don’t tell me the ending to: Dokapon Kingdom

Dokapon Kingdom is an almost entirely unknown game.  Recently released for the Wii and PS2 (both versions identical except for 16:9 and progressive support on the Wii), Dokapon Kingdom is a multiplayer board game.  It can be cut into ‘party game’ sized chunks, but is definetely more board game than ‘party’ (Read: Minigame) game.

Take Final Fantasy 1, add humor, and make it a competative board game.  Players take turns travelling the board.  Land on a Shop or Chest space and you collect or buy items.  Land on an empty space and a Random (often Fight) occurs.  Two players land on the same empty space and they can duel each other.   You level up as you defeat enemies, and lose equipment each time you die (and early, you die often).  The game has a variety of modes, from mini-missions that take 1-3 hours, to an entire campaign that can last 15 hours (each is savable and resumable at any point).

Hopefully that basic description gives you an idea of how the game plays.  Now, on to a few specifics.

Dokapon Kingdom looks awful.  In just about every way.  The incredibly cute anime graphics will not bring in the average non-gamer.  The fact they look like they came from a low budget PS2 title does not help matters.  The games presentation, especially initially with player naming and creation, is pretty poor.  But, like many Apple products, the interface is easy not intuitive.  This makes it hard for new players, but after you play a match you will start to get the hang of the stream lined interface.  Turns that used to drag can be accomplished with a few hotkey presses of the wiimote.

The subtitle “the Friendship Destroying Game” could be very accurate.  After I defeated a friend of mine, and gave her a bald head, she stopped questing for towns, gold, experience, and made a bee line straight back to the starting castle in order to redo her hair, effectively taking her out of the game for a few rounds.  Poisonings, magic attacks from afar, and general taunting were commonplace and fun.  The game is designed as a cooperative/competative experience, but at least early game leans *heavily* towards competition.  Still, if it isn’t built it, it would be easy to make house rules or Risk/Diplomacy alliances.  In fact, probably necessary to help defeat some of the boss characters that roam the map.

Overall, Dokapon Kingdom feels like a unique game experience.  It is clearly a board game, but to actually play it as a board game would take dozens of die rolls, hundreds of pieces, and a huge table to unroll a giant map upon.  It is very unlikely it would exist, and if it did only the most hardcore boardgame players could operate it.  As a Wii/PS2 game, however, it can be setup in minutes (which still feels a bit too long), and controlled with just a sideways wiimote.

I imagine the best experience would be one similar to the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, or Marvel Ultimate Alliance: having a group of 4 friends play through the entire campaign together an hour here or there at a time.  But as a 1-3 hours board game it certainly seems to hold its own as well.  I just need to delve into some of the more advanced setup options (such as starting character level) to find a good “Intro” level/combination.

Note: this was the best fight screen I could grab in under 30 seconds of searching.  On the Wii it uses the D-pad.  Each player has 4 choices that play out like picking a play in Tecmo Bowl.  Pick Attack, and the Defender picks block then they’ll take less damage.  Pick Counter and you’ll deal extra damage, even to a Defender, but if they picked Counter then they’ll do damage to you.  Magic vs Magic Defence, etc.