Review by SneakTheSnake

"A fun puzzle game with one major flaw."

It happens one in a while. An excellent game is released and is subsequently overlooked by the gaming masses. Perhaps the game was released among a flurry of higher-profile games, or, in the case ocf Docomodake DS, the game wasn't too highly anticipated because, well, practically no one in the States knows who Doco is. That's probably because Doco, a plucky little mushroom character, is a Japanese cell phone mascot, nothing else.This puzzler, curiously enough, was brought over to the US. I'm glad that it was, though, because it's an excellent game in its own right.

I don't know much about Doco's history or presence in Japan outside of what I just mentioned, but I can tell you that this DS game starring him is a very enjoyable one. Doco has been separated from his family, and it is up to him to rescue each family member, one of which being trapped in a different world. One was blown away, one landed in a river and is floating away,

Docomodake DS reminds me a lot of Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 or The Humans, two stage-based puzzle games released on the DS. In Doco, the object of each stage is to make it to the goal, and there are plenty of standard video game traps and items - coins to collect, ladders to climb, hills to roll down, floating platforms to navigate - on your way to the goal. The trick to Doco is that, in addition to being able to jump and climb, the main character can be split into smaller representations of himself. Press a button or tap the character with the stylus and Doco will split into several smaller, more nimble Docos, who can slip through small passages, activate faraway switches and even be used as projectiles against enemies. This is the gimmick that gets players through the game.

If a switch is beyond your reach, if an enemy is bugging you from above, or if you want to build a bridge or ladder where there isn't one around, simply split up your Doco and make it happen. The game uses this concept to great effect, especially in its puzzles; though the puzzles aren't too taxing after the first try, they're incredibly creative. Players may have to recreate a pattern by placing Docos in a large grid, for example, or fill enough of them up in a large pot in order to open a door.

Docomodake DS takes place over several dozen levels, so the game has legs. Each level can be done in a time trial mode, and it can be tough at times to collect all the coins scattered across each stage. I'd rate the difficulty and game length as below average. Most levels, even in the last area, can be completed quite easily on the first try - even without the one niggling flaw that breaks the game.

There's one major problem, though: it's quite easy to grind in Docomodake. Part of the strategy and difficulty in the game is effectively managing your troupe of Docos - doing what you can with however many you have at the time. Players may have just enough Docos to slip by in a level; five will be needed for a latter, four will be needed to create a pattern on the wall and so on. However, players can revisit the same level early on in the game - one in which players are rewarded with a new Doco - and simply play it over and over again until the player has the maximum amount of Docos possible. This easy way to exploit the system makes a lot of the puzzles much easier, as the resource management is taken out of the game.

What Docomodake has going for it are its charm and interesting gameplay mechanics. Despite the game's inhibiting gameplay flaw, the game still gives the player a lot to do, and it can be very fun to do it. The story, as well as the sheer creativity and uniqueness in the game's design, made it worth it for me to play the game to the end. What can I say? I found the game charming, the characters endearing and, at times, genuinely funny. However, the ability to cheat the game out of its challenge can be a compromising flaw, for those who are out there to exploit it. Play the game as it's intended to be played and you surely won't be disappointed.

At the very least, Docomodake looks and sounds nice. The game isn't technologically impressive, except perhaps for the flawless integration of the DS stylus, but its graphics and sound are nice and upbeat. The game looks like an SNES title (and take that as you will); the game's music is catchy and light.

The game has very little replay value, except for a last secret world for finding all of the game's trinkets and beating all the levels. Perfectionists can unlock all of the cutscenes by using all the coins collected throughout the adventure but, in all honesty, the cutscenes only warrant one play-through anyway. Suffice it to say, Docomodake is a short, albiet entertaining and enjoyable puzzle game. It's worth picking up, particularly at its affordable price - taking its unfortunate cheat for what it's worth.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/07/11

Game Release: Boing! Docomodake DS (US, 03/10/09)

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