You'll have to play to find out how Tokyo became this wasteland of rampant wildlife, abandoned cars and poisoned air. But a similar scenario came to life in the wake of 2011's nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, with many towns in Japan's northeast evacuated and only the pets and farm animals remaining. And since pets, especially small dogs, already outnumber children in ageing Japan, the concept is all the more believable.
The game is barking mad, of course, its gritty violence offset by a surreal streak of humour. Unlock clothes (or buy them with points) and you can dress up, not only boosting your animal's stats but also making it look hilarious. Other items let you replenish your various gauges, such as pet food (Hunger), bottled water (Poison) and flea shampoo (uh, fleas). The fact that it's all set just around the corner from Kabukicho, immortalised in the deadly serious Yakuza series, makes it all the more endearing.
Story Mode is made up of short missions that must be unlocked individually in Survival Mode. In one, a plucky pair of Pomeranian pups must drag home carrion for their parents; in another, a lonely deer sneaks stealthily past hyenas, ravens and raptors to reach a family of gazelles - only to find that they don't accept her either. The missions force you to play as different animals and, like the rest of the game, have their floppy tongue firmly in cheek.
Originally slated as a PSN-only game, and eventually released on disc as a budget title, Tokyo Jungle doesn't exactly look triple-A. The graphics are PS2.5-quality, the textures chunky, the animation jerky, the resolution low, the HUD busy. A few more Trophies and narration on the story and tutorial elements would also have been welcome. But as a fun, funny, totally unique experience with old-school appeal and dozens of hours of gameplay, Tokyo Jungle is as adorable as kittens.
Perfect in execution, if not presentation. Breeding your animal over the generations is so rewarding, you'll soon forgive the rough edges.