It seems like these days you need to combine genres to set your game apart from the other titles out there. Most often, it seems like a game will try to add an RPG element to any genre. You have shooters with an RPG element. You have Puzzle Quest that mixes a puzzle game with an RPG. Several strategy games have heavy RPG elements. You could even say that the Rock Band games have an RPG element because you gain money and earn fans to get more stuff like clothes and instruments. There are only a couple of games, such as the Culdcept titles, that mix a board game with an RPG element. Now Sting and Atlus are trying to expand that genre with Dokapon Journey.
The story of Dokapon Kingdom sounds like any other typical RPG. Dokapon was safe because the Dokapon Orb protected the land. Everyone made money, which made everyone in Dokapon very happy. Then monsters started appearing all around Dokapon. New heroes were called out to find out what happened to the Dokapon Orb, and make a little cash on the side in the process.
When you start playing, you need to choose the your color and the job you have. Some of the eight jobs available are fairly typical like Fighter, Spy, and Mage. Others are less typical like Paladin, Spy, Amazon, and Valkyrie. Each job does have different abilities and statistics, so your beginning class will influence how you play the game. You can also assign the CPU players and the intelligence of the AI.
During the game you travel around Dokapon. You spin to determine how many spaces you move. You can move across the board any way you want as long as you use all of the moves available to you. Where you land will determine what you can do. Loot spaces have chests that open up and you can gain spells or items. Buying and selling items can be done at shops. You need those items to equip yourself for battle. They can be weapons, magic, and other items.
When you land on an empty area or a town with a monster, you go into battle. When you start battle two cards appear on the bottom screen. One says
Defeating a monster gives you money and experience. Gaining enough experience makes your character level up. Your hit points are completely restored and you get to assign points to your character. These can go to your attack, defense, magic, and skill points. You can also allocate points to increase your hit points. The job you have will help determine where you want to move your points to, but it does allow you to customize your character a bit.
You may not necessarily fight monsters. The other players are on the same board as you are, so you might end up occupying the same spot. If you defeat another player you get the option to steal one of their items. This can turn the tide of power, especially if you are able to get another player’s powerful weapon.
If you save a city from a monster, then they become loyal to you. Often times they will give you money as a reward. You can also donate money to the town and it will increase a town’s value, which will increase your total worth. This is important as the weekly report shows you what your worth is and determines your standing.
When you die, you either go back to the original starting castle or the most recently visited church on the board. You will stay there for one to three turns. When this happened, all you basically do for your turn is wait for you turn to come after watching everyone else’s turn go by. This waiting is boring, especially when all you do is hit the
There are three modes to play. The Story Mode has eight different chapters where you need to complete a task to move on to the next chapter. The Greed Mode lets you set a specific number of weeks to play the game and the person with the highest worth wins. In the Battle Mode you can either fight for the most towns, collect the most orbs on the board, or getting the highest number of kills. If you don’t have a set number of weeks to play, the game can drag out. I would highly recommend playing one of the non-story modes first to get used to the game mechanics.
If you think that since this game is an RPG you might get something gritty, you’d be wrong. Dokapon Journey is dripping with anime cuteness. Even the evil monsters that populate the board have a level of adorableness. If that kind of thing turns you off, stay far away from this title.
The music is serviceable, but it loops constantly. About the only time I can remember the music changing is when a character leveled up. If you plan on doing a marathon session, you might want to turn down the volume on the DS.
Dokapon Journey does have multiplayer available. If every person has a cart, then it can accomidate four players. Even if you don’t have multiple copies of the game, you can play with up to four players off of one cartridge. Some of the player options won’t be available in the single cartridge mode, but it is still a nice bonus that you can play with four players on a single cartridge.