentioned within the game menu?

Some very cool animals that are DLC only and would love to be able to play as them at some stage.

Thanks!

 
l_skynet_l 28 September, 2012 @ 8:17 am   29

I’ve been wanting this game for months! I never thought it would get released over here, kudos for making that happen.

I was playing for a good few hours last night, I was not disappointed. Its more ‘Arcadey’ than I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. The strategy element is still very strong, which I like. I just hope that not all the animals I want to play as are going to released as DLC instead.

 
Lord_Gremlin 28 September, 2012 @ 7:46 pm   30

Enjoying this game a lot, but I have an issue… Why can’t we buy ALL DLC animals? I mean, we have crocodile in the game, we have it on selection screen, it says buy it via store yet you can’t!
Did you really just delayed DLC for no good reason? Or we’re shafted permanently and won’t be able to by those animals.

 
Team_Hunky 29 September, 2012 @ 1:38 am   31

Yeah, I was wondering that about the DLC for extra animals also…. But my Fat Cat is kicking some butt anyway. It’s got 2 player co-op btw Prince. When is the extra animal DLC available?

 
Prem-aka-Prince 29 September, 2012 @ 10:45 am   32

2p local co-op, ok that makes sense, thanks.