Blocks. That’s it. Blocks?! With a super-console like the GameCube, you’d think you were going backwards. It may look weird, but Dobutsu Bancho has some addictive gameplay that some should consider importing.
I’ve just peeked my head up from a couple hours worth of Dobutsu Bancho to say, this is one really messed up game. If you thought Pikmin was weird, Dobutsu Bancho will really bend your mind. Not to say I don’t like it, because so far, I am very impressed.
When you boot up the game, the GameCube logo is shaped like one of the Dobutsu Bancho characters, and growls at you. Very nice touch. You roll into the menus and start a new game. That’s about where you can pretty much kiss the English goodbye in this game. This game is very text heavy, and it’s almost all in Japanese. Only a few menus have English in it. That’s it. If the Japanese language scares you, do not import this game.
So far, I don’t think I’m doing too bad. At least, I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m still trying to figure out what the controls are. Even after reading Bakudan's
Impressions, I’m not sure about a few of the buttons. So far holding down L targets the enemies, and A attacks. Y centers the camera behind you, and the C-stick controls the camera. The Z button makes your Animal Leader poop. That’s right. You can make your little guy poop. It even steams. Only on a Nintendo console.
The Gameplay doesn’t really look as violent as it really is. You go around with your little cube-head creature thingy chomping on other animals…AND MAKE THEM BLEED! That’s Reason #1 why this game will not come to the US. I don’t think cute little animals chewing meat off each other would fly too well outside of Japan. You’ll squirt blood when attacked, and when you kill an enemy, there will be pools of blood around. Sure, it’s not as graphic as a game like Turok per say, but the concept is there.
Characters have hit points so you can see how much life you have left, and how much life your enemy as left. Each animal you attack, and eat helps your character evolve. You might sprout a leg, be able to jump higher or farther, or be able to run faster. When you get to the end of a level, you must battle the boss, which after beating allows you to exit the level.
When you begin the next level, you are allowed to mate. Reason #2 why this game will not make it to the states. The characters do go off screen, not always just with one other character, but three or more. I guess monogamy isn’t explored in the world of Dobutsu Bancho. You have the option to continue as your offspring, or continue as you were before. Continuing as your offspring give you a chance to try out different species. Some species seem to be stronger or faster than others. I have a lot to explore with this.
The Surround Sound is absolutely fantastic. You’ll hear enemies running through the grass around you, and be able to identify easily where they are. Hearing an enemy scream and squeal in pain will bring a smile to anyone’s face. The music is very soothing, and well done. Very simple melodies produced by a piano, guitar, or even violin. I would get a soundtrack if it were available.
The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, but this was the developer’s intention. I actually enjoy the look of the game. Whether it’s a throw back to the 8-bit days or not…it’s very cool. Even so, I would have liked some more detail to the environments. Also there was some pop up that was noticeable, but nothing too distracting.
Dobutsu Bancho isn’t for everyone. If it does interest you, I highly suggest getting your GameCube modified, and picking this up. This game is a niche title as it is in Japan, but in North America, people will probably look at you funny for playing this game. Don’t let that discourage you. Marigul has created an intriguing, fun title that is distinctively Nintendo. Let the eating and breeding live on!