Behind Boing! Docomodake's seemingly incomprehensible title is a perhaps even stranger bit of context. See, the Docomodake in question is not only an anthropomorphic, puzzle-solving mushroom, but also the mascot for Japanese cell-phone provider NTT docomo. We could go on and on about how much we would rather see a cute animated 'shroom hawking cell phones than ever again spot the "Verizon guy," but we must first address this question: What on earth is a Japan-only mobile mascot doing in a North American video game?
Well, he's starring in a fun, clever little puzzle-platformer for Nintendo DS – and despite the odd back-story, you won't be hunting down lost phones or restoring service to angry customers. No, Boing! Docomodake's world is entirely self-contained and free from its commercial origins, spotlighting your protagonist Papa Docomodake and his quest to reunite his family. To do so, you must traverse through more than 50 puzzle-solving stages, splitting off smaller versions of yourself to complete certain tasks.
Such a feature may seem ripped straight from the LocoRoco series, but in Boing! Docomodake, you control each individual fungi with your stylus, placing them as needed to activate switches, create platforms, and form ladders for Papa to climb. You can even roll them up into balls to fling at enemies or drop several into special pots to trigger switches.
Though you'll start with only a handful of "minis," you'll find yourself with more than a dozen by the end of the game, which corresponds with the progressively advanced level designs you'll encounter later on. Papa himself is controlled with either the d-pad or face buttons, but the combination of stylus and button controls never seemed uncomfortable or ill designed to us, especially due to the slow pace of the adventure.
Boing! Docomodake is rarely a challenging experience, though the trial-and-error gameplay means you'll occasionally get stuck somewhere or lose a couple necessary minis and need to restart the stage. Docomodake doesn't really dig deep into narrative, either, and wouldn't stand out in our minds as one of the flashier offerings on the DS. But despite the straightforward approach and lack of truly brain-taxing scenarios, Boing! Docomodake remains an entirely pleasant and enjoyable experience for as long as it lasts (about five or six hours). It's unlikely to draw attention away from better-known DS offerings, but at a $20 budget price, Docomodake is a very good pick for those who like to keep their puzzle-tinged platforming simple.
Mar 26, 2009