Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Sting/Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is an odd game ? and I?m not just referring to the gameplay.
In fact, the gameplay is downright normal, all things considered. Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is a hybrid board game-RPG, with all the trappings of a board game, and all the grinding of a JRPG. It?s simultaneously the most obvious pairing ever, and the sort of thing I wouldn?t wish on my worst enemy. I?ll explain more about why the gameplay is so torturous in a few moments.
But first, it?s worth considering how bizarre it is that Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is getting released now in North America. It?s the re-release of a 2008 Wii/PS2 game that got middling reviews on its North American release, and the first Dokapon game to be released outside of Asia since Dokapon Journey, a DS game that also came out in North America in 2008. Though the franchise has been around in Asia since 1993, since this game was released there have only been two other Dokapon games, a 2011 mobile game and a 2020 release that also seems to have been a board game.
What I?m saying is that even by the standards of cult Japanese franchises, this one is kind of niche.
And that niche-ness carries over to the gameplay. While at first glance you might expect Dokapon Kingdom: Connect to be a Mario Party clone, given the board game layout and the fact that you?re competing with friends for coins and various rewards, it doesn?t take long for it to become clear that this is much, much more grind-heavy than any Mario Party game. Playing through the Story mode can take you more than 20 hours ? and double that if you want to really dig into the side quests.
The good news is that you can save your progress every once in awhile. The bad news: you?re still playing a board game that will take you several days to finish (unless, I guess, you just power through it all in one day ? which I wouldn?t recommend). And it?s not like there?s a tonne of variety to be found as you?re playing through the game: you go from space to space, battling monsters in turn-based battles while trying to make as much money as possible through lucky rolls of the dice and picking up well-paying odd jobs. Like any RPG, you need to pay attention to your health, since if you lose it all, you have to sit on the sidelines for a few turns while your fellow players keep on exploring the sizable board. You?ve also got to watch out for fellow players, who can apply status effects to your character that can drain your health and leave you for dead.
All of this might be worth it if you?re super into Dokapon ? but do such people exist? I mean, I?m sure there are some, but if you?re in that very tiny group you probably don?t need to have anyone tell you to pick this game up. And if you?re not? Then you?re definitely going to want to give Dokapon Kingdom: Connect a pass, unless you feel like devoting dozens of hours to a board game that?s not really very interesting.
Idea Factory provided us with a Dokapon Kingdom: Connect Switch code for review purposes.