By Spencer . January 4, 2008 . 8:42pm
If I learned one thing from Super Mario Brothers it’s jumping solves most of life's problems. If I chose a second lesson it would be never under estimate the power of mushrooms. Docomodake is a mushroom. Perhaps, he is the most recognizable mushroom in Japan. As NTT DoCoMo’s mascot, Docomodake is dangling from cell phones everywhere. And thanks to AQ Interactive, he’s on your Nintendo DS too. No, I’m not talking about a Docomodake screen cleaner. I’m talking about Pororon! Docomodake DS, a retail video game.
My first question when I played the game is probably the same as yours, what in the world do you do in it? Do you play a vengeful fungus who violently converts Softbank and KDDI users to the DoCoMo side? Nah, the DoCoMo connection is nil, minus the fact that Docomodake is the belle of the ball. In his time off from the job Docomodake hangs out in a 2D forest collecting coins and that is primarily what you do in Pororon! Docomodake DS. You move the mushroom around with the D-pad. The up button makes him jump. Tapping left or right makes him do a horizontal dodge roll. Cute, but these tricks aren’t going to help the plump mushroom pass through tiny passages.
Docomodake’s true “powers” are controlled with the stylus. Each time you tap him a smaller mushroom comes out sort of like how a giant LocoRoco breaks into pieces. However, only a single mushroom comes out each time you tap on Docomodake. You start out with a maximum of five mushrooms, but you can find more in chests. Once you release the mushrooms he can pass through crawl spaces. You can also drag, drop and stack the mushrooms to make an impromptu ladder. You’ll need to do this often because treasure chests and coins are often placed out of jumping reach. The mini-shrooms can also be placed in dashed squares and act as makeshift floating platforms. Instead of automatically following Docomodake around you can drag and drop the mushrooms on the screen. Through narrow passages, through doors, anywhere and at times this makes Docomodake feel like a light brain teaser..
And if you tap the tiny mushrooms they turn over so Docomodake can throw them at his greatest foe, flying bees. Once you grab a mushroom you draw its flight path with the stylus. Bees arc downwards slowly, very, very slowly to give players time to draw to sting Docomodake. If the visual cue wasn’t enough a buzzer informs players they are in a life or death situation. If you don’t use the dodge roll to evade the sting a mushroom pops out of Docomodake. You need to drag it towards Docomodake before ten seconds pass to absorb it.
The concept isn’t adrenaline pumping, but it isn’t boring either. Pororon! Docomodake DS has a sense of charm in its level design, retro NES action/platformer charm. You can easily walk through the levels stress free. You can even avoid grabbing the coins and just find a path to the goal. If you want a relaxing experience you can play Pororo! Docomodake DS at your own pace. However, if you want a challenge you can race against time and see how fast you can snag all the treasure.
Don’t forget Docomodake DS is designed as a portable game with short burst of play in mind. On your lunch break you can breeze through a few levels while eating a sandwich since most of the game can be controlled with one hand. As a note to all the left handed gamers out there you can use the D-pad or the face buttons to move Docomodake around. The downside with the short play style is you’re not going to be glued to Docomodake DS during a thirteen hour plane ride. Fair deal because Pororon! Docomodake DS works is well suited for a subway trip.