In general, the Wii isn’t well-known for epic role-playing titles, nor is it famous for hardcore games. Though gamers are having fun playing Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, there hasn't been very much to quench gamer's thirst for RPG's. While Japanese Wii owners are getting a several neat looking role players, these is always some doubt about such text-heavy titles getting translated for English-speaking markets. It's obvious that Japanese gamers are particularly fond of the genre, but in other parts of the world there are fans just as hardcore. In what could be seen as an attempt to satisfy them, Atlus has stepped in with its RPG-themed Mario Party rip-off, Dokapon Kindgom.
In case you haven’t been following the Mario Party series, the games have been getting rather stale lately. Hoping to create an experience like no other, Atlus has decided to bring Dokapon Kingdom stateside. Trust me, Atlus’ take on the board-game genre is a lot more enjoyable than Nintendo’s.
Unlike many party games, Dokapon Kingdom doesn’t centre its gameplay on minigames, but rather fuses the party genre with the role-playing genre to create an experience like no other. Though the game doesn’t have IR support or motion control, it still feels like a perfect fit on the Wii. It's also worth pointing out that the game supports 480p and 16:9, something that the PS2 version lacks.
Dokapon Kingdom is played entirely on one single enormous board in which four players can go head-to-head to compete for bragging rights. Following in the Mario Party series footsteps, the game boasts just enough chance through dice and spinners to make it feel balanced, something that recent Mario Party games execute very poorly. The implementing of this gives the game a sort of casual feel by that there is a slim chance that a veteran may be beaten by a first-time player.
Outside of the 'party' section of the game, Dokapon Kingdom plays similar to a role-playing title in which players select a character and class for him/her before embarking on a great journey in which the king deals out objectives that must be completed. Each turn will have players casting spells, using items, spinning a spinner, travelling the allotted number of turns spun, and so on.
Scattered across the massive overworld are spaces for characters to land on after they have spun the spinner. These spaces can either benefit or harm the player. Some will give you cash and items whereas others will force you into a battle. In these events players can either attack or defend, and if the battle is not over after your turn, it is halted and resumed after the remaining three players have made their move.
Dokapon Kingdom certainly isn’t perfect, nor does it even come close. The graphics and audio are lacking in areas, and interface is just barely above par. Brown boxes are married to simple text in terms of presentation and the textures to rather blocky. Despite this, Dokapon Kingdom is still enjoyable; the customization aspect of the game separates it from other generic party games and gives it a welcome feeling of depth.
What many expected to be a rip-off of the Mario Party franchise has actually turned out to be a very fresh and strategic party game. It is a shame that this release will most likely be met with public indifference and poor sales, but at the end of the day it remains one of the best role-playing games on Wii - despite not actually being one! For those anxiously awaiting epic entries in other blockbuster franchises, Dokapon Kingdom may just be able to fill a gap and satisfy your appetite.