Attack of the Friday Monsters is a game about what it is like to be a kid. Specifically, it is about being a kid in Japan in the 70’s, but while the some of the context is strictly Japanese, the underlying feel rings true for anyone who remembers being 10 years old. It is a sadly unique experience. It is a narrative driven game that is completely free of violence, at least in regards to the player. Attack of the Friday Monsters shows the intermingling of reality and fantasy that happens in the imaginative mind of a child. It is the closest a game has come to replicating watching a Studio Ghibli movie.
It is a simple game. The player mostly just walks around town, talking to people and picking up glowing rocks. Occasionally, you play a rock/paper/scissors card game with other kids. There really isn’t more to it than that. IT might seem lacking, but the context and the adventure is absolutely worth the three hour adventure. It is a tiny slice of life game and it does all it needs to.
I don’t want to give it all away, because everyone should really play this game, but you play a Sohta, the new kid in town. The town he just moved to also happens to be where they film a TV show about giant monsters. The line between the truth and Sohta’s fantasies about monsters and aliens are constantly blurred. At the start of the game, Sota is given a fairly simple task. His parents run the cleaners and he is tasked with delivering some clean uniforms to the bakery. Like a small child, he is quickly distracted. He runs into some other local kids, who induct him into their gang; he meets the director of monster TV and a mystery man named Frank, who may or may not be real and may or may not be an alien.
That is how the game goes, with 26 episodes to complete. Sohta talks to people, learning more about their problems and his unique interpretation of the world. While the completely accepting Sohta, and his friends, fully believe in the monsters that come out every Friday, the adults of the town tend to indulge them in this fantasy. They warn kids to come home early, before the monsters come out. It is just the sort of lie that parents tell young kids, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
There is just something perfect about Attack of the Friday Monsters. It feels authentic, filled with the mischievousness and wonder of youth; always sweet but never saccharine. For a game that last less than 3 hours, it manages to have more weight than the vast majority of supposedly important games. It also does it all with no violence, that most overused crutch of video games. It is a charming and heartwarming examination of childhood. I actually first beat it right after it came out, but this is the kind of game I can see myself beating once every year or so. While the details are nothing like what I my childhood was actually like, it so perfectly captures the feelings of running around with my brothers on summer afternoons as a child. There is sadly nothing else quite like Attack of the Friday Monsters.