Tokyo Highway is a tabletop game produced by the Japanese developer Itten and published by Asmodee. Tokyo Highway, now in its second edition, started life as a two player game with an expansion taking the player count to four. You are now able to purchase a box with enough components for four players in a single box, which is the edition we're reviewing here.
The first thing everyone notices about Tokyo Highway is the simplistic component design. Most of the components are grey, with the rest made to stand out coming in blue, green, pink, orange, and yellow. The components are simply blocks of shaped wood, stocky wooden cylinders and lollypop sticks, which may sound cheap, but they all have a minimalistic elegance, which really stands up against today's modern component tabletop games.
Each player starts with a number of cars, depending on the number of players in the game (10 for a 2-player game, 8 for 3-player and 7 for 4-player games). The object of the game is to place all of your cars on the roads you build. Cars can be placed on one of your roads for every time it crosses an opponent's road.
To place a road, players place the sticks, supported by the cylindrical blocks. All players start with a single on-ramp on the table, a road leading up to a lone cylinder. When players place roads, they always join on to their current track of roads. The next road they place has to lead to a stack of cylinders 1 higher or shorter than the previous one. So your first cylinder block, after your initial on-ramp, has to be 2 cylinders with a road joining them together.
Each cylinder can only have one road off and on from it and roads placed cannot touch another player's road, but they can go over and under them. There are also special yellow cylinders that players have a limited number of, these can be used to make the cylinder column any height, ignoring the 1 more or less restriction of standard cylinders and can also have two roads coming off them, rather than just the usual one. When cars are placed on the roads, they have to balance, so increasing the road height too dramatically can make that very difficult as they will just slide down.
If at any point you knock over any components that have been placed, you have to give your opponents an equal amount of your own cylinders as a penalty. This makes completing your own roads more difficult as you will have fewer components, and theirs easier, as they will have more.
Games of three or four players also include buildings, to make placing you roads more challenging. They are placed at the start of the game and cause obstructions for the placement of your roads. Tweezers are also provided for placing components in those hard to reach places.
Tokyo Highway is solid fun, with great looking components. It's an interesting party game and with four players as it gets very interesting quickly and can be challenging. Our only issue is that it can be a bit like multiplayer games of Jenga, in that sometimes, if a player drops a lot of roads, it's impossible to recreate the game, so you have a loser, but no defined winner. This situation felt strange when you've put a lot of effort into building some intricate roadways.
The game does look great and is fantastic fun to play. The tactical element is interesting and things can get very competitive. There is a lot of replayability and it's a great piece to have out to play. The colors and components will get a lot of interest if playing in public at a gaming cafe or club. With two players it can be tactical from the start, as coming back from an early lead can be hard, so keeping up and blocking your opponent, while being able to still maintain your own road building pace poses a very interesting challenge.
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The Bottom Line:
Tokyo Highway has solid components and great gameplay. It's fun for 2, 3, or 4 players but games ending because a player has knocked over the roads and you can't recreate them sometimes feels off. It's minimalistic components and color scheme visually enhances the game, and the solid tactical gameplay gives it a lot of replayability. There's a great balance between tactics and dexterous ability, which make it very interesting and rewarding if you're able to complete your roads and win.
Get this game if:
You want a great looking minimalistic game.
You love dexterity based challenge games.
You want a great tactical party game.
Avoid this game if:
You like to have a clear winner in games.
You don't want a game that can end prematurely because of a mistake.
You don't want a dexterity based game.
This copy of Tokyo Highway was provided by Asmodee UK
What do you think of Tokyo Highway's components? Have you played Tokyo Highway? how many players did you have? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.
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