17 September 2022
Superhero sized challenge
The superheroes are coming to Tokyo, and they’re bringing their sidekicks along because there is a lot of work to be done. From incidents causing chaos across the city districts and villains, supervillains and a menace looking to cause all kinds of havoc and destruction, the heroes will have no time to waste. Even the most seasoned co-op player will find that Tokyo Sidekick does not pull its punches. Pandemic step aside! Arkham Horror, your Elder One has nothing on King Kaiju! But this may not be a good thing…
In Tokyo Sidekick, players will need to save the city by defeating a certain number of villains, supervillains and, finally, a menace before they get the better of them
or any other number of losing conditions apply, and as in many co-ops, there are several. Each round players will be sending their duo of a hero and sidekick (each has their own unique ability) all around the Pandemic-style map of Tokyo putting out all sorts of ‘fires’ by playing down the required number of energy cards. As the game progresses, heroes can upgrade their abilities and improve energy cards by building a stronger deck. They will also need to keep an eye out for the damage cards that can fill up their decks, limiting heroes’ actions during their turn. Players can also team up with each other to deal with more deadly villains by bringing their respective heroes and sidekicks together.
It looks like heroes have a lot of different tools in their toolbox to deal with all sorts of trouble – and they do! – but during the game it doesn’t feel like enough. If some co-op games start with a low sense of urgency that grows as the game progresses ramping up stakes and tension, Tokyo Sidekick starts at a ten. Any little misstep, miscoordination or even a case of bad luck makes itself immediately known. This means you must be doing everything right from the very start of the game. That includes picking the right team for the job out of the game’s roster of nine heroes and sidekicks each. Thankfully, the rulebook contains a guide on the best pairings that is a good starting point. Yet even with a perfect team, you will need to upgrade your abilities at the right time. Then ensure that your energy deck is well-tailored for actions you want to do. Even then, an unlucky draw of cards or a particularly treacherous villain ability can bring everything to a swift end.
Because the difficulty spike is so high, it feels like only a certain number of combos of heroes-sidekicks are viable to get the job done. This really hampers one of the strongest aspects of Tokyo Sidekick: the variety it offers through its roster of heroes and villains. Hero’s initial abilities add just enough of the interest to the gameplay, which otherwise revolves around using the same three types of energy cards each round. However, when you know that someone’s ability is not good enough at dealing with incidents and adversaries to have a chance of winning, you won’t be inclined to pick them. This is especially a shame because so much thought and care has been clearly put into giving those characters backstories and strong identities. There is even a comic book that comes along with the game! Although, Tokyo Sidekick could do with improving female to male skimpy superhero outfit ratio.
Maybe you like a hard challenge and a game that keeps you on the edge of your seat a hundred percent of the time. Yet even then, the challenge needs to feel satisfying. Tokyo Sidekick is not challenging because it does something new, instead it follows the blueprint of many co-ops and deck builders before it but tightens its every screw to make sure that players have no wiggle room for mistakes.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Everyone loves a challenging co-op game, but Tokyo Sidekick has taken that too much to heart, letting its toughness outshine the most exciting part of the game: its heroes.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED PANDEMIC
Hoping around the world curing deadly diseases is a good starting point to the next adventure: facing supervillains that roam Tokyo districts.
Designer: Yusuke Emi
Publisher: Japanime Games
Time: 45-60 minutes
Looking for more?
This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
If you want to read more about one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year, check out our interview with Cole Wehrle on ARCS! A new game from the designer of Root and Oath, and we've got all you need to know.To infinity and beyond
Join us in person
We can't wait for Tabletop Gaming Live 2022! An epic weekend in Manchester full of board games, card games, roleplaying games, wargames and more, with amazing exhibitors, great games, and an opportunity to game together in person.See you there!
Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories – including the above Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, with a great discount! Head over to find your new favourite game.Visit the Game Store
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products