While on a visit to a local shrine, the incorrigible Shifu-san fell into a trap laid by the dastardly Kyuubi, a legendary Japanese fox spirit with nine tails. His best friend and party member Mage-chan rushes to the scene, but is too late to help him. She tells Shifu-san that the only way out of this is to cut off all of the Kyuubi's tails before he can be knocked out by her fox pups. And thus, Shifu-san swirls deeper and deeper into the lair of the Kyuubi!
キュウビのしっぽ (Kyuubi no Shippo, Tails of the Kyuubi) by Takahiro Ueda is a digital board game where the goal is to maneuver Shifu-san around the board a total of ten times without getting knocked out by foxes. After each lap around the board, Shifu-san cuts off one of the Kyuubi's tails, but doing so scatters more powerful fox pups around the board. Can you help him escape the Kyuubi's trap?
At the start of each turn, the player can choose to either roll the main dice, or select one of their inventory dice with a set number on it. After that, the player can choose to reroll, but doing so will use up one of the dice. If you run out of dice, it's game over! You have a total of 99 dice in Normal Mode so there is not much worry of running out, but in Hard and Hell Gate modes, you only have nine. To make up for it, Hard and Hell Gate Modes give you more inventory dice, so those modes require more planning and strategizing for the safest way to clear the board.
Once you're satisfied with the dice you rolled (or selected, if it's from your inventory) then you can move that number of spaces. If there is a fox pup on the space that Shifu-san lands on, they will do battle. The foxes' HP, damage, and EXP payouts are equal to their level, and Shifu-san also does as much damage as his current level. So for example, if a level three Shifu-san lands on a square with a level two fox pup, Shifu-san will do three damage to the fox, who only has two HP, and automatically win the battle and gain two experience points. But if Shifu-san is only at level two and lands on a square with a level five fox, Shifu-san will do two damage, then receive a counterattack of five damage, do another two damage, receive another counterattack of five damage, then the final blow on the fox and receive five experience points. There is no healing in this game, so you have to carefully weigh whether it is better to fight a fox and take some damage, or to use one of your precious dice rolls to avoid them.
One of the most striking parts of Tails of the Kyuubi is the funny visuals for the battle scenes. The artwork was done by ICHI, an illustrator who previously worked with Ueda on the ridiculously cute 串焼き職人~初夏の風に吹かれて~ (Kushiyaki Shokunin ~Shoka no Kaze ni Furikakete~, Shishkebab Master ~Sprinkled with Early Summer Breeze~). The dynamic layout of the scenes and sliding manga panel designs give the battle scenes a real sense of action, and are delightful to look at. Even though battling carries a lot of risk, I almost wanted to run into every fox on the board just to make sure I saw all of the battle scenes.
There are a lot of loving little details in this game that add up to make it feel like a real board game or single-player dungeon-crawling TRPG. As I said, you can clear the Normal Mode without having to think much about your remaining dice rolls, but Hard and Hell Gate modes force you to strategize and plan ahead. The Hell Gate mode starts you off with only one HP, so you can't take any damage from the foxes at all! Playing through those modes lead to some tense nail-biting situations.
If you enjoyed Tails of the Kyuubi, you should definitely check out some of Ueda's other analog-like digital games from the Mage-chan and Shifu-san series, like 山グルグル札ぐるぐる (Yama GuruGuru Fuda GuruGuru), ペアダイスバトル (Pair Dice Battle), and one of my personal favorites, 数直線上のカルク (Suuchokusenjou no Calc). All of them feature really interesting twists on classic analog games, and feature our two lovable protagonists. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of adventures they go on next.
You can get Tails of the Kyuubi on Android and iOS, and play the browser version on Unity Room. You can follow Takahiro Ueda on Twitter, and visit their homepage and Unity Room profile for more games. And you can see us clear Hard Mode on our New Year's Eve stream!