Little fanfare was made around Attack of the Friday Monsters' initial release. It's not a surprise considering most Nintendo fans were busy celebrating the long-awaited virtual console release of EarthBound. Thanks to Nintendo's Indie Week, Attack of the Friday Monsters has been brought back to the forefront of the 3DS' eShop. It's a title that left a huge impression on me with its child-like innocence and heart-warming characters and dialog.
If you have not heard of Attack of the Friday Monsters yet, it's hardly your fault. There was a lone trailer for the English release, and what is shown offers little insight into what the experience offers. The trailer features a young boy doing a lot of walking around as giant monsters fight in the background. It's accurate, but lacks context.
Once you start a new game, everything becomes clearer as the most charming opening credits scene ever created plays. The 10-year-old protagonist, Sohta, sings about himself, his father's job as a dry cleaner, his mother's love of cooking, and the Japanese town Fuji no Hana, which he recently moved to.
Opening on a Friday morning during the summer of 1971, Sohta is sent out by his family to deliver some laundry to a nearby neighbor. Despite the short trip, he quickly becomes side-tracked into investigating a strange phenomenon: On Friday, giant monsters appear on the outskirts of town.
Finding out the mystery behind the monsters is the driving force to move Sohta from location to location, but getting a glimpse into the life of the townsfolk shows the true quality and love in the writing. The kids cast fake spells on each other, to which the victim of voluntarily falls to the ground. They gossip and make assumptions about monsters, adults and other kids, exaggerating as children often do. The real stories fall within passing dialog of the adults, who often seem somewhat distant as Sohta is oblivious or confused by their troubles.
Fully exploring Fuji no Hana doesn't take long, but characters who populate the it frequently move, often triggering a new set of dialog to enjoy. It's essentially a picture book you can explore. Beautiful hand-drawn scenes set the backdrop. On the edge of the town flat green farm lands stretch across the distance and where it meets the base of mountains, as factories from the next town over pump black smoke into the blue sky. All of this is set to ambient bird and cicada songs mixed with the occasional sound of distant passing trains.
Within the town are small and often wooden houses, which most families both live and run their businesses out of. A peppy TV announcer and wind chimes can be heard from the households as Sohta runs by open doors. Toward the north, a railroad crossing warning signal rings endlessly as trains pass and conductors announce the stop in a monotone voice. This impeccable attention to detail and atmosphere completes Attack of the Friday Monsters as a package.
The majority of us haven't grown up in a 1970s Japan, including myself, but the title tickles the player's childhood nostalgia either way, creating a warm feel-good experience. It may not have any sort of real active challenge as a traditional game does, however it's a world that I do believe many more can fall in love with.