The Wheel of Fate
I've been a fan of video forms of board games, as well as new ideas strictly in video game form. While I've not found myself drawn to the Mario Party series, I do enjoy a rousing game of Itadaki Street on the PSP or Carcassonne on the Xbox 360. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when Atlus' final game for our Run to the Sun visit was a light-hearted board game named Dokapon Kingdom.
My first impression was that Dokapon Kingdom might be too cute to make its way into today's multiplayer market. However, it didn't take long to see the charm in the design and accept it as a game my peers would play. This was obvious by how we all took to the game, wanting to win at all costs.
For the game we played, the characters started at level 20. This made our goal a good distance away and gave us plenty of time to explore all the options available. The map is basically the Earth, simplified and renamed. We had to travel from what would be Asia all the way to the west coast of North America. First one there who can defeat the monster wins. To move, a spinner appears and pressing a button stops it. The routes on the map formed a lot of loops, allowing one to move to multiple options on the map with a single spin. This is very handy when trying to land on a castle or an item shop, or best of all, an opponent.
What would the Ogre do?
Battles were straight forward. The attacker decides which face-down card to take. Whoever gets the red card goes first. Each combatant has up to four options to select from. If the defender picks the opposing option for the attack, they can evade or even counter the attack. Otherwise, the attacker deals damage and the defender, presuming it survived, has its turn to attack. If there is no victor, the turn ends and the battle will continue next turn. Other players can jump into the battle and decide what side to fight on. If one player takes out another, they get the option of forgiving them, changing their name, or even drawing graffiti on the character. Anna Marie enjoyed both of these latter options, thanks to Michael's brutality. The winner gains some experience points and possibly an item.
There are a lot of decisions and possibilities along the way that help broaden the experience and make it more than a deadpan race to the finish. If at any time a player is defeated, they return to the starting town, unless they have set up sanctuary along the way at a nearby church. Each continent provides more challenges, but better equipment, so it might be beneficial to make a detour to gear up or to visit the church. There are also different modes of play. There are ways to win these modes without being the one who actually makes it to the end. We didn't get to try these as our single game took more than enough time, but more will be known before release. One example was winning by wealth. Freeing towns pays you a tax stipend each week, building your overall wealth. Thus, capturing the last town may not be enough to win.
Judging from the playthrough we had, this will be a great party game. It doesn't require a mastery of the twitch arts like some games. Anna Marie, despite her inability to win a battle against a breathing opponent, did manage to reach the goal first (thanks to some Atlus assistance). I managed to be double-crossed by my own assassin, which was the highlight of my journey, truly. At least I gained a level.