Are We There Yet?
A few weeks back, RPGamer had the privilege in sitting down with Atlus to get our hands on one of the first builds of a mysterious Japanese RPG: Dokapon Kingdom. We know what you're thinking: Dokapon Kingdom? Isn't that the old (and painfully long) GBA game that nobody really played? While we were skeptical at first, we were soon comforted by the fact that this was a special port of the original Dokapon game for the Super Famicom, and stays true to the gameplay elements that made the original such a smash hit in Japan.
Eschewing the monster-capturing fun of its Game Boy Advance bretheren, Dokapon Kingdom can best be described as a hybrid RPG board game. You take turns spinning spinners, moving your character along the board Mario Party style, and engaging in battles reminiscent of "rock, paper, scissors" with your fellow players, gigantic monsters, and practically anyone else that you find along your path. After watching a few minutes of intro and tutorial, the RPGamer crew was invited to create our own characters and jump into our very first game.
After creating our initial characters (I chose to be as black of a black mage as I could be), we embarked on our journey across the kingdom. Dokapon Kingdom features many different play modes to enjoy by yourself or with up to three companions. Even though we wouldn't have minded trying out a few modes, we only had enough time to try out one mode, of which the goal was to reach a certain town on the map, defeat its overlord, and claim it for our own.
My first steps around the board were slightly confusing, as I adjusted to finding that the D-pad worked out best for me, and I was soon off to my first battle. In Dokapon Kingdom, you're given four choices when in battle, which vary depending on your character's class and abilities (which can be purchased and leveled up as the game progresses). Generally speaking, you can attack, use an ability/spell, defend, or do some sort of status buff. The computer chooses an attack as well, and in Dokapon's classic "rock, paper, scissors" style of gameplay, your attack can either be null, hit for damage, or cause you to take damage depending on your opponent's choice. There's a high level of chance, but with the right buffs and spells, you can take on larger enemies with more than just luck on your side.
Fear My Hat
Every turn taken in Dokapon progresses the in-game clock a certain amount of time. After a week has passed, your wealth and success are calculated by the game and awards are giving to those in the lead. While we didn't get a chance to play long enough, if one of us were to have such terrible luck to end up in last place for more than a few weeks, we might have been able to acquire some special abilities to help turn the tides.
The atmosphere of Dokapon Kingdom was extremely lighthearted and playful. NPC's had a lot of personality, and could tip the scales in your favor with the right amount of gold. In our playthrough, Mikel stumbled upon the Robo-assassin: a robotic assassin that will gladly eliminate another fellow player for the right price. Since we had a bit of a scuffle a few turns back, Mikel unleashed the wrath of the Robo-assassin on my poor, defenseless mage, leaving me quaking in my boots. After a few turns I thought I had got away scot-free, but suddenly the 'Sassin turned up out of nowhere to claim my life. Knowing my time was almost done, I prepared to start over and see what I could do to get back at my adversary. Much to my surprise, the Robo-assassin asked me if I wanted to pay up and take out the very person who was paying him! Feeling frisky myself, I sent the robot to finish off Mikel, and within a few turns he was dust. It all goes to show that you never quite know whats going to happen in Dokapon Kingdom.
We really enjoyed our time with Dokapon Kingdom thanks to its brisk pace and wacky surroundings. While Mario Party and other board game videogames tend to bore me within minutes of the game, Dokapon Kingdom always had something happening; from giant Robo-assassins annihilating my foes, to mysterious travelers who seem to always be in the need of a little money. Even though the "rock, paper, scissor" battle system may be a bit simplistic for hardened RPG veterans, there's something to be said for a game that you and your friends can pick up and play together. Being able to build up your characters alongside your friends is a great incentive to bring people together, and Dokapon Kingdom looks to appeal to both RPG and non-RPG fans alike through its simple (yet deceptively tricky) gameplay. We're looking forward to more information and playtime with Dokapon Kingdom in months to come.