If you've ever sat around thinking "I wish "Zuma" was weirder," well Nintendo sure has a surprise for you. Building on the core mechanics of the action/puzzle games like "Magnetica" and the aforementioned "Zuma", "Tokyo Crash Mobs" takes clearing out a snaking line of oncoming colors to a whole new level. Developed by the Mitchell Corporation, this new take on the advancing color, action-puzzle genre comes from the developer that came up with the original concept way back in 1998 with "Puzz Loop."
The fundamentals of "Tokyo Crash Mobs" are in line with their predecessors, especially since their developer has some experience with the "Tetris" meets "Puyo Pop" (or "Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move" depending on you preference) ball clearing games. The player targets a colored item, usually a ball, at a series similar items as they advance towards a predetermined end point. If the player can match three or more of a certain color then that group will be cleared out, impeding the progress of the line, and buying the player some much needed time. The games have traditionally been won by clearing out the entire line before any one piece of the chain reaches the end. That's the gist of "Tokyo Crash Mobs," except in this game the balls are substituted with people, both as targets and as projectiles. Oh, and there's occasionally ninjas... and UFOs.
Even with all that craziness "Tokyo Crash Mobs" still manages to get weirder. The game's story mode follows two girls, Grace and Savannah, as they use their throwing and rolling skills respectively, to get to the front of the lines at some of Japan's most happening clubs. Each day the girls have a different party to get into, which means that they have a different group of scensters to bypass for every day of the week. Each of their missions are bookended with some incredible full motion videos that feature real life actresses, both of whom are prominently featured throughout all aspects of the game, portraying the rolls of Grace and Savannah in the strangest of manners. The game has a decidedly over-the-top Japanese flavor to it, and may be a bit too "wacky" for gamers just looking for a fun puzzle game.
While the "plot" and FMVs don’t appear to have any kind of coherent structure, that doesn’t effect the gameplay, which is consistently fun, and actually quite challenging. Using the bottom screen to aim your human projectiles can be a bit imprecise at times, but as you progress through the game it becomes second nature. If you are adept at "Zuma" or "Magnetica," "Tokyo Crash Mobs" should be easy to pick up and play, but there some additional features like power ups and motion-controlled, ninja-based levels that make this game feel fresh.
"Tokyo Crash Mobs" is a game that really needs to be played in order to fully appreciate how off the wall it is. There is a lot going on at all times in this game, and you really need to see it to believe it. The gameplay itself builds slightly on its predecessors, so you won't feel like you're just playing more "Magnetica" levels, and, besides, TCM feels like an entirely different experience. While some players might get frustrated with some of the controls, especially the seemingly random motion controlled levels, if you can endure, you'll be rewarded with one of the strangest games Nintendo has published in a long time.