Review: Tokyo Tattoo Girls | PS Vita (5/10)

Platform: PS VitaGenre: Strategy GameDeveloper: Sushi Typhoon Games
Publisher: NIS America NIS America
Release Date: November 14, 2017 November 17, 2017
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File size:779 MB (Version 1.00)
Compatible:PS Vita
Review by 2 Old 4 Gaming

When I first saw the trailer for Tokyo Tattoo Girls and read the press release, I didn’t really know what kind of game this would be. The press release talked about a disaster in Tokyo and that you would need to battle armies run by 23 powerful girls in the 23 districts of Tokyo. It also talked about drawing tattoos on girls to give them new powers.

I assumed it would be an action game kind of like Drive Girls and maybe with some tattoo mini game along the lines of the mini-games in Criminal Girls 2. I was completely wrong. Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a strategy game more like the board game Risk and despite being a bit bare bones and unpolished I found it surprisingly addictive, although I will likely be in the minority with that opinion.


Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

As I mentioned the story of the game starts off with Tokyo recovering from a disaster. After the disaster mystical tattoos have appeared on some girls that have given them special powers. 23 of these girls band together to control Tokyo with their armies. You are a tattoo master and you choose one of 6 girls to help them take over Tokyo. Each of the girls have motivations for restoring Tokyo whether its personal gain, to rebuild the city or to feed their family. Their personalities get fleshed out during discussions and battles with the 23 syndicate leaders, which aren’t really battles – more on that later.

The story doesn’t develop all that much and neither do the characters. When you do meet the Syndicate leaders, some seemed like nice people so it kind of made me question why we were trying to take Tokyo from them. The conversations with the syndicate leaders vary depending on which girl you chose. Some conversations were quite random at times and occasionally they could be funny, but really this isn’t a game for people looking for a deep, interesting story.


Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

The gameplay, as I mentioned, reminds me of the board game Risk. Your gangs are accumulating protection cash all the time and you select a district and use the cash to buy an action. That action could be to grow your army, to reduce the chance enemies are alerted to your presence or to increase the amount of money you earn. Each action has a cool down so even if you have the money, you can’t just spam the actions to grow your army. If the enemy detects you and goes on alert, you could face a turf war, where your army fights theirs, or your honour could decrease.

Your honour is one of the main stats to watch out for. When that hits zero its game over. When you eliminate all the enemies in a district, your girl has a “battle” with the district leader. Its called a battle but there’s no real battling gameplay. You have a discussion and select one of three dialogue choices. There is a short battle cut scene and every time this happened I won and that district joined my army. The encounters felt underwhelming since it was just a conversation and there was never a risk of me losing. You can add tattoos to your girl to boost her abilities and your chances of claiming a district, but I didn’t feel much impact on the game by buying the tattoos.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

A playthrough is complete when you claim all of Tokyo. The first time I finished the game on easy it took me around 1 and a half hours and my first time on medium difficulty took around 3 hours. Once I knew the mechanics well, I could finish a medium play through in about an hour to an hour and a half. The longevity of the game comes from playing and beating the game with each of the 6 girl and on every difficulty.

Another problem with the game is the lack of explanation. The tutorial is very brief and doesn’t do a great job of explaining the systems. I recommend just playing the game on easy to figure it out. My first playthrough lasted 30 minutes before I lost all my honour and it was game over. The game just clicked on my second play through and once the systems made sense to me it became much more fun.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

There is zero action in the game. The whole gameplay revolves around using your cash to select an action at each district. You need to balance your cash, honour, the cool down times and the alerted districts to try and claim districts with minimal alerts to the enemy and minimal loss of honour. There is a lot going on at any time and really the whole game comes down to keeping track of multiple stats and trying to make the best decision based on the information.

Fortunately you can pause time whenever you want and collect cash or take an action. On my first playthrough I lost because I didn’t realise I could pause time and I was trying to juggle all the events at once. When you can pause time, the game loses all urgency and franticness and becomes more tactical. I found it quite addictive and fun even though its really just a numbers management game.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

The discussions with the syndicate leaders had three dialogue choices. Picking the “correct” one gave you a boost back to honour but the choices were quite random at times. You only have around 10 sentences of conversation with the syndicate leader to get to know them before picking your option and often all three seemed like bad choices based on the leader’s personality. It was a bit random how these encounters worked.

I feel like there should be a more fleshed out mini game here rather than pick one of three dialogue choices. I didn’t lose a battle with them once, even when I picked the worst option. It feels like a missed opportunity to give more flesh to the game. Also, from a story perspective, the disaster in Tokyo wasn’t reflected in many of the conversation art with the syndicate bosses. Some of the environments seemed nice and peaceful which didn’t mesh with some of the conversations that talked about the city being destroyed and people starving.


Tokyo Tattoo Girls PS Vita

The cartoony manga art of the girls was detailed and colourful although it seemed unnecessary for them to be wearing the exposing clothing, but that’s not out of the ordinary for Japanese games. The main game screen with the map of Tokyo won’t win any art awards but given this is a game about strategy and resource management, the art didn’t need to be much else.

Music & Sound

The music and sound effects did not fit the game at all. During the map gameplay the music was slow and gave no excitement to the game. Similarly for the encounters with syndicate bosses the music felt out of place and would just chop off at the end of the scene. There is Japanese audio which seemed fine, but overall from a sound perspective, the game is lacking.


Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a game with a lot lacking and many players will not enjoy it all. Once you understand the game’s mechanics, it can become quite addictive trying to steal territory, amass cash and grow your army. Trying to finish it with all the girls and with all the difficulty settings will add to the longevity of the game and each playthrough can be different depending on which district you choose to attack first and which tattoos you choose to upgrade. However it may also get quite repetitive and may not be able to hold the attention of players for more than a few playthroughs.

Enjoying the game will come down to whether you like stat management games, but the lack of variety and polish makes this a difficult game to recommend for a full price retail release. The whole game feels like it should be a mini game to a bigger game. If that was the case then it would be considered an excellent distraction but as a full game it’s quite hard to justify a retail price tag.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls Video Review:


The review was written and provided by 2 Old 4 Gaming. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.

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