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Dokapon Kingdom
Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Sting
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: RPG/ Party

Graphics & Sound:
Dokapon Kingdom is the very definition of a game that isn't for everyone. If the whimsical cover or overly Japanese style of... well, everything doesn't look like it will grab your attention, it is probably best to go with your gut. However, if these things do sound appealing, or you're looking for a fun game to play with your family, you might like what Dokapon Kingdom has to offer.

Dokapon Kingdom has a look and sound all its own which, depending on your outlook, can be good or bad. On the bright side, the presentation matches what the game is trying to accomplish. Although the story shares some similarities with King Lear, it doesn't take itself too seriously and enjoys its Japanese niche quirkiness. At the same time, the graphics are PSOne quality and leave something to be desired on the technical side. The music, while fitting, can grate on your nerves if you let it.

In many ways, Dokapon Kingdom follows the same layout as most party games. Players take turns moving around a board game style map and competitive mini-games; only the mini-games are now RPG-style fights. Each turn, players spin a six-digit dial that determines how many spaces they can move each turn. Like most board games, the board is extremely linear. However, maps are pretty big and you're allowed to advance down paths however you like. Even though you are forced to move the number of spaces shown on the dial, you can hover around certain areas until a specific number comes up. Essentially, it's the same as trying for that last pie piece in Trivial Pursuit.

If you land on a space occupied by a monster or, better yet another player, the game enters a very simple turn-based combat mode. Other spaces contain items, weapons and armor for your character. If you're lucky enough to land on one of these spaces, you have a chance at acquiring a new item depending on where the item spinner stops. Certain spaces also contain a shop where you can purchase new items as well.

The core premise behind Dokapon Kingdom is simple and easy to understand. Roll the die, move that many spaces and perform an action if you land on a special spot. However, nearly everything about the game is left to chance. While this is somewhat expected considering the genres the game merges, it is enough to frustrate some players.

At the start of each battle, two cards come up; one of these determines who gets the first blow in battle. The system works a little better when you have other humans to play with since the A.I. has the gambler's luck and always seems to get the first attack. Early on, the first guy to attack is usually the winner, though once you gain a level or two you can withstand the initial attack. Of course, in order to level up you need to defeat enemies, once again placing you in an awkward position.

Game Mechanics:
Except for more random actions, the battle system is fun and easy to understand. Each round, the attacker can choose from four attacks: two physical, two magical. Meanwhile, the defender can choose to block the attack, counter, or use a special attack. At first, the system looks like it might play out like a slightly more complicated version of Rock-Paper-Scissors, though it is governed by the same random nature found in other elements. Attacks can miss and even if you are able to block an attack, it can still get through. With so many random elements in play, there's a possibility that battles could go on for some time. In order to keep this from happening, battles are limited to two turns. If a victor isn't decided by the end of the second turn, it stops and the game moves on to the next player.

Like I said before, Dokapon Kingdom is a game with a very specific audience in mind. It isn't for everyone, and that's okay. If Dokapon Kingdom sounds appealing, it is important to note that you will want other people to play with. Although you can play with A.I. bots, the randomness can grow tiresome and, without people to joke around with, it can get frustrating.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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