Boing! Docomodake DS (DS) review
"Welcome to my new dilemma. It's called Boing! Docomdake, and it's clearly after my sanity."
Hereís a scary thought for you: we all know itís videogame journalism logic that licensed games are expected to either suck or have awful clichť review intros boldly proclaiming their break from the norm. Iím going to go one further: I donít even have a norm in this case; all I have is a brand new reason to promote despair and pessimism. I also have a poignant example. Watch yourself: itís incredibly poignant.
Here, in the UK, we have this TV advert for a car insurance group that goes under the name of Elephant. Elephantís mascot, a man dressed up in a pastel blue suit and a giant foam elephantís head, is portrayed on TV as an annoying corporate oink who always gets in the way of the guy trying to tell the viewers about how much money they can save if their car is stolen, blown up, or eaten by ravenous ferrets. Now imagine a video game based around this mascot was produced and thrown in a foreign market where no one had ever heard of him.
Welcome to my new dilemma. Itís called Boing! Docomdake, and its clearly after my sanity.
Docomodakes, the stars of the game, are the loyal mascot of a telecommunications network in Japan you or I have never heard of, and could bring forth a redundant title existing on the same plain as the Cheetos game I hope you were lucky enough to never play on the SNES. In a way, this would make things easy; Iíd make fun of the game, mock the link with an obscure mascot and be on my merry way to the pub before lunch. So itís just my luck that Boing! turns out to be a clever and somewhat unique puzzle/platform game. Somewhere out there, an Asian PR group is finding this all very funny.
A Docomodake, then, is a mushroom-like creature with the handy ability to absorb smaller versions of itself, allowing it to scale up or down in size at whim while spitting out or assimilating its tiny brethren. Itís this ability that allows our fun-loviní fungus to progress through seven distinct worlds to rescue numerous family members who all vanish suspiciously close to the annual mushroom festival. Various tricks and traps bar the way of our would-be rescuer, and the key to progression lies not just in your ability to think your way through these obstacles, but in the employment of your tiny mushroom clones.
You can stack them up one on top of the other to form a makeshift ladder or hold them in place to make temporary platforms to traverse. You can gather them on one side of a scale to serve as weight to shift balance, or you can have one roll up into a little ball and hurl it at targets or enemies. You expel or regenerate your minis from your body to govern your own form: a smaller docomodake will be required to squeeze through tight gaps and corridors, while you require a bulkier form to muscle large blocks out of the way.
Itís all very clever, but the most cunning aspect of how Boing all comes together is a perfect control scheme that makes the entire process effortless. You can control the docoís entire range of movements with just the d-pad (or the XYBA buttons if youíre one of these freaky lefties), leaving your other hand free to stylus stab. The clean simplicity of the one-handed controls allows you to effortlessly jump, duck, dash and add or subtract your smaller versions to you while you abuse the touch screen to lasso clones together, glide them through zigzagging spike pits, dump them on a pressure pad or use them as blocks to impede web-crawling spiders.
Itís clever, but itís also short. The entire game might only cost you some five hours but the option to wander back to beaten stages to try and gain an S rank will add to this. Each level you undertake has numerous out-branching pathways that might lead to a catch of coins or a treasure chest granting you an extra mini to take command of. You can even use all the coins you collect throughout the game to purchase unlockable BGM and the static cut scenes that open each different world featuring the unfortunate happenstances that befall the family member you set of to rescue. Saving your elderly mushroom grandmother whoís fallen into a river may not sound like a gripping plot, and thatís because it isnít. The strength of this game is elsewhere and, startling though it is, all these pros can be tied right back to the offbeat protagonist -- a walking mushroom who is little more than a mascot for NTT Docomo.
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