Turn-Based Party Time
Normally, when you think of party games, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is a recent iteration of Mario Party. And when you think of RPGs, chances are good that you’ll probably think of your favorite Final Fantasy title. These two genres couldn’t be more different, but they have recently been combined in mash-up title, Dokapon Kingdom.
The game’s premise revolves around an epic monster invasion of the Kingdom of Dokapon. These monsters are very sinister and end up stealing all the money from the hapless citizens of Dokapon. In a panic, the king of Dokapon hurriedly summons brave knights from around the world and offers up his own thrown (as well as his daughter’s hand in marriage) to anyone who can save the Kingdom from physical and financial ruin. This is where you come in.
The game works like a traditional party game by letting you create a character and guiding them through a game-board filled with activities and events. This is where the RPG portion of the game kicks in. You will spin a virtual spinner to move around and will encounter enemies who you will have to fight using turn-based combat. As you progress, you will be able to level up your character and outfit them with new accessories, weapons, and attacks. The leveling up system is quite deep, and every time you play, the experience will be different.
There are two main battle types in the game. Encounter battles take place when your character stumbles upon a blank space on the game board. These encounter battles are generally very easy and will only consist of a single turn, where one hit will KO your attacker. The other type of battle is a village boss battle, where you fight the main villain in one of the many little villages on the board. Battles against these monsters will take several turns and will generally require you to level up around the board before attempting them. This battle system is quite fun, and the different encounter battles combined with the big battles give some real RPG authenticity to the game.
However, despite the deep facets of the gameplay and the enjoyable battle system, this title is not without its problems. One huge issue I had with this title was its round length. Party games, by their very nature, are pick-up-and-play affairs, and a singular round should not take more than an hour. But with Dokapon Kingdom, party rounds can drag on for several hours. Although it is possible to save your game and exit after every couple turns, I can’t imagine inviting friends over for a “continue” party. The game’s length really makes it impossible to play at simple get-togethers, which completely negates its party-game appeal.
Another thing that was really frustrating about this title was the poor handicap system. It is very easy for a single character to rocket so far ahead of other characters that it is impossible to catch up. Because the game’s progress is not specifically goal oriented, and progress is judged by money, if you are able to hit two or three monster hotspots in a row, it is very easy for a singular character to be able to take virtually all the money in the stage, especially since the monsters disappear once vanquished. The game will eventually afford unfortunate players some “evil” handicaps as they fall behind, but this generally kicks in after there is just no hope. And considering the extremely long round length, it is much easier for losing players to quit after 2 or 3 unfortunate turns rather than stick it out waiting for something to happen.
The visuals in this title are fairly good, however the game has an overwhelmingly simplistic design. For example, when you trigger a battle sequence there are no fancy animations or cool graphics, you’ll just appear on a nondescript battle stage and battle it our with some simplistic attack animations. To its credit, the game does look happy and bright, and the different characters certainly are cute, but there is just not enough detail to make this game look great.
The sound here also suffers from an overall bland feel. The level music is passable; it consists of some simplistic tunes that change as the level scenery changes. However, the voiceovers are really repetitive, and each character only has a handful of stock phrases that they repeat over and over throughout the game.
Control in Dokapon Kingdom is very simple and consists of using your choice of the Wii-mote turned on its side, the classic controller, or the GameCube controller to run around the board and battle various enemies. There are no motion controls, and different battle actions are mapped on-screen according to your different control scheme.
For all of its faults, Dokapon Kingdom is not that bad of a title. The RPG twist on party games actually makes for some fun and interesting gameplay, and if you can keep up with your fellow competitors, then you’ll probably be in for a good time. Being able to level-up your party character and outfit them with different jobs, weapons, and accessories definitely affords some memorable experiences to the title, and there is quite a bit of replay value here.
Even though I did enjoy playing Dokapon Kingdom, it unquestionably suffers from a lack of balance. There is too much involved in this title for those looking for a pick-up-and-play party game, and it is overly simplistic for those interested in playing a serious RPG. But this game is definitely unique among its peers, and although it is not quite the best of both worlds, it is definitely worth checking out if you are a party game or RPG enthusiast.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
Graphics are a little too simplistic and animations are repetitive and basic. 4.3 Control
Simple action-button-based controls work well. 2.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is alright, but repetitive dialogue becomes annoying quickly. 3.7 Play Value
Despite being entertaining for a few hours, this “party” game requires too much of a commitment for casual players and too little for hardcore RPG fans. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.