GamingReview: DOKAPON KiNGDOM CONNECT

Review: DOKAPON KiNGDOM CONNECT

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Often in the entertainment industry, a creative mind will attempt to blend two or more existing genres in an attempt to either create something new or subvert the genre as a whole. Such attempts either catch fire or go up in flames, two phrases meaning the same thing but also different things, English, eh?

Dokapon Kingdom Connect is very much the latter for me, but then I can question whether it was ever meant for me.

The original Dokapon Kingdom game was released in 2007/08 depending on which side of the Pacific you lived on. Developed by Sting, who interestingly attempted a The Jetsons platformer in the mid-90s, and published by Atlus for Western audiences. Personally, I think they should know better having developed one of my favourite games of all time in Persona 5.

I’m as shocked as you are, The King

Dokapon Kingdom attempts to bridge the gap between board games and RPGs in a way that I never considered, so I guess kudos to them for their ingenuity. Players can choose from a variety of rainbow-inspired heroes, assigning them jobs (classes), equipping them with gear, and using skill points to increase their attributes, all the while moving around a board that has you fighting enemies, spinning spinners for moves, items, gold etc. All in all, imagine an RPG on tracks.

The problem isn’t with the idea, it’s with the execution for me. Any blend of two genres should look to highlight the strengths of each whilst masking any weaknesses. In short, the product should be greater than the components, otherwise, what was the point? For me, Dokapon Kingdom fails in this regard.

The most famous example of a party board game style video game is likely Mario Party, whichever version you have an affinity for. The strength of that series is in the memorable characters, strong aesthetics and audio and entertaining mini-games. Dokapon Kingdom does not compare well, the audio is honestly just annoying, and the mini-games have been replaced by stilted turn-based combat from the RPG side of the equation. As for your characters, they’re just palette-swapped versions of each other regardless of which hat they wear.

You can be a green wizard, or a blue wizard, or a red wiz…

As for RPGs, there are thousands of examples to choose from and varying styles within the genre. None of them are well represented here. Having equipable items, a levelling up system and turn-based combat does not an RPG make. But that seems to be all that is on offer here. Maybe I’m expecting too much of what on the surface seems like a game for children, but then I question whether a remake of a game that might have only sold 200k copies is a good idea in the first place, whether it strikes a new audience or not.

I should mention other elements of the game as I’m in danger of being too negative so far. The game comes with the option to play multiplayer as well as single-player games against AIs with variable skill levels. There is a story mode in addition to the classic jump-in-and-play mode, although once again the depth of which had me questioning why they bothered at all. Basically, save a kingdom from monsters, marry the Princess (it’s a knockoff Peach) and live happily ever after.

That was too negative again, wasn’t it?

Capitalism is rampant in Dokapon Kingdom it seems…

In summary, the game prides itself on ditching shallow party game gameplay but never considers that the reason those games are well-loved is due to the “shallow” nature of the gameplay. No one wants to spend an hour explaining all the nuances of a game in the middle of a party. I believe the term for that would be “party pooper”.

In short, its attempt to be a party game is poorly executed as it sneers at the things that make party games fun: quick games, easy to understand, no cumbersome mechanics, a well-known cast, and creative worlds. Instead, Dokapon Kingdom Connect misses the mark in my opinion on pretty much all of these, too caught up in its attempt to be an RPG.

SUMMARY

+Variety of game modes
-Combat takes too long
-Characters are unlikeable due to voice cast
-Gameplay is neither fun nor rewarding
(Review on Nintendo Switch, as of time of writing not available on other platforms)
Damien Gorman
Damien Gorman
Been gaming casually for many a year. As long as I don't have to directly compete against other people I'm in. Big fan of JRPGs, platformers, and action/adventures. Will play games on easy mode if you let me
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+Variety of game modes <br/> -Combat takes too long <br/> -Characters are unlikeable due to voice cast <br/> -Gameplay is neither fun nor rewarding <br/> (Review on Nintendo Switch, as of time of writing not available on other platforms)Review: DOKAPON KiNGDOM CONNECT