Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Platformer, Puzzle
Developer: AQ Interactive
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Dual Screen Compatible
Wireless DS Single Download Play
I have to be honest and say that when I received Boing! Docomodake for the Nintendo DS I had no idea of what the game was about and who the main character in the game is. So thanks to the power of the internet I did a little research and found out that the mushroom like character is actually based of a cell phone mascot popular in Japan. Yep, a game released in North America is based on a Japanese cell phone mascot from Japan’s NTT DoCoMo. I have to say that this is surprising to say the least. However, surprises are good, and as much as I was surprised with the source material of the game, I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this little title.
If there is one thing that Boing! Docomodake is it is cute and it has a certain appeal that you just can’t ignore. The main character is pretty much a mushroom with arms and legs, but he is pretty charming in design. All the supporting characters (e.g. the main character’s family and enemies) match the game’s endearing approach. The level design is somewhat kid friendly with bright colors and simple tasks, but they do get a little more complicated in looks (and play) as you get further into the game. The 2D style suits the game very much and there is not a lot to dislike here. Sure, it is not going to win any awards for being technologically advanced or pushing the DS hardware, but what is presented on-screen looks pretty good and suits the theme of the game.
The sound is as simple, but yet cute, just like the visuals offered in the game. From the very charming and chipper music to the simple but solid sound effects such as jumping around to sending out your mini-Docomodakes, everything is pretty solid and manages to convey and add to the atmosphere of the game you play. There is not much more that I can say here.
As I mentioned, our mushroom like character heralds from Japan, and most Western gamers won’t have a clue who he is. That being said don’t let that scare you from the game as it has a strange addictiveness to it. Our main character has to search the world he inhabits in search of the rest of his family who went missing as they went to collect goodies for the annual village festival. You will venture through a total of 40 or so levels in your efforts to find the family you love and bring them back in time to celebrate the annual festival. There are short, but sweet, panels (or screens should you wish) that tell each family members story of where they are and how they got there.
The best way to describe the gameplay in Boing! Docomodake is that it is a platform/puzzle hybrid. Anyone who has played Nintendo’s own Mario vs. Donkey Kong should understand the game type right away. You will face quite a variety of challenges including moving platforms, different types of enemies, ladders, trap doors, spikes, gates, switches and all the regular fare you have come to expect in platform based games.
Before you go off and say “geez louise, this is just another mario-like clone”, I have to tell you that it is not just that. Our main hero has the strange ability to break up into little mini-Docomodakes. This is where the puzzle element of the game comes in. These mini-Docomodakes can be used for a variety of things. You can launch them like projectiles, pile them up to weigh down switches or platforms, fill in blank areas to create missing blocks, and you can even stack them on top of each other to form a Doco-Ladder (a term I just coined while writing this review). As the mini-Docomodakes are actually part of your main character he will decrease in size the more of the mini’s you send out. I should note that each of the minis will not be able to reattach to the main Docomodake after 10 seconds. Using the mini-Docomodakes is kind of cool and it adds a bit of originality, and even some strategy, to the game at hand. I even found myself somewhat sad when I had to sacrifice some of my minis, but alas I had to do what I had to do to finish the game.
A major part of the success of Boing! Docomodake is the control scheme that is implemented in the game. Developers AQ Interactive did a great job of making a simple game control so simple. Most movements are assigned directly the the D-pad. You walk, duck, dig, jump and roll all using the DS’s D-pad. Controlling your minis is accomplished by using the stylus. It is as simple as tapping the mini, dragging it to where you need to use it, and releasing it. As noted above, the minis can be reabsorbed by your main character and should you wish, you can draw a circle around a large group of them and bring them back at once. I liked the fact that I could control each and every mini, but I think that some younger gamers may have problems with what can seem like micromanaging each and every one.
An experienced gamer will only take around five hours or so to finish the game; however as the game can be found for around 20 bucks (USD) that isn’t too bad of a value. Once you finish the main story you can go back through the game and collect every coin and get the best grade possible for each level. These coins can then be spent on such things as story art, music, themes and pictures. For the diehard this is more incentive to play and play again.
Although I had no clue where the game’s mascot originated, and I had to do some surfing to find out it is a mascot for a Japanese cell phone company, I really did enjoy the whole package offered. From the cute visuals, upbeat sound, and somewhat addicting gameplay, all that is offered on the DS card is well worth the 20 or so bones you will pay to experience this game. Sure it is not the best thing ever, but I still have to thank Ignition Entertainment for having the foresight to release a good and unexpected title to the masses.