Boing! Docomodake Review - 16/10/2008

It is tempting to use the words ‘charming’, ‘innocent’ and even ‘disarming’ to describe Ignition Entertainment’s crack at harnessing the unique features of the DS to deliver a similarly original and quirky Japanese puzzle/platformer.


But since like-minded developers cottoned onto the fact that treating the DS consumers as naive children (which, in all fairness, most are) and the critic as non-existent will virtually guarantee sales regardless, such words can only apply to the packaging. Which is quite nice.

This is part of the reason you wouldn’t find Boing! anywhere else but the DS. Dress the game up nicely enough, Nintendo’s core ethos at the mo seems to be, and no-one will notice what a mess the gameplay is. To be fair, this game is not a mess; it’s merely lazy. Granted, the colourful Japanese dream-logic design combines with more western influences such as Kirby and Braid to create wistfully appealing levels, but the core game mechanic is anything but a romantic love affair.

The box-art is by far the highlight.


The deal is, you are a giant mushroom head called a Docomodake (anyone who still isn’t questioning the sanity of Japanese people can leave now) –think Vileploom from the Pokémon games with a hint of Moomins thrown in. It's festival time, reads the epilogue, and your Docomodake wife and Docomodake children are nowhere to be found (though no word yet on the Docomodake uncle who was done for domestic abuse). To get them back you’ll quest through 5 areas using the stylus to fling your little mushroom heads in the air, (hence the ‘Boing!’) positioning them as living platforms which you can bounce on to reach gold coins and treasure chests for no other reason than they are on the right of the screen and this is a side-scroller.

There are a decent variety of moves, such as a Yoshi’s Island-inspired ability to launch your mini-Docomodake’s like mushroom-headed-missiles, but they all become tired rather quickly. Instead of analysing a puzzle and figuring out the best way to overcome it, or using platforming skill to out-manoeuvre the various giant wasps and natty spiders, you’ll merely see that the game wants you to use its mechanic and think ‘great, here we go again’. You know when light shines on your DS at just the right angle and you get a screen full of your own face? Well this happened to me while play this game. The face looking back at me was not smiling.

The game is ultimately too short and too simple to keep most gamers' interest.


The core mechanic isn’t particularly strange when compared to the more ultimo-insane Japanese concepts seen in Beautiful Katamari or Mosquito, it’s just handled badly, each area hampered by woefully brief levels and an unclear interface. The relative simplicity of completing each level is exacerbated by their ridiculously restricted, even lazy, design. When a typical level requires less than a minute of time and an even smaller portion of brain to complete, friendly and engaging box art can’t save it.

Maybe I’m being too harsh; maybe phrases such as ‘unclear interface’ should not apply to a title so obviously aimed at minors; maybe criticism of Nintendo’s business ethos does not belong in a review of a videogame, but, speaking as a gamer, I finished the title seriously unconvinced that Boing! Docomodake wasn’t an extremely dull and shallow game wrapped up in consumer-friendly cutesy Japanese charm.

- Ben P Griffin

   

Design is typically bold and appealing.

 
   

You can play it on the toilet. Just resist the urge to...you know.

 
   
Short, tedious, dull.
 
   

Revolves around a single, shallow, premise.

 
   

So unchallenging an undeveloped foetus could complete it before it left the womb.

 

5

   
     

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