Doodle Kingdom review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: 8Floor ltd
Developer: 8Floor ltd
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Prior to Doodle Kingdom, there have been two other Doodle games released on the PS Vita: Doodle God and Doodle Devil. Unless you’re a dedicated Vita completist, of course, you probably didn’t notice either of them…not that you missed much. Both were pretty forgettable mobile ports whose gameplay consisted entirely of matching elements and hoping they created new elements, which you would then match again. Apart from the odd funny trophy or combination, it got pretty repetitive after awhile.

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Doodle Kingdom doesn’t depart from this formula too much, but it has just enough variation that, for the first time in the series’ history on the Vita, it might be worth checking out. The core game is still the same; you’re still doing a whole lot of matching. But this time out, there’s a point to it all. Every time you reach a certain number of elements, you unlock a new story. The story, in turn, consists of more matching, but the matches progress in a way that gradually reveals a plot. It’s not great storytelling, obviously, but it’s something, and it’s enough to make the game seem like more than just a lot of trial and error guesswork.

There is still a lot of that, though. While some of the combinations may be perfectly logical — what do you think will happen when you combine “knight” with “sleeping dragon”, or “nest” with “egg”? — but many of them aren’t. Consequently, you’ll spend a lot of time going through each new section, trying to remember which combos you’ve tried and which you haven’t, and which elements were in which sections.

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Since Doodle Kingdom is a refugee from mobile gaming, it should come as no surprise that you can bypass all that trial and error just by spending a few dollars. Hints can be purchased with crystals, which in turn can be paid for with real money (or with time, if you want to sit and wait for items to refresh). In effect, this means that for $10 (or 30,000 crystals), you can basically spend your way through the whole game.

It’s more fun if you don’t, though. Doodle Kingdom may be frustrating if you only rely on guesswork, but it also feels really rewarding when you go on a hot streak of creating new elements. It’s certainly not the best puzzle game on the Vita or anything, but if you’re in the mood for it, it does the job in a pinch.

Grade: B