It may be hard to believe given the number of titles don’t make it over to North America from Japan, but Boing! Docomodake, based on a Japanese cell phone mascot, has made its way stateside and is now for sale. Let’s forget for a moment the inspiration for the game, as I’m going to assume that most of those reading have no attachment to the character or previous experience with him. What we have here is a fun and quirky puzzle platformer game that exudes charm, despite not knowing anything about the characters involved beforehand.
You play as Papa Docomodake in this AQ Interactive developed title, as he searches for his missing family members. In order to find them, he needs to reach the exit of each area after solving a few puzzles along the way. Papa is a bit plodding and slow on his own, but thankfully he has a nifty power: he can split himself into mini Docomodake’s, which can then be used to build ladders, bridges, fill in gaps, and be thrown as objects. You start with four of these minis, but gain more as you travel by finding treasure chests along the way.
Mar. 10, 2009
There is actually a lot you can do with the minis, and you will need to utilize all of their powers-sometimes within the same levels-in order to collect all of the coins and treasures as well as find the exit. Thankfully, the game comes with a tutorial that you can use to prepare yourself for the main game, and each time a use for your minis comes up or a new obstacle appears for the first time, your in-game info screen is updated; this can be accessed at any time during the level, so if you have forgotten how to do something, you can access it right there and save yourself some time.
You can move and jump with either the directional pad or the face buttons (so no worries, left-handers, this game is designed with us in mind as well), and the stylus is used to move your minis around the screen to wherever you wish. While you can move your minis anywhere that is visible on the screen without moving Papa as well, they are vulnerable to attack (and you as the player accidentally ramming them into a floor of spikes) and have 10 seconds to live after this occurs; reattaching them to Papa Docomodake resets this clock and saves them. If you do happen to lose some minis along the way, have no fear, as you can either wait until the end of the level to regain them, or hit the bell found in some levels with a projectile mini to revive them. If Papa is hit while he has his minis collected, one will pop out with this same 10 second clock, but if he is all out of minis, it will be Game Over for you. Thankfully, you can restart from the level you were just on with all of your progress saved, so it isn’t a huge deal to fail.
The gameplay is fun, but there are some minor issues. Controlling all of the minis can be a pain on occasion when you have enemies or spikes around, as you may cause injury to some of them without meaning to. There are also jugs you need to fill up, and the minis shoot out of them once they are full. If another accidentally goes in the jug though, you have to fill it again and hope it doesn’t happen a second time. Pressing the shoulder buttons causes four minis to come out of Papa at once, which is convenient unless you’re backed into a corner; then they bounce off of the wall and maybe into that nearby bed of spikes. None of these are serious issues though, but are just something to consider while playing and strategizing with your minis.
You could take exception to the game’s length-it’s about four hours long-but you are able to go back and replay the levels to earn better grades in them by collecting all of the coins and treasures in a timely fashion. You can then use these coins to unlock different assets such as art work and music, which is a nice reason to go back if you find yourself enjoying the game’s charm. Boing! Docomodake also retails for just $19.99, so there’s a solid amount of content given the price.
The puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, and the game is a bit short, so it probably skews more towards the younger DS crowd than the older. But there was charm in it for this gamer, thanks to the mini game mechanic, the ranking system, and it’s quirky nature, and it’s hard to go wrong for just $20, especially given it has some replay value. Pick it up if you see it in stores, and hope more titles like this will make their way to North America in the future, whether through standard retail or the upcoming DSi Ware online store.