Boing! Docomodake - hands-on

Games based on company mascots are rarely any good, but Boing! Docomodake (based on Japanese cell phone company NTT Docomo’s mascot) may not be half bad. Assuming the role of Papa Docomodake, a gentle mushroom on a mission, you traverse various platformy puzzle stages to save your fungal family. With muted, natural colors and a beady-eyed, thin-mouthed protagonist, the overall look isn’t as obnoxiously bright and cute as you might expect, which is a plus. And it helps that we’re partial to mushrooms - they’re so succulent and nutritious.

Papa Docomodake has one special power – he can form mini mushrooms out of his own sweet mushroomy flesh. Tap him with the stylus and a mini mushroom will burst forth to do your bidding – you can create up to four mini mushrooms at a time in addition to Papa. Your total mass is finite, so every time you separate a smaller mushroom, Papa’s main mushroom gets a bit smaller.

This mushroom-separating mechanic forms the core of Docomodake’s platforming puzzles. Separate all your mushrooms out to shrink small enough to squeeze through tight spots, build ladders with chains of smaller mushrooms, or use them to bridge gaps too large to jump across on your own. With a double tap of the stylus you can also turn mushrooms into throwing weapons and launch them at enemies. Like any good platformer, there are many perils, so you have to be careful of your mushroom spawn, as they can easily get hurt and die. Most tricky spots have healing points where your fallen mushmen can rejoin the group, making most levels fairly easy to get through on the first try.

Docomodake seems a bit on the short side, but the grading system (based on finish time and coins collected) for each level might add a bit of replayability if you’re in to competing with yourself for better scores. Check back for our final grade when Boing! Docomodake ships to the USin March 2009.

Dec 1, 2008