When my friends and I get together for a night of gaming, a few good fights inevitably break out.
There will always be the odd accusation of cheating, or complaining that someone’s being unfair or playing “cheap”. It’s usually accompanied with a good laugh, and maybe a tossed pretzel or two. A little healthy competition, with a little bit of cheating here and there, always makes for an entertaining way to spend time with your gaming buddies. If this sounds like your gaming circle, then Dokapon Kingdom is the game for you.
Released back in 2008 for the PS2 and Wii, it titled itself as the “friendship destroying game”. That was one title my friends and I just couldn’t resist.
The game definitely stood out in many ways. It was at heart a board game. And while there have been several board games released for consoles, and various adaptations to such from established series (such as Sonic Shuffle), they’ve never been very well received. Most people, who own Monopoly, don’t need to go out and buy it for their console. For a board game to do well on console, it has to be something unique. And this game excels at such.
Dokapon Kingdom took things to a whole new level. Instead of just being a simple board game where you roll dice and wander a board, the game threw in some serious RPG elements as well. The players are all adventurers working to save the kingdom, while at the same time lining their pockets. As you explore the world, which is broken into various regions, you will fight many varied enemies along the way, from simple kobolds and goblins to mighty dragons and demons. The players don various weapons and shields, as well as varied assortment of spells, upgrading their gear through stores and item spots around the map.
The players go through a series of quests, liberating towns, fighting boss monsters, and searching the lands for items the king requests. Travel is done by using a spinner, though there are items to help you get around quicker, and to help slow down the opposition. There are a number of dungeons to explore, each with their own theme. And the quests can range from exploring the lands to find a specific item, to facing off against a boss in a battle to the death.
Battles aren’t overly complex, but still require a lot of thought in how to approach them. They essentially work in a sort of rock-paper-scissors fashion. The player draws one of two cards, to see who goes first. The attacker can then either attack normally, try a strike for uber damage, cast an attack spell, or try to use a special ability. The defender then has to choose whether to defend, counter, use defensive magic, or just give up. Defending works against basic attacks, but leaves you weaker to magic and strikes. Countering will turn a strike back on the attack, but if they didn’t strike, you’re open to taking huge damage yourself, and your defensive magic only really works if they’re casting at you. It’s basically a matter of figuring out what strategies your opponent might be using, and how best to overcome them, while they do the same to you. The picks each combatant makes are hidden from the other. So it’s one part strategy, one part luck, and sometimes one part peeking at what button your friend is hitting. Because oh yes, players are quite welcome, and in fact encouraged, to attack each other throughout the game.
A little healthy competition is always good fun. Of course, Dokapon Kingdom takes this to new extremes, offering the players various options as to just how they’d like to screw each other over. From direct attacks, to zapping each other on the world map with spells, to using annoying items, to sending homicidal assassin robots after each other. The king might want that special item from the dungeon, but only one player can bring it back. There’s nothing quite like killing off your friend and stealing that item a couple of spots away from the castle. And if you manage to defeat your friends in combat, you can steal their money or gear, pass on any negative debuffs you might have onto them, or just drawn on their face with a marker.
Naturally, in a game like this, some players will pull ahead of the pack. But unlike most games, where the player in the lead seems to be invincible, and the player in last place just have to sit back and watch everyone else get the glory, Dokapon Kingdom has an ace in the whole. The Darkling. If a player is in last place for long enough, they will hear whispers of sweet revenge. They can then head to the Darkling spot on the map. In exchange for giving up all their towns and items, they become the Darkling; a ridiculously overpowered griefing machine, with access to some seriously broken gear, one such item allowing them to simply steal towns from other players just by landing on them. The Darkling gets to roll multiple spinners to quickly zip around the map and hunt down those who once had the upper hand. They also have a nasty array of special abilities they can call on, such as dropping traps around the world, shutting down towns and shops, and even stealing away castles, which are the grand prize for completing the main quests of the game. A player who ends up the Darkling can quickly jump back up the rankings, or at the very least ruin everyone else’s position.
The game features two game modes. The free play allows players to set a time limit to the game, and just see where everyone stands at the end. The story mode has the players working through a progression of quests, unlocking new territories as they go, and will generally last for several play sessions. This can give you a few days to rebuild your friendships before inviting your friends over for another fighting match. And no matter how screaming mad we might get at each other during a session, my friends and I are always itching for the next.
Of course, for those times when your friends are too upset to keep playing, you can always take on computer opponents. These have three difficulty settings, from stupid, to average human, to downright cheating. If you thought your friends were annoying, try going up against three computer opponents set to “Sneaky”.
Dokapon Kingdom is a great classic, which provides an unparalleled RPG board game experience. The game is wonderfully balanced, and offers endless replay value. While some main objectives will remain the same, there are so many random elements, that each game is a unique experience. There is also a gallery that tracks all the items you’ve found through all your various sessions. Completing that can be quite a challenge; something my friends and I are still working on. If you’re looking for a game that’s simple to play but has an amazing amount of depth, this is definitely one to look out for. A must have for anyone with friends, as it will provide you with countless hours of competitive fun and mayhem. And the AI will keep you company after you’ve kicked them all out in frustration.