Don't let the name and the cute graphics fool you, Dokapon Kindom, the upcoming party RPG from Sting and Atlus, more than lives up to its subtitle "The Friendship Destroying Game". I had the pleasure of checking it out last week and testing my already somewhat tenuous relationship with my arch-enemy, GamePro's Travis Moses. It was a lot of fun and quite surpassed my expectations.
The best way to start describing Dokapon Kingdom would be to compare it to Mario Party in that they are both multiplayer games that use a board game mechanic, but the similarities stop there. Dokapon Kingdom goes a step further by adding in RPG elements, a huge map and a healthy dose of vicious competition to create something truly unique and a hell of a lot of fun. Up to four players can play locally (there is no online play) and no worries if you only have one controller as the game can be played with the "pass the controller" method.
Dokapon Kingdom has been overrun with monsters much to the chagrin of its King and his daughter, Princess Penny. Your job is to help rid the land of it's monstrous inhabitants and any other requests the King might have for you along the way. You begin the game by creating your own customisable character and choosing your class: Thief, Warrior, Magician, etc. Then, once the game begins it's every man/woman for him/herself.
In classic board game style, moves are determined via a "spinner" that will allow you to move anywhere from 1-6 spaces at a time. You make your way around the board, racing the other players to whatever the current goal is. In my case it was rescuing Princess Penny's piggy bank which had been stolen by a nefarious evil doer. Along the way you can land on various spaces that will let you do things like shop for items, experience random events, battle monsters and liberate towns from their evil clutches. As in an RPG, your character will gain items, gold and experience points from various deeds and eventually your character will grow stronger with advanced levels, better weapons and the like all the way up to level 99. You can also change your class throughout the game, allowing your character to develop skills across the board.
Where Dokapon Kingdom really shines is in its ability to pit players against each other. For instance, if you land on a space where another player is residing, you immediately go into battle mode with them. Once the battle is completed, the winner is allowed to do one of three things to the loser: rob them, prank them or force a bad item on them. The pranks are the most fun and will allow you to change the loser's hairstyle, draw graffiti on them or best of all, change their name. And since the game isn't online, there is no profanity filter so feel free to go nuts with the naughty naming! Additionally, passing a space that contains another character will allow certain characters to steal a random item from them. There are a myriad of ways to screw your fellow players over and the game lets you take full advantage of them.
Dokapon Kingdom is being released on the Wii and PS2 on October 14. If you are the type of person that likes super competitive games, Dokapon Kingdom is definitely the game for you. Just be careful what you rename the other person's virtual character or you could end up with a very real fist in your face.