If you like a little superhero action in your board games, then Japanime Games has the perfect title for your next gaming get-together. That would be their newest title Tokyo Sidekick, which has players controlling their own dynamic duo of heroes as they seek to protect the city from villains, supervillains, and Kaiju-style menaces, and the game is live on Kickstarter right now! Tokyo Sidekick is targeting a $50,000 goal, and those who give it a chance will find a massive city to explore and defend and a host of cool abilities to help them defend it against their powerful opponents. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Japanime Games' Marketing and Convention Coordinator Jackson Wood all about the game, including how it plays, details on the hero and sidekick mechanics, and what franchise would make for a dream crossover.
First though we wanted to know if players can control their hero and their sidekicks in the same turn, and what the biggest differences between heroes and sidekicks happen to be.
"Players do control their characters on their turn," Wood said. "Tokyo Sidekick is built around a deck-building mechanic where your deck consists of Energy of different types to power your moves for both your Hero and your Sidekick. It gets interesting because you don't have to discard your hand at the end of your turn, so you can keep cards you want to carry over into the next turn to fuel those bigger attacks if necessary. However, there are ways to 'Team-up' with other players when it isn't your turn if your characters are in the same location as theirs."
"As for differences, some key differences are that Heroes are the focus in that they can unlock other powers and do extra damage based on their energy types," Wood said. "Additionally, Sidekicks can use gear given to them by the heroes to do other special effects depending on what that gear is."
There are a host of heroes and sidekicks to choose from, and the options open up considerably since any of them can be paired together for a unique crimefighting team.
"You absolutely can mix and match! The big joy is that you can play any Hero/Sidekick combination that you want," Wood said. "Two 'canonical' pairings would be Melty Sweet and Smoothie as well as Samuraiman and Alpha Kid. Samuraiman and Alpha Kid are your classic 'Batman and Robin' kind of duo. Neither one has any special, unnatural powers (that we know of) and are ready to throw down with the best of them. Samuraiman is focused on Power cards, but can utilize all energy cards to deliver devastating attacks. He's very easy to learn, but has a lot of variability while Alpha Kid is always able to show up to help, getting you those sweet team bonuses for free which helps save you on resources."
"Melty Sweet, on the other hand, is all about doing actions on other player's turns, treating them as if they were her own turn," Wood said. "This is especially good with Smoothie Bear who gets you extra card draws if you have less than 3 cards and can attack spaces one extra space away which can be really helpful with how hyperactive Melty Sweet can be."
You'll need to utilize all of those unique traits and special abilities to defeat the villains before they overrun the city, and if you can master the art of positioning, you'll already be ahead of the game.
"The sweet spot is definitely in the 3-4 player range," Wood said. "Every play level is tons of fun, but changes the level of complexity due to how many actions you may be able to do versus how many people can actively contain challenges on the board. A lot of how you can work with other players and helps them depends on positioning. You can get bonuses and collaborate, even if it isn't your turn if your characters are in the same locations as other player's characters. Depending on the character, like Melty Sweet mentioned before, you can even work simultaneously during their turn in some ways depending on what your special abilities are."
Now, even if you are able to master team dynamics, the game is still going to pose a challenge, as the game is built around the idea of a hero's journey, and that means falling a bit before gaining the upper hand.
"The Team's approach to difficulty and learning curve was, from what I was told, somewhat rooted in the theme as well. It takes a while for heroes to be able to take on the toughest of foes, but you always have to step up and keep getting back up," Wood said. "With that, like many cooperative games, the difficulty is against you. You aren't working against the difficulty inherent to those you play with, but a cold, uncaring program of a game that wants nothing more than to grind you to dust and rule Tokyo for its own ends. But you're the hope! Even if it seems overwhelming, there's always a chance! You are Heroes after all!"
"Jokes aside, the difficulty is honestly quite reasonably balanced in our opinion," Wood said. "Sometimes you'll get an unfortunate string of events that just make you have to choose less than ideal outcomes because others are worse, but you'll always have an opportunity to come through and shine. It's just a matter of how well you do it and so there is always a bit of a learning curve like when Spider-Man had to take a leap of faith before swinging around Brooklyn."
Sounds pretty cool right? We think so too, so Wood walked us through how a turn in the game typically works.
"Absolutely, though once a game begins every turn for every player will be different depending on what they prioritize," Wood said. "The key feature is that your hand will consist of Energy cards of 3 types. There's Power, Concentration, and Speed. Each character focuses on one of these to gain extra benefits, but all 3 are used by all characters. From there, your turn is broken down into 3 phases: Standby Phase, Action Phase, and End Phase. The Standby Phase is for activating any abilities that happen during that phase. The Action Phase is the bulk of a player's turn where you'll be able to perform from the list of 7 actions or use the skills/abilities on your characters. You'll be able to move, draw extra cards, discard cards, resolve incidents based on their requirements, make basic attacks, assemble your heroes and sidekicks, or upgrade your characters by unlocking new abilities or gaining stronger energy cards. Then you'll get to the End Phase where you'll put new incidents out, take your damage based on what's left on the board, draw cards back up (based on what you kept, didn't use, etc), then see what Crime Time has in store which has a whole lot of stuff to do with villains."
So we've learned about the heroes, but you can't have good guys without bad guys, and Tokyo Sidekick has some massive enemies known as Menaces as well as supervillains and regular villains that the heroes will need to contend with. Comic fans will definitely recognize some of the inspiration for these characters, including a DC favorite.
"What are heroes without interesting foils in their Rogue's Galleries? The biggest difference is going to be difficulty across the board and the order in which they arrive," Wood said. "Typically, villains have less defense and less health than Supervillains or Menaces. Secondly, any effects they may have tend to be less extreme. In focusing on 3 specific characters, one from each tier, we've got Jinx Cat as a regular Villain. I love all of the parallels that can be drawn from Superheroes created anywhere in the world and Jinx Cat is very 'Catwoman' from Batman even to the point that when you beat her you can recruit her as a 3rd character to help fight back!"
"For the next step up, I love Metal Impulse," Wood said. "If you've got anything like a sentient robot, then I will be all about it. But Metal Impulse moves around the board quickly unless they've been sufficiently damaged which is just a nice, extra flavorful bit in addition to being harder. Finally, for Menaces, I am going to stick with King Kaiju. One, because we've already shown King Kaiju off and I don't want to spoil too much more about the other 2 Menaces as King Kaiju is the easiest of the 3. But what's not to love about a dope Godzilla analog? Additionally, King Kaiju effectively sets a timer for defeat. They move to 6 different locations and if you don't beat them by then, then you lose. So it's a nice 'did we get prepared enough for this moment?' kind of boss fight which I really enjoy."
If Tokyo Sidekick ends up grabbing your interest, you're in luck, because there are already expansions made for the game's original Japanese version.0comments
"The good news is that we are just bringing this game over from Japan," Wood said. "Because of that, Yusuke Emi has already created a number of expansions that we will be looking at and considering going forward. It's hard to say what the future holds in those regards, but we believe that this game will do well and because of that it should see those expansions make their way over to English, at some point, depending on schedules. We never like to promise something that isn't 100% assured, so with that said, while we are talking about the expansions no decision has been made for sure about whether we'll work on all those expansions or not."
If you like the sound of Tokyo Sidekick, you can check it out on Kickstarter right now! Let us know what you think of the game in the comments, and as always feel free to talk all things superheroes and tabletop with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!