During the Wii and PS2 eras of gaming, there were a lot of Mario Party clones, one of which was Dokapon Kingdom. Sure, it was a clone, but the developer did something to set it apart from the other clones, implementing JRPG elements into its Mario Party formula. Once the Wii U was released, a lot fewer Mario Party-type games were released and became a shadow of the popularity they used to be. With the success of the Switch, Mario Party is back in the mainstream, Dokapon Kingdom has returned in the form of a remaster called Dokapon Kingdom: Connect.
Game Name: Dokapon Kingdom: Connect Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed) Publisher(s): Idea Factory International Developer(s): Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Sting Release Date: May 9th, 2023 Price: $49.99
The goal of Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is to be the person with the most gold in assets before the end of the game. The king of Dokapon is scared while monsters are terrorizing the land. If you can resolve the monster invasion as well as give the king more gold than the other players, he will marry his daughter to the victor. Accomplish the king’s objectives to get more money and assets from the king. If you do what the king says during the game, such as finding specific items for him or killing certain monsters, he will reward you with gold and assets like Castles.
Saving Dokapon Kingdom
The beginning of Dokapon Kingdom: Connect gives you a timetable of two weeks in-game to grab your equipment, starting money, and items before you head to Dokapon Kingdom directly. You have a small area of the map you can traverse to get more and more items and equipment. You use a spinner that dictates how much space you have to move, and you can only move to those exact spaces; there are no shortcuts. Special spaces and towns need to be landed on exactly with the number of spaces you can move. This gives a board game element to the play style. If you take more than two weeks, the king will automatically move you to Dokapon Kingdom. The faster you get to Dokapon Kingdom from the beginning of the game lets you have more stat points to invest into your character.
You begin the Dokapon Kingdom: Connect by selecting and creating your character. You can choose between a Warrior, a Thief, and a Mage. This dictates your starting stats and the special abilities you can access. Warriors have high strength and defense stats with a focus on combat. Thieves have high strength and speed and have a passive ability to be able to steal from players after passing on the same space as them. Mages have high magic and speed stats, they have the best likelihood of succeeding with spell tomes you find around the maps.
Once you are done with the beginning map, you are taken to Dokapon Kingdom, which opens up a much larger map to move around in. There are free spaces, magic tome spaces, item spaces, shops, towns, and invest/collect taxes spots. Free spaces will randomly generate a monster to fight, an event to take place, or a person you can meet. Depending on the area you are in will give you a level of difficulty suited to that monster or event. Free space areas right outside the castle will give you level-1 monsters you can fight. Magic tome spaces will start a roulette spinner that will give you a random spell. These spells can be used outside combat to give buffs, debuffs, or even damage targets.
The best way to accumulate assets in the Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is to help save towns from monsters on the game board. You generally want to get strong before trying your hand at the combat for these towns, as the monsters are stronger than the ones traveling around the free spaces. The bigger the town and the more investments that town has, the greater impact it has on your assets. At the end of each week, roughly seven turns, you will get a big board that places you and all the other contenders up against each, showing who has the most assets and who has the least.
Combat is based a lot on stats in Dokapon Kingdom: Connect, but it also has a strong mind game to it. You have an attacking phase and a defending phase. There is a card draw that determines if you attack first or defend first. You can choose one of up to four actions when you attack and when you defend. An attack is a basic attack that deals damage based on your Attack stat. The enemy can defend to decrease the damage based on their Defense stat. You also have a Strike action. If you strike when the enemy defends, it increases the damage it deals to the enemy. However, the enemy has a counter option that can deal the damage back to you instead of them being hit by the strike. If you attack and the enemy counters, they take the full brunt of the damage, so it makes it a huge risk but a huge reward to try to counter a Strike.
You will also get a spell or ability you can choose to have. Spells deal damage based on your magic stat, they also get mitigated based on the enemy’s magic stat. Knowing this, you can determine to use magic abilities on enemies with high defense but low magic stats. Each c0mbat turn has both an attacking phase and a defending phase. Once a combat turn is finished, it goes to whoever is next in the lineup of the overall turn order. That means getting stuck in combat can take up a lot of turns. In the beginning, I wasted a lot of turns trying to hit a pixie, as they had a high-speed stat causing me to miss them for several turns and miss my turn because of it. As I was fighting the pixie, the other players were going around the board and saving towns.
If you lose in combat, your enemy can rob you, pull a prank on you, or even give you a cursed item. If you die, your HP hits zero, requiring you to wait for two to three turns to be revived at the Dokapon Castle or a temple nearby. If you lost by giving up, you will just be at a low HP and have to wait a turn for you to get yourself back up. Pranks are fun to pull on players. You can change their hairstyle, change their name, or make other nonsensical fun choices. I managed to steal the hat and hair from my friend’s character, and he was bald until he was able to go back to the castle to change his hairstyle.
Dokapon Kingdom: Connect has a very cartoony and blocky art style. It fits well on the Switch catalog of games, and it looks good for what it is. There is a solid amount of effects and animations that take place in the game. A lot of magic effects look fantastical. My favorite ones are the Scorcher and Mirror Image spells. Activated Volt+ on the map also has some fun lightning effects that strike players within a set range. The internet connection, for the most part, was very solid when connecting with a friend from across the country. Servers work well from my experience with it. Though if the connection falls for even a second, the game will kick you back to the title screen. Luckily there is a good auto-save feature that saves at the beginning of the round. We lost connection in a few instances but were able to load the lobby and game pretty quickly afterward.
Dokapon Kingdom: Connect seems like it needs to be played at intervals. Sure, you could try to knock it out in thirteen hours of a single playthrough with friends if you are lucky at getting all the spaces you need, or you can try to do multiple two-hour game sessions with friends on the weekend. Honestly, it feels like Dungeons and Dragons in that same regard of trying to get friends to be with you every weekend to sort out the game and play right where you left off. Though you might have to make new game sessions in case a friend or two falls off from playing with you. You can’t continue a game unless everyone in the lobby with you started playing it.
The one thing I dislike about having computer players join up is they seem to always get the spaces that they want whenever they spin. If they need three spaces to get to a town to save or to get to the castle and turn something in, they will get it. That isn’t always the case, but it just feels a lot more like they didn’t struggle as much as I did or my friends did trying to get to a specific space.
Dokapon Kingdom Never Ends
Overall my time with Dokapon Kingdom: Connect was extremely fantastic. I loved grinding out levels to take over towns and being able to find dungeons to increase my supply of rare items. You can play this game with friends, and that in itself has replay value. I was sad that you can’t play with local and online friends together. You had local mode and online mode, as well as offline wireless mode, for when you have friends who bring over their own Nintendo Switch. I hope the Steam release in the Fall will be able to combine local and online sessions. I wanted to play with my wife as well as my friends, but I generally had to choose if I wanted to play with one or the other.
If you want a game that will keep you and your friends entertained for hours and hours of playtime, then this is the game for you. If you wanted to just play with computer players, that is doable as well. It may feel cheap at times, but it does make it satisfying once you get the thief passive to steal from the computer players. Messing with computer players feels a lot more satisfying to you when they seem like they are cheating at times.
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Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is a blast to play with friends. It may cause some arguments among friends, but it is an overall enjoyable experience. There are some frustrating things, like the mandatory space movements and being unable to combine the local lobbies and online lobbies, but I recommend it as a party game.
Great art style
Addicting gameplay loop
Great servers for various internet connections
Can’t play with local and online players together
Computer players cheat
Bad luck in the beginning can mess up the entire game session for you