I’ve accepted my mission, I must infiltrate a heavily guarded building and take out a high-profile target. From the moment I step into a restricted area, all enemies will be on high alert. If I’m spotted, dozens of armed guards will swarm to my position. Instead of going in guns blazing, I sneak around walls and obstacles, quietly taking out guards with my machete. I’ve neutralized my target and it’s time to collect my reward. Scenes like this are the norm in Tokyo 42, an isometric open-world action game where you play as an unlikely hitman. What makes Tokyo 42 so unique is that it uses pint sized characters and takes place across Japanese rooftops in 2042. Watch your step!
As the game begins, armed police are closing in on your apartment, you soon find out you’re wanted for murder. Oddly enough, the only way to clear your good name is to immerse yourself into actual contract killings and become a hitman for hire. The cheeky tone of the story keeps Tokyo 42 from taking itself too seriously, a decision I firmly agree with. If I wanted to be overly meticulous I would be playing the Hitman series. Tokyo 42 is meant to be fun, and most of the time it is. I was always able to tell if a guard could see me and I never had to worry about them being alerted by dead bodies. A handful of weapons are at your disposal quickly such as: pistol, sniper rifle, bombs, machete and assault rifle. As you earn more money through main and side missions you can purchase stronger weapons. In addition to weapons you can also purchase new outfits and extra ammo. Tokyo 42 opts for fewer items at a higher price rather than hundreds of outfits or guns for cheap. I always had an eye on my cash and had to carefully choose between expensive guns of various types.
Tokyo 42 plays like a twin stick shooter, with the left stick assigned to player movement and the right stick used for aiming your weapon. Your character can run, crouch and even switch outfits immediately with one button press. What I found to be most frustrating was using most of the weapons aside from the machete. The sniper rifle tasks you with lining up your shot on a moving or stationary target, the problem is that it can be incredibly difficult to actually hit them. Throwing grenades accurately is also a chore due to the rainbow arc and sensitive aiming. In contrast, the enemy A.I. has incredible aim and whenever things break down into a firefight I found myself always dying. Thankfully there is no punishment for death and you will quickly respawn at the last vending machine you saved at. As I progressed through the story I made alliances with new characters and they always had plenty of tasks they needed help with.
Tokyo 42’s map is big, colorful and full of secrets and little nooks to explore. Pushing either controller bumper will rotate the camera around the player. This is easy enough to grasp but sometimes in the heat of a firefight I would rotate the wrong way or get my sense of direction confused while running and working the camera. If you’ve ever played the charming Wii U game, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker then you will understand the camera mechanics. One of my favorite features of Tokyo 42’s map is the fast travel system. Once you have walked near a warp pad you will activate it; it is now available to use as a fast travel station. To balance things out, you’re unable to warp out of any restricted areas with enemies. There are shops both small and large to check out along with a surprising variety of areas. There is no fall damage either which makes for some very fun jumps off buildings as you race to claim your mission reward.
The graphics of Tokyo 42 are what sets it apart from most games and will likely be the most polarizing feature for gamers. As you can see from the screenshots, the characters and buildings are quite small. I play my games on a small tv and sit close, so I didn’t have any problems. I can just picture gamers who sit 6 or more feet away from the screen having some trouble. Lining up sniper shots is difficult enough when you are up close, so please keep that in mind if it pertains to you. Levels load very quickly and there’s a surprising amount of dialog from your NPC allies. It never drags on and I was shocked that I always cared to read all they had to say. There is a multiplayer component to Tokyo 42, but I have yet to be able to find a match online.
Tokyo 42 earns a lot of praise from me with its fun concept and beautiful art style. Playing stealthily and taking out targets is the most enjoyable part for me. Other aspects such as sniping or bomb throwing could have been handled better. When I grow tire of stealth infiltration there are fun distractions in the form of courier or racing missions. I always cared about making money because of the achievements tied to owning all skins and weapons. Tokyo 42 does an amazing job of creating a big world that doesn’t feel overwhelming, it just needs a little more polish with the gunplay.