By Spencer . September 16, 2008 . 9:05am
Dokapon Kingdom is the Rock Band equivalent of turn based RPG genre, it’s the kind of game best experienced with friends and a load of fun in a group. While Dokapon Kingdom looks like a cousin of Mario Party it does not have any mini-games. Spaces on the board game map represent items given off by a spinner, random events, or combat. Yes, combat. Dokapon Kingdom has turn based combat where two players duke it out to the death.
You start battles by picking a card to determine who attacks first. Usually, this means you have a 50-50 shot at a first strike, but there are items that can make the cards transparent and tip the scales towards one player. When the battle begins time freezes. The attacker and defender can secretly pick one of four options by pressing one of the directions on the Wii remote’s D-pad. If you’re on offense your choices are: attack, strike, cast a spell, and power up. Defenders can: defend, counter, magic defend or, if in certain danger, give up. Defending against an attack reduces the amount of damage, but a strike goes right through a simple block. Counter damages an opponent using strike, but it leaves the defending player completely open to an attack or magic attack. Magic defense reduces damage from spells, and it’s the option you want to use against a magician since spells cannot miss. There is a rocks-paper-scissors element to the battle system, but you don’t have to memorize every permutation. A handy dandy prediction list can be pulled up at any time to give you an idea of which outcome will lead you to killing a monster and killing yourself. After one attack the roles switch and if someone isn’t declared the winner by the end of the second round the fight is “to be continued”. You only get one attack phase and one defend phase per turn.
If the predicted outcomes don’t look good when defending it’s best to give up. You don’t want to die, it’s painful. Giving up in a fight doesn’t mean it’s time to reset the console. It just means you lose a few turns and the other player gets to punish you. Table turning punishments include stealing the other player’s gold, taking a precious item, or imposing debilitating status effects. Gloating punishments let you taunt other players by changing the other person’s name to anything – even certain four letter words or replace their hairdo with a lump of poo.
Both are humiliating outcomes, but you won’t step into battle against kobolds or other players until you’re properly armed. The prologue stage of Dokapon Kingdom introduces the tiny king and his dilemma. Monsters have overrun his kingdom and you have to retrieve his riches. You aren’t alone in this quest. All of the other players are racing to collect gold and save towns. The winner gets the princess’ hand.
The first level is a simple map with an abundant supply of item squares. I played as a thief who automatically swipes items from any player he passes. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a really useful ability when beginning Dokapon Kingdom. I lucked out and got a wood shield, one of the better pieces of armor, from an item square and stole a item from the warrior early on. Warriors randomly get attack boosts and Magicians can use multiple consumable spells to attack from a distance. Spells like Magma can soften up bosses or other players, if your magic power is up to par, and they don’t even consume a turn.
All was going well until I met the warrior in combat on one of the blank squares in the top portion of the map. I stubbornly stood my ground after two rounds and in the third I made the fatal mistake of striking when the warrior countered. My thief was thrown into a coffin, sent back to start, and I lost my shield. I was waiting for three turns to pass while the warrior and magician raced towards the castle. On the road to victory they gained even more items and leveled up by showing kobolds a thing or two about pointy end of a dagger. The magician made it to Dokapon Castle first, and only by landing exactly on the square for the finish line. The spinner allows you to move up to six spaces, but you can expand the number of spaces you can land on by walking in circles. The key to moving where you want to go is using consumable items. Multiple spinners allow you to move a maximum of twelve or eighteen spaces, and Dokapon Kingdom’s map has a lot of loops which means a lot more spaces become accessible with multiple spinners. Crystals are another useful item because these act like a perfect roll. Let’s say you need to move three spaces, you can use a three crystal to move exactly on the space you want to land on.
The reward for being in first place was eight bonus stat points for the magician to place. The warrior got six stat points for second place, and since I came in third our of a three player game I only got four measly stat points. Better than nothing, but the other players were already gained a level while the king dragged me back to Dokapon Castle. With a dagger in my hand and a wood shield in the other I started to level up. There was no way I could walk up to one of the springy purple monsters on the map, slay it, and save a town. I marched on the blank yellow spaces and walloped magical imps casting the pickpocket spell to gain precious experience points. I was still behind in levels and carrying weak equipment, but chance can turn around quickly in Dokapon Kingdom. The magician tried to rob a store via a game of rock-paper-scissor. If you win the merchant gives you a powerful item from the store, but if you lose you become wanted. A cool 20,000 gold bonus was given for the wanted magician and that was enough cash to buy some sweet armor.
I tried to hunt the magician who was a few levels above me by stepping on to the same square as her. This was a bold move, but chance wasn’t on my side. I didn’t get the first strike when I needed it which mean the only way I could win would be using a risky strike and hoping the magician wouldn’t counter. I learned my lesson from the fight with the warrior. Dying is bad, very bad. I chose to give up and the magician punished my by changing my name to “n00b”. I sat out for two rounds while the warrior finished the weakened magician off and claimed the 20,000 gold reward.
The warrior was far in the lead now and it was time for him to take on a boss. The orc seemed like an even match, but proved to be more formidable than any of us predicted. After two rounds their encounter was “to be continued” and both of them were weakened from exchanging blows. I stepped into their fight by landing on the town and took the orc left with a single digit amount of HP out with a single strike. Now the near fatal warrior had to face me and odds weren’t looking good for him. Instead of taking a risk the warrior gave up. When a lower level player beats a higher level player the lower level player automatically gets enough experience to be the same level as the higher level player. Suddenly, I came back like a dark horse in a race. I stole the warrior’s money, gained a bunch of levels, and took control of a town – a gold mine in paper form. Towns don’t give you physical gold other than taxes, but you get a huge value boost when the king tallies the amount of riches you recovered.
I was ahead for a moment, but the magician managed to capture a town too. While we were moving towards the final boss monster for the stage the warrior met Roche, the girl in a bear suit pictured above. Blank spaces don’t always lead to fights. Sometimes events happen and you’re given optional side quests. Roche’s event isn’t like a side quest. You play rock-paper-scissors with her (Dokapon Kingdom has a thing for rock-paper-scissors). Win and you take her money. Lose and she takes yours. Roche is sort of like a wild card. She can be a blessing if she steals money from other players and you cash in on her collection, but the warrior was not victorious. Poor warrior.
The magician gained two towns after beating the boss monster for this chapter. Then the king suddenly gave all of us a mission to fetch an antidote for the princess’ adorable dog from a far off region of the map. A race began and through the power of using an item to steal a crystal from the magician I was able to return to the castle with the antidote while the other two players hunted me down. The king rewarded me with an even higher value town and I cleared the chapter in first place.
This game of Dokapon Kingdom was far from over, it was about 1/8 settled at this point. Dokapon Kingdom matches are long and if you want to play a game from start to finish you won’t be able to do it in one sitting. Good thing there are save points. Since Dokapon Kingdom is turn based and not reaction based you can sit down with a group for half an hour progress, save, and continue after Physics 101 in the evening. Dokapon Kingdom is a game designed for dorms, preferably quads. You can play Dokapon Kingdom with CPU controlled opponents,and you must have at least one to start a game. However, mocking the computer isn’t as fun as playing with or better said against a friend.
Protip: Make sure you start Dokapon Kingdom with the MAXIMUM amount of human players you think will play your saved game. Once Dokapon Kingdom starts you can’t add extra players into the mix. If you think four people are going to come over and play Dokapon Kingdom every other night you want to make a game with four players from the very beginning. Actually, just start a game with four people. You are going to want to play Dokapon Kingdom with four friends.
Images courtesy of Atlus.