I’ll be the one to level this report, since it sounds like I’m the only one here who’s actually interested in this bizarre little PSN number. Can it possibly live up to the hype?

So, yeah, obviously going into TJ you want to keep your expectations in line with what ten bucks is going to get you on PSN. It’s not Assassin’s Creed III here. You’re buying character, not necessarily depth and polish.

That said…

If novelty is the rarest commodity in gaming in 2012, Tokyo Jungle has it in spades. You begin the game (after a brief tutorial) with the ability to begin “survival mode” with one of two characters: A pomeranian (predator) and sika deer (prey). Carnivores obviously survive by hunting and killing other animals, herbivores survive by eating plants, which you can find randomly lying around.

TJ is roguelike in a lot of its sensibilities. You begin the (survival mode) game at age zero, and are immediately tasked with 4 randomly generated objectives like “find a mate” or “make 2 perfect stealth kills”. Every ten “years” of gametime (1 year equals one minute) your creature gets another set of four objectives to fulfill, with the catch being that animals only live into old age for 15 years. Extend your genetic line or die. Death is permanent, but you can live on through your children. Wait, what?

My first playthrough my pomeranian was heavy on the exploration, but I ended up starving to death out in the wilderness. Then I lived for 2 generations before eating some rotten cats who were full of disease and died. Then I got fleas, but it’s OK since I picked up random pet shampoo that removes the “fleas” condition. Also a delightful knitted cap. At some point I tried to bite a cow and was kicked to death.

Unlocked some “story mode”. Played a bit of the pomeranian specific “TOY DOG NO MORE!” plotline. Escaped my old sheltered life as an apartment dog, found a mate, holed up in an apartment block and had puppies. Sent them out to kill the neighborhood cat boss and dragged his carcass back to the apartment so that my family of pomeranian pups could feed and grow strong.

Spent some time playing as a sika deer. Swift movement, double jumps. Fast escape, but I stumbled on a hyena accidentally during the night and was slain instantly by having my throat ripped out. Restart. Should have used the herbivore specific “throw family member literally to the wolves” command to sacrifice one of my brood to create an escape vector. Next time.

My efforts as a pomeranian had unlocked the chick by this point in time. Floated around, experienced life as a slow moving defenseless mcnugget. Unlocked some more diaries explaining the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the human race. Slept the night away in a nest, woke up to discover I’d matured into a white rooster. Discovered that chickens (with their swift movement, flapping jumps and kicky feet) are totally badass as a playable character. Tried to find a mate, was slain and eaten by a pig instead. Restart.

So… yeah. Basically it’s nutty as hell. I don’t know how long this will keep my interest, but for the moment Tokyo Jungle is a strange and unknown flavor I’ll definitely keep exploring.