Boing! Docomodake DS Review: Fun With Shrooms
It’s not often that mushrooms get to star in their own game. The fungi tend to play second fiddle to other characters, most often mustachioed plumbers. Ignition’s latest DS title, “Boing Docomodake DS” actually has very little to do with saving a princess, but that’s about all that has in common with Mario. It’s actually a bit more in line with the recently released “Mushroom Men,” since you play as a mushroom on a quest to save its family. However, this unique puzzle-platformer takes a refreshing approach to navigating levels and stylus based gameplay, that set it apart from, not only Mario’s games, but most games on the market as well. What more would you expect for a Japanese telecom mascot?
That’s right, the mushroom star of “Boing Docomodake DS” is Ntt DoCoMo Inc.’s (Japan’s predominant mobile phone operator) mascot, and no matter how you look at it, it’s an unlikely character for its own game, especially one to get localized for U.S. release. It doesn’t matter; you don’t have to care about corporate synergy to appreciate the fun that is to be had on creative DS title. After all, similar synergy has brought us such great horrible games like “Cool Spot,” “Chester Cheetah’s Wild Quest,” and “Chase the Chuck Wagon.” While most of those games may have left a lot to be desired in terms of gameplay and overall enjoyment, “Boing Docomodake” manages to actually be a fun game. So, just sit back, relax, and let the shooms do the work.
The central gameplay mechanic in “Docomodake” involves essentially multiplying the main character, Papa Docomodake, by using the stylus to pull Mini Me-esque smaller mushrooms out of your body to assist with navigating the levels, and ultimately saving your family. These mini-mushrooms can be used as stackable ladders, projectiles to throw at enemies, or stable platforms that allow you to jump from one level to another. Overall, they’re quite handy, and not in a Michael Keaton Multiplicity kinda way either. You have a limited number of mini-mushrooms that you can use, and as you pull them out of you’re your fungal body, you start to get smaller, which I actually a requirement in smoe parts of the gaem because a lot of the paths are only passable as a tiny Docomodake. That’s pretty much the entire game – you use smaller versions of yourself to make it through the levels, a little creepy but creative nonetheless.
The level design, controls, and overall concept are very well thought out, and constructed quite well for the DS. You can essentially play the game with one hand on the controls and one on the stylus, as you’ll need to be able to control the tiny Docomos as readily as possible. Suited for either left, or right handed controls, you only need to be able to move Papa left, right, or make him jump or dig; all of which can be done on the D-pad, or face buttons. It’s really simple to control, but the challenge comes with what you decide to do with the minis.
The level design is well crafted, taking into consideration unique ways to get from point A to point B using the minis to help you along the way. While it’s not the first puzzle-platformer to encourage the player to use some kind of building blocks, it is one of the best on the DS, making smart use of the touch screen, as well as the game’s mechanics. Plus, how many of those other games let you play as an awesome corporate mushroom?
While it is a fun game that handles itself quite well, I did find one rather annoying flaw with the game. (Actually there were two, but I’m not going to hold an in-game typo against a good game.) Maybe I’ve become a bit too accustomed to video games holding my hand more, but some of the puzzles in the game resulted in a complete dead end. If I rushed through a part of a level, I occasionally found myself stuck, with no way of getting out of the hole I had dug for myself. This usually happened because I didn’t leave myself an escape route, using my minis to keep weighted platforms lowered, but it was still annoying to have to do the entire level over again because of one tiny mistake. At the same time, it is a puzzle game, and I absolutely didn’t make the same mistake on my second run-through, so it’s forgivable, just beware.
Simply put, there’s absolutely no reason why this game got localized, aside from the fact that it’s actually fun to play, so that should speak volumes. Ntt DoCoMo aren’t going to win over any customers by putting “Boing Docomodake DS” in the hands of Americans, it just doesn’t make any sense. Do yourself, and the game’s stateside publisher Ignition, a favor and give “Docomodake” a shot, after all, at the budget price of $20, you’ll get your money’s worth out of this title. Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen from playing with mushrooms?
“Boing! Docomodake DS” was released on March 10th, for the Nintendo DS.