After Tokyo suffers greatly from an unprecedented calamity, Japan decides to give up on Tokyo entirely and barricades it off from the outside world. Tattoos have been appearing on some of the girl’s who survived though, and with them they gain supernatural powers. 23 of them then decided to reform their own government, known as the Union of the 23 Wards of Tokyo, where each presides over their own ward and have agreed not to fight each other so that they can maintain peace.
Six girls don’t want to remain in Tokyo for the rest of their lives though, and decide to recruit others who feel the same way so that they might overthrow the 23 wards. You play as a tattoo artist who can bestow powerful tattoos to these girls, and you work together to gain influence and honour, and to convince other ward leaders that what they’re currently doing isn’t good for the people of Tokyo.
What you see in the picture above is what you’ll mostly be seeing for the entire game. Each ward can be selected and you’ll have a variety of options to choose from including recruiting punks or clanswomen, to lower the suspicion in an area to delay a battle, and to delay turf wars for a certain amount of days, and more. You can also choose to regain honour, and if your honour gauge runs out then, well, it’s game over. Each of the six girls has different skills to choose from, and Tokyo Tattoo Girls heavily lends itself to replayability.
Campaigns don’t generally last too long, but I found myself lasting longer with each attempt to retake all 23 wards. Much of the game’s strategy comes down to how you spend the money you earn, and if you want to put that into using your abilities on the various wards or by giving your chosen girl various tattoos.
These tattoos allow you to take wards easier and to recruit more people, and arguably buying tattoos is the most important thing you can do with your money. Keeping an eye on your honour gauge and seeing which wards look likely to break out into battle (and these are colour coded with green meaning they’re under your control, red means that a turf war could break out at any moment, and yellow are ones you’ve yet to take control of). It can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it then it’s rather hard to put down. That said, it does feel a little light on content outside of this and some mini-games.
Tokyo Tattoo Girls has lovely character artwork with each girl having a unique theme, and the map has wonderful Japanese art that you’d expect to see on fancy bowls and what not. Whilst there might not be a whole lot of variety in the game past each girl, its simplicity is nice and it’s easy to come to grips with despite it’s relative complexity.
There’s no English dub here but the Japanese voice-over is lively, with energetic performances that fit the characters colourful outfits and personalities. The soundtrack wasn’t quite as engaging for me, but it provides pleasant enough music for your ward-taking adventure.
Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a great fit for Vita considering how brief each campaign is, although if you find that yours is lasting pretty long then you can save and return to it another day — you can only have one campaign going at a time, though. If you’re a fan of strategy and anime girls then you’ll likely find a lot of enjoyment in Tokyo Tattoo Girls, but it’s certainly not a game for everybody.
Patience and failures will go a long way in having a successful campaign, but you’ll have to work for it. Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a rewarding game and a unique experience on the Vita, and it’s worth checking out if it sounds at all interesting to you.