Docomodake began as a marketing character, mascot if you will, of the Japanese cellular phone company NTT DoCoMo. He’s quite the icon in Japan and has become the first family of fungus. Now Docomodake and his family of mushrooms have invaded North America. A quirky, but cute platform game, Boing! Docomodake DS takes Papa Docomo and sends him on a journey to find the lost members of his family, who for some mysterious reason have all gone missing. You will use your Docomo to climb, dig, and roll around various stages all while transforming into mini Docomo’s or back into his larger and normal self. Honestly, could this be anymore Japanese? Short answer is no. The rest of this review will serve as the longer answer to this intriguing and often asked question.
Docomodake is a simple game in many respects; visually being one of those. A simple quality helps bring more of the focus to the gameplay rather that wowing you with distracting visuals and cut-scenes. Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, some of the simplest games are the most effective and most memorable. The developers wanted to put a greater emphasis on the other aspects of the game rather than trying to make this the biggest, baddest, pixel pushing title on the DS and really who can blame them? You’ve got ladders, vines, walkways and caves, it’s not rocket science. It’s just got to get the job done, and that they do. Part of the charm of Docomo is in his simplicity. Get through each level from entrance to exit in one piece, or many pieces if you prefer, as long as you get there.
The music in Boing! Docomodake DS is happy and simple. You’re a mushroom, and you’re looking for your family. There’s no real conspiracy, no super villain has marked you for death. It’s just a simple platformer with a mushroom on a mission. You know, everyday type stuff. The music and sound effects help convey the simplicity of it all and they work just fine. Nothing too spectacular or tear inducing, you certainly won’t be hearing this at one of those symphonic concerts that play video game music. To the credit of the developers they at least made an effort to give you some variation, unlike so many other games that would be more than content to give you one song for 25 levels that by the third level would be grating and annoying to no end. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and it goes great with mushrooms.
The gameplay in Docomodake is where the charm of the game really takes a big leap forward. As Docomo you can transform from a larger version into several mini’s to get through smaller spaces to access treasure, coins, switches or other objects. You can even roll up your mini’s to use as projectiles to fire at bugs that block your path. Just make sure that you recover your mini or they will die. Lose all your minis and your game will end. You can also use your minis as a sort of ’shroom ladder; if you stack them one on top of another you can climb them to get to higher points. The further you progress the more minis you will have at your disposal to reach higher points or just spread around the stage. These are only a few examples of what your little magic mushroom can do with his powers. You will use both the directional pad as well as the touchscreen to control your Docomo character and his miniature clones. It’s pretty cool and nothing here is exactly difficult to the point of frustration. Controls were fine and with a few exceptions on occasion, were responsive and easy to grasp to the point where even my four year old son could navigate himself through them. These are simple levels that should only take a handful of minutes to complete. Part puzzle and part platformer Docomo is kind of a throwback to the times when gaming was simpler and involved a little bit of thinking instead of being “twitch” like so many games are these days.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The simpler games can be a double edged sword. On the one hand this is instant pick up and play once you’ve figured out what to do. You can play one stage and put the game away, or you can play for an hour or two. On the other hand after about an hour or two, you’ll find yourself pretty much done with the game, or at least a good ways through. Yes, the game is fairly short. You might think there’s replay value if you want to purchase things like cut-scenes and the like in the store with all the coins you scrounge up throughout the levels, but I didn’t feel that way. To me it felt like viewing the level introductions once was more than enough because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what they were trying to get across, it felt more like haiku and less like a fully fleshed story. Luckily, the platforming does a decent job of correcting this and while the game isn’t frustrating there are some points where you will need to restart because you pushed a block too far or didn’t leave minis behind to hold down a lever. So, the game isn’t entirely a cakewalk, there is some challenge involved just not at the level that one might hope for from a game. This is probably something a little better for casual or beginning gamers. The challenge provided probably isn’t enough to satiate the advanced gamer’s needs for difficulty.
Boing! Docomodake DS is quirky enough that fans of Docomo will enjoy. Some people just can’t get enough of this lovable mushroom. Fans of platformers will find some challenge, though the brevity of the game may just be a turn off for many. Perhaps a good title for beginners, Docomodake, is fun and better than most “mascot” platformers out on the DS and worthy of some purchase consideration as long as you know what you’re in for; a game with a bizarre story and main character, but some fairly novel mechanics. Perfect for a casual pick up and play and safe for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.