Review by Ami_Long
"A decent party game for the DS!"
Dokapon Journey Review
Dokapon Journey is another installment in the Dokapon series. The basic concept is something resembling a classic monopoly type of game with a RPG twist. The concept itself is interesting enough, but the gameplay itself is a bit lacking in some regards. The game clearly attempts to eliminate flaws from some of it's predecessors, but ends up adding up a whole new onslaught of problems that keep me from liking it more than other installments (although admittedly the only one I have to compare it to is the PS2/Wii version Dokapon Kingdom).
The Kingdom of Dokapon has been threatened by several incoming monsters. What does the king do to solve the problem? Hire 4 rag-tag people to stop them! However, to ensure that none of the people actually work together in exiling such monsters from the kingdom, he opts to have them hate each other by offering up his crown as well as his daughter's hand in marriage to the one who amasses the most money by the end of the game.
That's the game in a nutshell. The story is simple and silly, but it works for what it's worth-- bringing people together to screw each other over for a couple of hours.
For a DS game, the graphics are very basic-- that's not to say that it's a bad thing, because they work. Dokapon Journey is filled with some of the most bright, vibrant, crisp, and colorful graphics seen on the DS. It's just that most of them aren't exactly breathtaking either. The board looks exactly like what you'd expect a board game to look like with each character token being a representative of their class and color they chose. Unfortunately, in this game, one is unable to change their appearance via haircuts like Dokapon Kingdom, but I suppose that is not surprising considering that they are 2-D sprites and the game seems to have far less of a budget this time around. Again, the graphics are nothing special or fancy, but they most certainly work, and are far more lively than say, Pokemon's graphical interface inside and outside of battle.
Players start by selecting a job in the beginning of the game to determine their stat growths with each level they gain. After each level, the players are also asked to select two more additional stat points (HP, Strength, Defense, Magic, and Speed) which allows players to customize themselves to their own liking. What I do like is that each job is unique in both the choice of stat growths and job abilities. Like the Paladin for instance has a move that enables them to heal in battle. Unfortunately, you cannot switch classes once you have chosen them at the beginning of the game, so a player better be absolutely confident they will like their job or they won't be enjoying the game anytime soon.
The gameplay itself is simple but effective enough. Up to 4 players take turns by spinning the spinner and moving around on the board to take the appropriate amount of steps. There are (for the most part) 4 types of icons that one will step on. Battle spheres, treasure chest (blue and yellow), store spaces and town spaces. Blue Treasures are items, and yellow chests contain gold. Store spaces are self explanatory-- there you purchase items and gear to assist you on your quests.
Battle spheres are just as you would think they sound. When you land on them, you are then placed into battle versus an opponent. For the most part you will be fighting enemies in a rock, paper scissors method where you have 4 commands instead of 3. In battle, both you and the opponent are dealt a card, and the player that is currently taking their turn will select one of the cards. This determines who goes first. After that, both opponents then select one of 4 commands (less if they do not have the appropriate equipment). The offensive person will generally select from Strike, Attack, Magic, and their job skill, while the opponent selects from Counter, Defend, Magic Defend, and Give Up, where each defensive command respectively beats each offensive command. The problem with it, is that it's not really rock, paper, scissors so the balance is tipped in extremely odd methods.
For starters, the magic command is borderline useless in the early game. Magic is not only hard to come across, but is in limited qualities, so any mage will have a difficult time using it, much less, they might not even have the magic stat to make use of such so even IF they could afford magic, they wouldn't be using the skill. Sure, the only true defensive stat against magic is the magic stat, but when rarely anyone is using it, it's not much of an issues. Later on, magic becomes much better, but the fun factor of trying to be a mage is difficult when everyone around you can easily defeat you.
Second, Strike versus Counter is ridiculous. Counter, the option that is supposed to be beat Strike is way over the top for its victory. Strike is basically a power attack that does more damage than, and seems to pierce defensive stances (meaning that using defend against such is useless), which makes it pretty much one shot anything is touches. Counter stops Strike from occurring completely. Not only do they not do the damage when Counter is used, but they actually KILL the person they countered more often than not. Any sort of strategy that would have occurred in this battle system is lost thanks to both of these commands. I've only seen one person survive all of the Strike -> Counter events over the course of the game, and believe me, if you play this game to its completion, you will see Strike -> Counter a lot. Even someone at a level 1 could beat a level 100 so long as they countered their strike. That skews the balance to a point of absurdity not seen by either Attack -> Defend or Magic -> M.Guard. So why did they have to ruin something that was very close to perfection? It was always a problem in Dokapon Kingdom, so I'm not really sure why they left the system very close to the original. It's clear they attempted to fix problems that plagued Kingdom, you'd think they would have at least fixed one of their base mechanics.
Outside of the battle system's flaws, the game works relatively well. Characters will find themselves generally making money by recovering towns from the local monsters that have attacked them and becoming the owner of the town. There they can collect taxes from the town to gain profits and most importantly, invest in the town to have even more assets overall. If you are in story mode, there are even events that will occur over the course of the chapters to give a person a chance to gain monetary earnings in other ways outside of necessarily battling monsters in towns, so there are breaks in the monotony to keep the game interesting.
Honestly, the music for this game is completely average. I don't particularly remember much of the music or sounds in the game with the exception of the world map song, and that's probably because you hear it most of the game. The sounds aren't anything exceptional either, just generic smacks and thuds you'll hear from pretty much every other game. There's nothing wrong with it, and it works, it's just not noteworthy.
Even if the game can be rather wonky and not very fun due to some mechanics, this game is one of the most multiplayer friendly games I have seen. Quite literally, the game thrives off of the fact that it is multiplayer. I'll admit that seeing your friend scowl at you because you just stole all of their equipment is at least nice for a couple of laughs. That is to say, it's fun until they carry out their revenge on you. But at the very least, the game is directly as fun as the people you are playing with, which carries the game a bit farther than the in game mechanics themselves. It's not everyday that you see games that are so multiplayer reliant.
Replay Factor 8/10
The game does have a great replay value if you have friends that are willing to play. I docked off a few points, because this game is LONG. It's long to the point that even games like monopoly are short in comparison. You probably will not complete the story mode in one setting, so finding the same group of friends constantly might be difficult unless you and your friends plan to set a few weeks off to the side to play the game.
Dokapon Journey is a fun game overall I'd say. If you have a group of friends that are willing to play it, I'd say go ahead and give it a try. If you cannot find any friends, don't bother with it, as the game mechanics are a bit too flawed to really play the game by yourself and enjoy it to the fullest.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/19/10
Game Release: Dokapon Journey (US, 04/14/09)
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