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Trying to make sense of Tokyo Crash Mobs


After spending some time with Tokyo Crash Mobs on the 3DS, I feel there are three equally appropriate descriptions one could use for this game.

You could call Tokyo Crash Mobs a color-matching game about friends Savannah and Grace, both of whom hate lines and want to buy stuff at stores because they don't know what the internet is.

Or you could call it Zuma because it's a lot like Zuma – developed by Mitchell, it's based on Puzzloop, an arcade series that Zuma is openly inspired by.

Finally, you could call Tokyo Crash Mobs the last bastion of FMV in video games, a hall of nostalgic camp lifted up by non-sensical cutscenes of digitized sprites of women floating in space and trying to sneak kisses from other, unconscious digitized sprites of women. You could call Tokyo Crash Mobs a game filled with odd phrases that I kind of think may be Engrish but then the localization team decided to leave them in so I don't know what to think – hey, wait, what was I saying again?

Actually, now that I've had some time to reflect, the third description is definitely the way to go.

Gallery: Tokyo Crash Mobs | 10 Photos

At its heart, Tokyo Crash Mobs is actually a pretty universally understood proposition – just match colors. The two main protagonists line up at various places each day and find that they're far too impatient to actually wait their turn, so they just throw people. It's not how I solve my problems, but then I don't live in a video game.

Matching up three people with the same outfit will erase them from existence. The lines themselves get pretty complicated, in both speed and pattern. People aren't going to just sit there and wait to be erased, obviously; sometimes pairing up enough people with the same outfit is more a twitchy affair when the line is moving rapidly, opposed to the methodical murder of carefully selecting your target in a stationary line.

The gameplay itself felt great, even if it feels overly familiar at times. Tokyo Crash Mobs was both a challenge to my reflexes and mental agility in the little time I had to play it. But I found the most endearing part of Tokyo Crash Mobs to be that this is a crazy game. Every time there's a loading screen, one of the girls moves her arm in a spinning motion while "Delusion now..." flashes on the screen. Why?

And the cutscenes: I really can't do them justice. One scene shows an unconscious girl laying on her back while the other one leans in, slowly and seductively. She's totally going to kiss the sleeping one, right? But why would she do that?!

One failure screen launched a woman in space for some unknown reason, but my puzzlement was soon replaced with folly when I saw her apathetic gestures and demeanor against the very real-looking green-screened depiction of deep space behind her. It all felt like something Tim & Eric might do.

I'm not sure if Tokyo Crash Mobs is a case of rubber-stamping localization or somebody at Nintendo recognizing that this thing was the most hilarious thing on its own and decided to just push it through. Whatever it is, I'm glad I got to experience a small part of it, even if I left with more questions than I had going in.

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