The game may have originally launched in Japan back this December, but when I first obtained my Japanese Nintendo 3DS two months later it was the first (and currently only) game that I downloaded. I had been meaning to review the game for a while now but it kept on getting pushed back due to the need to review newer western releases, but with the TV series in which it is based on getting its US network première tonight and discussions about hopes for a localisation, now seems like a better time than never to let you all know my thoughts on Spike Chunsoft’s Nintendo 3DS game Attack On Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind.
When the anime series based on Hajime Isayama’s original manga aired in Japan last year, I found myself hooked to the point where a new episode being released became the highlight of my week. The series was brilliant; featuring some of the highest quality animation of its season and a story that was gripping, thrilling and deliciously dark and I have no reservations in naming it one of the biggest anime series’ of the decade. When a Nintendo 3DS game was announced though, I was both excited and cautious but admittedly, more of the latter.
For those of you who are unaware, the premise of Attack On Titan is that for over one hundred years the last bastion of humanity has been living in area surrounded by a 50 foot wall, their last line of defence against the “Titans” – enormous humanoid creatures whose sole purpose seems to be to devour humans. However, one day, a 60-foot “Colossal Titan” breaks through one of the walls, letting in a flood of other titans. After witnessing his mother being eaten by a Titan, the young Eren Yeager enlists in the “Survey Corps”, a military division focused on journeying outside of the safety of the walls to find out more about the Titans and ultimately, how to defeat them.
The story of the game follows the events of the first season of the anime from the moment the series protagonists Eren, Mikasa and Armin join the Survery Corps up until the defeat of the Female Titan. The story plays out through three “routes” which dictate which character you control and whose view point you see events from. In the main game, you can choose to play as either of the three main characters I mentioned earlier. What is confusing though, is that while most games that go with the route approach will have you playing with your chosen character until the end of the narrative, in Attack On Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind, it constantly jumps between them with only a slight indication of which story to play next if it does jump to another character. So if you want to go through the game one character at a time, the order of events will end up….very scrambled, to say the least.The actual story is told through a mixture of stills from the anime that are accompanied with text and actual clips from the series before throwing you into a mission, which tend to have similar goals of either defeating as many titans as you can, a particular titan or defending a certain position within a stated time frame (Except the first mission which basically has you role around to avoid the Colossal Titan’s strikes). It is rather short though, taking me only around six hours to complete.
Missions will take place in a 3D area that relies in you to use your Three-Dimensional Maneuver Gear to get around (it is possible to simply walk, but you won’t last long!). I was really worried about how the Nintendo 3DS would be able to portray the glorious aerial dynamics of the equipment in use but fortunately, it does that really well. Players use the R button to send out an anchor hook, which automatically pulls you towards your destination and by using a combination of the circle pad to move and the R button you can easily traverse roof tops and forests. In order to strike a titan, you have to move yourself around it (and preferably target it with the “Y” button) before pressing “L” to pull yourself in and strike at just the right time by pressing “X” when the on-screen prompt tells you to, in order to land a successful hit on the back of a titan’s neck. While hitting a titan in another area can stun them, just like in the series, you can only kill them by hitting them on the nape of their neck. This probably sounds really complicated but in actuality, is incredibly simple once you’ve managed to grasp the basics of it.
I do love the level of accuracy this game takes in portraying the atmosphere of Attack On Titan with not only the dynamics of the Three-Dimensional-Maneuver Gear, but also your blades dulling over time and your gas running out, leaving you running around a level with no way to defend yourself against the titans. The appearance of the titans themselves match the series very well (with there being over 40 unique models); it truly makes you feel like a part of the game when you find yourself in a titan’s grip slowly being moved towards their mouth.
Outside of the main Story Mode, is World Mode, where you are able to make your own customisable character out of a pool of different options that even includes the face of Keith Shadis and you can play with other players via local wireless, or with NPCs and people you’ve StreetPassed with to complete missions. In this mode, you can also level up your characters and their attributes. Unfortunately, as I’m the only person I know with a Japanese 3DS in my local area, let alone a copy of the game, I’ve seldom had a chance to use this feature to its full advantage (however, I have been able to get StreetPass hits thanks to the StreetPass Relay feature).
I do have two complaints though – the first is the game’s DLC. Players have the option to download story modes focused on the fan favourite characters Sasha and Levi, which isn’t a problem at all. What is though, is that the file sizes of each are only two blocks each. This makes me wonder if this content is actually already in the game and the DLC is merely a “key” to unlock it. If memory serves me correctly, the DLC was only supposed to be offered for free for a limited time before coming paid, but I have yet to see any indication of them being placed behind a Pay Wall Maria, so that certainly does soften the blow. The second complaint is that when you do get to control a Titan, the controls are incredibly awkward, sluggish and all in all, a bit naff.
To finish off on a good note, I do like how the game opens up with the iconic first opening theme “Guren no Yumiya” and the World Mode features the second opening theme “Jiyū no Tsubasa”, both by Linked Horizon (of Bravely Default fame), which can be rewatched whenever you want along with the clips from the series shown in this game.
Being on the Nintendo 3DS, the game will have its technical limitations including smaller areas and environments that don’t have much detail and while it may not be a game that will appear in peoples’ Top 10 lists, it’s still a fun game with gameplay that does the franchise justice.