Beer and Games: Vietnamese Speedway Stout and Tokyo Jungle

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Northeast Asia meets Southeast Asia in this weeks edition of Beer and Games. We have the newly bottled Speedway Stout w/ Vietnamese Coffee and the Playstation 3 exclusive Tokyo Jungle. So right off the bat I have to disclose to you all that regular Speedway Stout is one of my favorite stouts. It is in my top 5 non-barrel aged stouts. It is up their with Marshal Zhukov and Founder’s Breakfast Stout in that category. So I need you to realize that I’m going to enjoy this beer. It is a given. Tokyo Jungle on the other hand is not a given. I’m not a fan of crazy Japan. There I said it. Anime makes me furious. It hits a nerve that I can’t explain but even the slightest sight of it makes me want to punch a hole in the wall.  I don’t get it and it pisses me off. So you have to realize that I have reservations going into a game named Tokyo Jungle produced by Sony Japan Studio. But I will give everything I chance.

So Vietnamese Speedway has been on draft for awhile now, but for the first time it has been bottled and released, and only purchasable on one day only folks. Luckily I got a bottle. And lucky I am. It smells almost identical to regular Speedway in my opinion, but the taste is way way more complex. The coffee is more roasty and the flavor is complimented by a helping a vanilla that I was not expecting. After reading online I see that lactose has been added, so that can explain why I am pulling vanilla out of this. I should probably do a side by side tasting of this next to regular Speedway, but then again I don’t want to die of alcohol poisoning. Yes I finished the whole 750ml bottle, and at 12% abv I probably shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. I could have chugged the whole thing I swear to god. That wouldn’t have turned out well but my mouth would have enjoyed it.

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The pour.

And you have to realize that Beer and Games is a no bullshit operation. This isn’t a staged event. I literally open a bottle and finish it over the course of playing a game and then go right into writing a review. I knew Tokyo Jungle had quite a decent amount of content to it, so I played a few rounds of it a week before doing this formalized Beer and Games for the sake of time, but even still I have only scratched the surface of the amount of unlocks this game provides. I feel I need to provide you, the reader with a summary of what Tokyo Jungle is, but that proves difficult my dear friend. Tokyo Jungle is the definition of unique. You really have not played anything like it. Though I don’t know you, I’m assuming you have never played a Japanese post-apocalyptic animal survival simulator. I will do my best to explain it, but you can not hold it against me when I fail miserably at doing so. Deal?

So every human has disappeared in Tokyo and standard house pets and zoo animals are left to try to survive on their own. Imagine History Channel’s hit show “Life After People” but made in Japan and you basically have Tokyo Jungle. It is a game where Pomeranian pups are fierce predators and hippos roam next to Kangoroos in a decayed urban jungle.

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Pomeranian Massacre.

Graphically Tokyo Jungle looks like shit. It looks like a launch title for Playstation 2. But that isn’t the point and it doesn’t matter. Tokyo Jungle is a concept game. Basically you pick your animal (ranging from house cats to dinosaurs) and you run around eating and mating to keep your species going. Gameplay really is dead simple and can appeal to all ages. You run around as the animal of your choosing to various locations and struggle to mark them as your own while feeding on weaker species and fleeing as fast as possible from larger creatures. And if you survive long enough by eating, running and marking your territory you get the luxury of woo-ing a woman and taking her back to your nest. The scene fades to black before anything crazy happens so don’t get to excited, weirdo.

But then you produce a new generation and repeat that process all over again. And this is where Tokyo Jungle’s main issue surfaces. It is repeatitive, and sometimes even boring.  It is quickly evident that this not a couch sitter experience. This is more of a 20 minutes here and there, jump in and out experience, and the old school arcade leaderboards and simplistic menu reiterate this. You may spend a good 5 minutes running down a straight empty road with no action happening. Get ready.

And that may result in you encountering a crocodile that will come out of nowhere and kill you in one hit.  It can be frustrating. My main complaint is there really is no evolution from generation to generation as your species.  Yes you gain life, but I was really hoping that by my 10th generation as a house cat that I’d be a horrifying beast that could murder a tiger with a glare.  This doesn’t seem to be the case though.  No real benefit and reward comes from continuing on as a single creature.  You unlock new species for play later, but besides competing in the leaderboards there is no reason to continue.  You do unlock some really ridiculous outfits (yes outfits) for your species like hats and pet clothes that add skills, but nothing really beneficial enough to keep you going in my opinion.

The fact that Tokyo Jungle is so unique helps its case, but at the end of the day your really repeat the same process over and over with no real goal. Fortunately you do get a multitude of challenges provided dynamically as you play and the allure of unlocking new species could be strong enough to keep you going. But it doesn’t keep me engaged enough to want to keep playing day after day. Here and there yes, but not day after day. Tokyo Jungle is more of a game I would play once a month, unlocking a new species and waiting till the next month to play as them. Which isn’t a bad thing per say.

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Living the Life.

Vietnamese Speedway is something I would drink day after day though. Seriously. I’d probably die of liver failure (die happy) but I would drink this beer night after night. Alesmith has taken what is already a ridicuilously good stout and made it even better. I’ve had both Marshal Zhukov Penultimate Push and Final Push (both never formally bottled), and this beer invokes both. It really is the perfect vanilla coffee stout. Thank god I’m getting more bottles in.

If you don’t have a bottle already, you will have to trade for it or get a glass of it on draft at the brewery or nearby. It is totally worth it if you get the luxury try it though. I’m a sucker in general for coffee stouts, but even so this is an incredible beer. I really can’t find any issues with it minus the fact that I can’t get it in common supply. Tokyo Jungle has its faults, but I still recommend it. At the end of the day this game tried something completely new and it really did succeed at doing so. Tokyo Jungle shines during the moments of chaos where Hippos are attacking wolves while chimpanzees run away flailing, all while you as a relatively pathetic beagle dog attempt to sneak by without being seen. It is ridiculous and I love it… for the first 10 minutes. Again it gets old quick, but as a pick up and play game here and there, there’s nothing like it.

Tokyo Jungle actually does have a complex story behind it that I have (at this time) not fully explored. You struggle to unlock new story missions in attempt to learn why exactly humanity has left. In my quick google searches it seems robotic dogs and time travel are involved? Don’t yell at me if none of that is true, I honestly do not know having only unlocked 4 story missions. But that does seem to be the case. I’m intrigued.

It does annoy me that there are micro-transactions to get some of the more ridiculous species (cavemen, office workers, saber-toothed tiger and the utterly horrifying “fat cat”), but I got Tokyo Jungle on sale on PS-Plus for $3, so I can’t complain. Each add-on character seems to be only a $1 so it is not something to complain too much about.  It is a new world we live in man.

At the end of the day Tokyo Jungle is something special. It is unique and nothing out there really is comparible to it. Yes it has its flaws (repetiation and simple gameplay), but it’s uniqueness outweighs all of this. Just don’t expect a game you’ll want to play for 5+ hours at a time. On the other hand, Vietnamese Speedway really isn’t anything unique if you think about it. It is a coffee stout with strong vanilla flavor. I can name a ton of beers that pitch themselves as that. But this Alesmith beer gets everything right to the point that I have no complaints.  None. The only reason you would not like this beer is if you don’t like coffee stouts. In which case you are wrong anyways. Get it together and grow up.

Alesmith Speedway Stout w/ Vietnamese Coffee: 9.5/10
Tokyo Jungle: 7.5/10

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Author: Chris Fadeley View all posts by
I am UF alumni and a computer engineer. I know virtually every useless fact about videogames ever. I like computers and potatoes.

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