Every once in a while I wind up with a game that I just have no explanation for when someone spots it in my library and asks what it is. And I'm all for having some oddball titles but when it comes to Tokyo Crash Mobs, I just don't know what to say, I really don't. Taking the match-three puzzler gameplay and combining it with graphics that take me back to the 3DO era is sure to confound anyone checking out screenshots. The story mode (if you can call it that) makes things even weirder, featuring loading screens that say 'Delusion Now,' people in mono-colored suits with smooth moves looking for buttons to push that sends one of the two game's two heroines hurtling through space. Did that make any sense? It didn't when I was playing the game, and try as I might I couldn't wrap my head around it by the conclusion of the ever confusing story mode. Even now I'm looking at the game and the only question in my head is, "What are you Tokyo Crash Mobs?! What are you?!"
The whole visual aesthetic behind Tokyo Crash Mobs looks like the development team at MITCHELL wanted to get the most use out of some 3D cameras they acquired. They captured a bunch of B-roll footage to use for the game, most of it making the littlest of sense, and just crammed it in there: shots of the underside of Tokyo's railway system, the famous Tokyo Tower, and some other locations like schools and parks. The entirety of the game looks something like those old FMV titles of the Sega CD and 3DO era with digitized pictures of the subjects who might just be trapped in this game and want to figure a way out. The light jazzy soundtrack seems to fit if only because it seems like anything could be slotted in here. The tunes get a little repetitive across the three different types of stages, although it thankfully never becomes overbearing or annoying. The presentation is rather simplistic, menus depicting our heroines Savannah and Grace pointing and gesturing toward the options selected, loading screens featuring them, and movies depicting their plight as they deal with insufferable scenesters. When it comes to dealing with these people who don't seem to know much about earth tones, Savannah and Grace know how to get the ball rolling.
Anyone who has played games like Zuma and its numerous clones will be right at home in Tokyo Crash Mobs. Instead of matching balls, the players must match people called "scenesters" who wear matching clothing of green, red, yellow, or blue, and when three of the same color are lined up in to a "clique" they will disappear, and close the gap between them and subsequently form more cliques if you've got the colors lined up correctly. When using Grace players must toss matching scenesters into their respective places in line, eliminating them and getting her that much closer to the door of the club she's trying to get to. Be one of the first ten in line, or eliminate the line altogether and that's the end of the stage. Savannah plays a lot closer to the Zuma formula, she rolls scenesters into a line that is marching ever closer to a button that will hurtle her in to the depths of space. I guess this would be troubling for anyone, but Savannah seems to use artistry to convey her plight, scribbling violently in one of the videos that accompanies her stages. Stages are referenced as days of the week with Sundays being special days in which the girls team up to fight ninjas. It's as silly as it sounds, and is actually one of the more enjoyable stages in the game, opting to use motion controls instead of stylus controls to eliminate color-coded ninjas.
Considering the under eight dollar price point there isn't much to the game. The Story mode features 21 stages of varying difficulty, some of which can be downright hard during the later stages. There are challenge modes that offer up "Endless" gameplay, provided you can hang with the ever increasing difficulty. And there's a weird movie player that shows sequencing of footage from the game, which you can use to confuse your friends even further after they ask why you spent money on this in the first place. That's not to say that Tokyo Crash Mobs is a bad game, if anything it's a confounding game. It's confounding that Nintendo will release things like Tokyo Crash Mobs when so many other titles that fans pine for are left by the wayside.
Tokyo Crash Mobs is meant to satisfy a very specific itch, and it does a pretty decent job of it. There's not much to the game outside of the core experience, but the challenge modes can certainly eat up a lot of time once the main campaign is completed. If you've never given Zuma a try, you could certainly give Tokyo Crash Mobs a shot, and it'll certainly give you an extra dose of oddity, but for everyone else out there, this might be a lost cause.