What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a game in which you play as the mascot of a Japanese cell phone company. But this consumerism won't be apparent to kids in the U.S. While this game looks like a cute kids' game that's simple to play, certain levels can be somewhat maddening. Some children will love the challenge. Others may be frustrated.
What's it about?
Docomodake is the cute, very recognizable mascot for the Japan's huge mobile phone operator, NTT Docomo. Thankfully, we don't know him as a marketing tool here in the U.S., rather he is just as a cuddly new game character. In BOING! DOCOMODAKE, you control Papa, a huge, colorful mushroom, on his adventurous quest through verdant environments to find his missing family members. Papa wants to find his brood in time to enjoy the annual village festival.
The game mixes use of the DS touch screen with the D-pad and buttons. Although the tutorial is confusing, you basically move Docomodake through short levels full of climbing, jumping, flipping switches, and searching for treasure. You're graded at the end of each level, which also records the speed in which you finish it. The game's unique feature is that the fat fungi slims down and splits into many other fungi, enabling you to use them as platforms on which to jump and as bridges. Tap the big guy repeatedly to release a number of little ones. To bring them back into Docomodake, tap the hand above his head twice. But if a mini Docomodake is away from its host for over 10 seconds, it will faint.
Is it any good?
What's charming about the game is its youth-oriented artwork, it's hopeful soundtrack (albeit repetitive), and some enjoyable platform action. While kids will only spend about 10 hours to finish Boing! Docomodake, the game can be a pleasure, especially when you use some of the coins you collect to unlock songs and artwork. Yet playing is not a delight from the get-go.
Unfortunately Boing! Docomodake lacks a proper in-game tutorial. What's present is a confusing mish-mosh of Powerpoint-like directions which barely give you an idea of how to use the touch screen and the various mini Docomodake. Even the manual's tutorial is confusing. You'll get the idea after a while of playing by yourself. But many may be frustrated before the game even begins. Sometimes, tapping Docomodake does not result in the release of minis. Plus, once you do start up, some of the levels can be very difficult for a child or even an adult to get through. That's too bad because the $19.99 price is alluring, especially because U.S. audiences don't know Docomodake is a marketing tool. Just be prepared for a learning curve.
Families can talk about...
Parents can talk about why would a company make a game featuring the mascot of a Japanese cell phone company? What it would be like to live in Docomodake's world. Who is your favorite Docomodake family character, Mama, Papa or the shy Junior High Docomodake? Do you like playing as a mushroom? Why or why not?