When we first looked at Dokapon Kingdom, we were impressed with its innovative multiplayer RPG concept. Being an RPG player can admittedly get lonely, so anything that brings role-playing fans together for a competitive adventure has to be a step in the right direction, right? Although we desperately wanted to root for this game, it unfortunately fails to live up to its potential in almost every aspect.
Played across a board-game-style overmap, up to four players compete to capture towns and complete quests in order to earn more money than anyone else. The main story mode is nearly unplayable, for varying reasons depending on how many people are playing. With only two players competing, the game quickly becomes completely unbalanced, because once one player gets a leg up on the other it’s all too easy for the player with higher stats and more resources to use the lead to widen the gap. With three or four players, maintaining balance is easier because everyone can gang up on whomever is in the lead, but the trade off is excessively long waiting between turns for everyone involved.
Sure, it’s a board game and taking turns is necessary, but what makes it a real problem is that players rarely get a chance to engage each other in combat. Instead, most turns are expended battling random monsters, visiting item and weapon shops, and landing on random event squares that are kind of like landing on Chance or Community Chest in Monopoly. While it may be a competition in the big picture, it often doesn’t feel like one since the majority of the gameplay doesn’t involve direct interaction between players.
Above: Battles are simple rock-paper-scissors-style matches that mostly boil down to luck
If you’re still dead-set on inflicting this game on your friends, the Battle Royale modes are your best option. With shorter play times and specific goals, like racing to capture a specific town or trying to rack up as many kills as possible in a certain amount of time, these modes are where Dokapon’s format works best. Even still, you’ll soon grow tired of spending most of your time waiting for your turn, and then feeling disappointed when you realize your turns aren’t really worth waiting for to begin with. It’s almost heartbreaking how much wasted potential there is here, and lonely RPG fans are better off playing Tales of Vesperia co-op until a better competitive option comes around.
Oct 21, 2008