Charming, simple, and oh-so-much fun
I have to admit that the first time I saw Boing! Docomodake I was completely taken in by the quaint charm and overabundance of adorableness that surrounded it. Then I learned that the main character was based off of a mascot for a cellular phone company in Japan (NTT Docomo). Obviously, I was instantly worried about what the actual quality of the game would be given that fact. Unfortunately for me, it was too late to back out as I had already reserved the review and it was en route to my mailbox.
I am happy to report that all my worries were completely tossed aside the moment I began playing it. In fact, I would say it was the best six hours of play I have enjoyed on DS in a while. There aren't any words to describe the simplistic charm and endearing nature of Boing! Docomodake. It uses basic platforming and a wide variety of obstacles to create a fun and original game with endearing characters and intriguing puzzles. This charming tale emphasizes the importance of family and is a welcome addition to a genre that is sadly disappearing.
Papa Docomodake, the protagonist of the tale, is in search of his family members that have mysteriously gone missing. Each family member set off to a specific location searching for something and sadly found themselves the victim of misfortune. Now Papa must scour different areas of their world in order to rescue every member before the annual festival begins. After all, they're family.
There are a total of seven areas for players to explore and each area is designed as a chapter in a storybook containing a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue explains the missing family member's tale of woe, detailing how they ended up in such an unfortunate situation. It then concludes with an upbeat little jingle and a confused narrator asking the players "Now where could they be?" Each area consists of eight different levels that transition automatically into one another. Progress is saved whenever a player leaves a level, so they can continue at a later time.
The one element that truly separates Boing! Docomodake from other puzzle-platformers is Papa Docomodake's ability to separate into multiple mini-docomodakes. These minis are used to kill enemies, create ladders, and overcome a wide variety of obstacles that attempt to slow players down. Some of the obstacles include switches, cannons, blocks, rebounding walls, and warps. The game is made in a way that players must perform the proper actions in the proper places or else the level may be unable to be completed.
Some of the more interesting tasks require players rationing the use of minis. In one instance I had to leave a mini on a switch, some others inside of a cannon, and save some others to build a ladder to reach the finish line. Other instances will require players to squeeze into small areas by emptying Papa of all his minis or call for Papa to be larger in order to move heavy blocks. Players should always remember to keep at least one extra mini in Papa, because if he takes damage with none, it is back to the beginning.
Each level in Boing! Docomodake features a slew of collectables including coins and chests. The chests are usually filled with coins, which are later used to unlock bonus material, such as music in the Docomodake House. During later levels, chests will begin to contain an extra mini-docomodake that is crucial to successful completion of the game. In order to achieve the highest ranking,"S", players must complete the level as quickly as possible.
Boing! Docomodake requires players to use touch-based and traditional controls cooperatively to achieve their goals. Movement is controlled by the D-Pad and jumping can be done by pressing up on the D-Pad or pushing X. Players control the minis movement with the stylus; this includes stacking, throwing, and removing them one-by-one from Papa Docomodake. Cooperation between button pressing and stylus controls may seem awkward at first, but after some time, it's incredibly fluid. The only time controls become a bit frustrating are in close quarters, as it is incredibly easy to accidentally redeposit minis into Papa while trying to stack them instead.
The music within Boing! Docomodake may not be the most memorable, but it is definitely worth mentioning as it has a profound effect on mood throughout the game. If it's possible for sound to provoke a feeling of cuteness, this game has achieved that status. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to keep from moving your head from side to side in tempo with the bouncy music. At the end of every level, players hear a little jingle that simply goes "Doco, Doco, Docomodake." Believe me when I say that these three words will be stuck in your head long after the game is finished.
The game's charm is also carried into its graphical presentation. Featuring colorful 2D sprites on bright and cheery backdrops, the game world isn't the most detailed, but it is beautiful in its own right.
Every inch of this game just screams adorable and sometimes it's just too much to take…in a good way, of course. In fact, there's little bad to say about Boing! Docomodake; the entire experience is incredibly enjoyable from beginning to end. Good puzzle-platformers are few and far between these days and it is refreshing to have the opportunity to play one. While it may not be the most challenging or immersive title available, it is fun in its simplest form. With its budget price, no gamer should let this absolutely charming game pass them by.