Poor Execution, Great Idea
Imagine a game where you are playing Monopoly, yet in a fantasy setting. The add monsters and magic. Throw in some RPG mechanics such as leveling up with a colorful anime art style. Mix it all together and what do you get? A great idea. Yet as the title of this review implies the game of Dokapon Journey that has all these traits is less than stellar.
The moment I read about this game I was amazed at how ignored it seemed to the public. It was like someone sat down and thought of a bunch of cool things to put in a game and made it happen. Sadly it seems that they missed the boat when it came to explaining how a game like this should work.
The game contains a Monopoly style gameplay. You defeat monsters that are invading their town and as a result you gain a sort of ownership over the town. The town then counts as a score counter towards your overall score and decides who is in the lead. The problem is that this is not explained very well. In fact the majority of the game is a sort of trial and error yet the game is a bit long lasting. Normally one wouldn't complain about a game lasting too long but when you play for about 4 hours and you have been losing the entire time even though you own more towns it starts to seem more like punishment. This is especially notable in the way that this game is a hand held title that has a mode to play with friends in single-card play. Games that last this long in multiplayer are not a great idea for a portable system. Especially since progression is per game. So your level progression and hard work is erased.The battle system is also based on guessing a card and movement is based on a spinning wheel with numbers on it so it seems randomness takes a large portion of the game. Which would be fine but during a battle it might be nice to hit monsters based on stats rather than a random card choice.
The game is also prey to a very steep difficulty curve. Maybe I have been spoiled by modern RPG's but I don't expect a level 13 monster right outside the starting point of my RPG. This couple with the fact that the more often you die the harsher your wait period gets. In a game with a family member once I had died a couple times. The first to a computer that took away my only weapon, then my family member that changed my name to "Butt" and then another time to a low level monster because I didn't have a weapon to fight with. After which the game was half way over and I still 8 levels lower than the top level computer player and in last place. The re-spawn wait gets longer the more times you die as well so I was waiting an average of 6 turns to be able to play again. Needless to say me and my family member lost horribly. This was on Easy. Also to take note I am a huge fan of RPG's and a fan of almost anything Atlus.
This may all be due to my lack of gaming skill but if this game is not accessible to me then the average DS owner is far and away from what this game is for.
Though aside from all the gripes I hope they make another one that is a bit easier. Although I hate to be the one that doesn't like games being to hard. I am not afraid to say I love the art, idea, and style of the game I just don't actually like the game play.