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

Fred Dutton's Avatar + Posted by Fred Dutton on Sep 26, 2012 // SCEE Blog Manager

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This week saw 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.

PlayStation.Blog: 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.

PSB: 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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PSB: 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.

PSB: 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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PSB: 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.

PSB: 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 $14.99 price tag for the first two weeks on release, and get four DLC animals for free for one week.

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//Add Your Own

27 Comments

1

+ johnnyp70 on September 26th, 2012 at 7:09 am said:

I really wish there was a demo for this. Of all of this week’s goodies, this is one I have a hard time thinking about buying without trying. Even with my Plus discount.


2

+ Ryumoau on September 26th, 2012 at 7:10 am said:

Great interview. I’m enjoying the game, though i die alot. It does seem like it could use more polish though, but for $12 i can’t complain much. Still can’t imagine Japan eating this up at full price. :/


3

+ GeoDarky on September 26th, 2012 at 7:39 am said:

online co-op? if yes then it is sold for me


4

+ Ryumoau on September 26th, 2012 at 7:54 am said:

@3 no. only local co-op.


5

+ SnoochyBoochiez on September 26th, 2012 at 8:19 am said:

I’m getting this because I have 2 white pomeranians and just got a 2 more puppies which are peach/black. The dlc pets look just like em, so I wanna see how my pets would survive in post-apocalyptic Tokyo.


6

+ wtGp on September 26th, 2012 at 8:25 am said:

the Pomeranian’s are the ultimate beast


7

+ infamousXX87XX on September 26th, 2012 at 8:36 am said:

Purchased Tokyo Jungle yesterday and it’s very addicting. Since it sold pretty well I hope Sony Japan can make a sequel and build on this concept.


8

+ Figboy on September 26th, 2012 at 8:39 am said:

I couldn’t buy this yesterday, but I’ll definitely get it this weekend.

SCE, please understand that there is an audience in the US (and North America in general), for these types of games, even if it’s not 8 million people dying for these games.

If it’s feasible for the budget, please consider bringing more games like TJ over here. Many of us are dying for something new and refreshing, and will go for it. I can’t wait to snag this game!


9

+ xKOROSHIYAx on September 26th, 2012 at 9:32 am said:

I bought it yesterday, but I knew I would love it immediately after watching live streams of the Japanese version. This game is so unique and a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much for bringing it over to the US!

It reminds of why I loved the PS2 so much. It had a lot of unique, quirky Japanese games that were just so much fun to play (Mister Mosquito, Robot Alchemic Drive, etc.) Sadly, those types of games have been missing from the PS3 for the most part (with a few exceptions). Tokyo Jungle fills that void for me.

I hope to see more unique games like this in the future.


10

+ ElektroDragon on September 26th, 2012 at 9:35 am said:

I bought this game immediately based on the Preview video alone, and I’m glad I did because it is AMAZING! Just the kind of unique, creative, visionary experience that could only be a Playstation exclusive.


11

+ ElektroDragon on September 26th, 2012 at 9:38 am said:

Kataoka-san, also please remember there are a lof of Americans with Japanese or European mindset. Sometimes a combination of both! We’re not all beer guzzling football obsessed machine gun toting rednecks.


12

+ Neil on September 26th, 2012 at 9:44 am said:

I bought it this morning


13

+ Ryumoau on September 26th, 2012 at 10:09 am said:

@11 wow way to stereotype. jerks like you actually make me ashamed to like these type of games.


14

+ XFRod on September 26th, 2012 at 10:24 am said:

I import a lot of Japanese games. TJ is one I imported when it first came out. I have no regrets about paying a full retail (plus, import shipping) for it. I like physical copies over digital so, I’m good. Curious to see if the free DLC will work with my imported copy. Regardless, I’m glad so many in the States will get to experience TJ. It’s a fantastic game.

This is the second game I’ve imported and, later shocked that it got a NA release. Hakuna Matata (Afika), was the other one… Hmmm, another animal based game. Now, if they could only get Aquanauts’ Holiday release here.


15

+ cnada401 on September 26th, 2012 at 10:31 am said:

Thanks for bringing this game to the u.s. But im still waiting for the remote play patch that was supposed
to be included Day 1 .One of the main reasons i bought the game was for remote playability which at the
moment it Doesn’t have.I hear it’s coming soon but thats not good enough for me because soon to sony
means from here to next year.I HATE being lied to.If its not out today i want a refund and anytime i see a
sony employee, im punching em in the mouth for working for a company full of chit.


16

+ ENRICHOVEGA on September 26th, 2012 at 10:52 am said:

What were those two panda bears doing @ the 1:22 mark. LOL


17

+ ClinToN on September 26th, 2012 at 10:54 am said:

This game looks scary. Really, wild pomeranians. lol


18

+ plaztiksyke on September 26th, 2012 at 10:58 am said:

Really cool concept, but…

will there be a patch to make the graphics look decent? I’m not sure how this game got through Sony certification looking the way it does.

I really, really want to like this game. Please fix the graphics and all will be forgiven :)


19

+ AguilarX on September 26th, 2012 at 11:11 am said:

Nice avatar Fred! Picked this game up yesterday. Its so quirky and refreshing that I’m having a hard time to put it down!! Good recommendation from @yosp


20

+ Zoidzerg on September 26th, 2012 at 11:18 am said:

Like others have said, I really wanted to give this a try. For something as quirky as this I usually need a demo. The videos are not giving me much indication on if I would like it or not.

I am going to have to debate about taking the risk. Hell Yeah! demo sold the deal for me last night by the way.


21

+ MMAtt702 on September 26th, 2012 at 11:21 am said:

this game is awesome! never played anything like it before


22

+ PainOfSarrow on September 26th, 2012 at 11:37 am said:

Figboy

Your Spot on. i fully agree with everything you said. i got this game yesterday and ohhhhh mannn i did not want to go to sleep. was up past 3am just testing the DLC and doing my best to survive. love how the game can be switched up to stealth using a deer or such. its kind of like 2 games in 1 if you realy think about it. this game is soo addicting and like another said a breath of fresh air. i hate the reviews that say its to repetitive… i say repetitively FUN. best PSN game I played in a longggg time and a Bang For Your Buck with Huge Replay Value. would love for a part 2 already. most reviews gave it ah good score and it def deserves it. what a unique and non stop Entertaining Game.


23

+ KAPADO on September 26th, 2012 at 12:16 pm said:

I might bite the bullet and buy this game today , it just seems weird though , but us gamers always complain about lack of originality ,but when those games come out we hardly support them because they are different !
I went with flower, journey, heavy rain and now I’ll go with tokyo jungle…maybe


24

+ snakeman07 on September 26th, 2012 at 9:24 pm said:

@#18 Graphics don’t make the game. If you really liked it, you wouldn’t be complaining about them. I don’t even notice how bad they are because I’m actually playing the game.


25

+ OddyOh on September 27th, 2012 at 3:39 am said:

Watch the Giantbomb.com Quick Look…hilarious.


26

+ h2omasnah- on September 27th, 2012 at 12:54 pm said:

PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita with Cross Everything. What are you guys doing?


27

+ siriusbee on September 27th, 2012 at 1:28 pm said:

Game is great, but can you please fix it so that we don’t have to agree to the TOS *every single time* you start a game?


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