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Dokapon Kingdom Connect (Switch) Review-In-Progress

by Matthew Zawodniak - May 2, 2023, 10:00 am EDT
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Dokapon Kingdom is a party board game that is often mentioned in the same breath as Mario Party. More specifically it is often regarded as the crueler and more sadistic version of the two, frequently pitched as “what if Mario Party was also a full-length RPG?” Over the last two weeks, I’ve been playing the game with my friends from Mario Party Monthly, the monthly stream series on the NWR Twitch channel where we have been competing against each other in Nintendo’s premiere sadomasochistic party franchise for the past a year and a half. We’ve barely scratched the surface so far—this is a full-length RPG after all—but we’ve already seen enough for me to know that Dokapon Kingdom is a board game experience unlike anything else that’s held back only by how difficult it is to convince people to actually sit down and play it.

The story of Dokapon Kingdom takes place in a standard fantasy RPG setting: a dark lord is threatening the world and the king has sent up to four adventurers to defeat the dark lord and win the princess’ hand in marriage. The players all have the same goal, but they are not working together. Each player’s status is measured by their net worth, which is most significantly influenced by towns on the board that the players have taken ownership of and invested money into for development. That’s right: Dokapon Kingdom has more in common with Monopoly than it does with Mario Party, but money isn’t the only thing you need to keep track of.

Like I said, this is an RPG, and you need to also pay attention to your stats, your equipment, and your class skills. Towns are not bought, but are instead liberated from monsters that must be defeated in battle. These monsters aren’t just filler enemies, they’re formidable opponents that will soundly trounce any underleveled player who tries to take them on. Players who get a good build going early will scoop up towns quickly, leaving opposing players in poverty. Each chapter of the story mode also features distinct objectives such as defeating a boss or retrieving an item for the king, and the player who completes an objective first will receive massive and often permanent rewards.

Success in Dokapon Kingdom depends on how well you can balance all of its various mechanics, and falling behind the pack means that you’ll often be forced to choose violence. Combat takes place in turn-based battles that leverage a rock-paper-scissors style system of advantages and counters. The attacker can choose to use a simple basic Attack which the opponent can weaken with basic Defending, but they can also choose a powerful Strike attack that can break through the enemy’s defense. Strike attacks are risky though, since the defending player can completely negate them with a Counter, which dodges the attack entirely and hits the attacker for more damage than the Strike would’ve done. Unique skills add a bit of extra depth and complexity to battle, and combat between two players is often a gamble on how well you know what your opponent is thinking.

The downside of Dokapon Kingdom is that it doesn’t do a very good job of explaining exactly how its mechanics work. There is a help menu where you can read up on the basics, but a lot of crucial details are often left unsaid. One good example is the Local Items that can be given to the king as a gift to boost your net worth. The help menus explain that Local Items can be obtained at towns you own, but what it does not say is that those towns must be upgraded to level 3, and then they are collected from the town alongside taxes. Battle stats are also never explained so it isn’t clear exactly how your stats translate into damage, or even what the speed stat does at all (it affects hit accuracy). We’ve had to do a lot of google searching to figure out how some major mechanics are supposed to work, and there are a few fundamental mechanics we still don’t fully understand after eight hours of play.

Speaking of those eight hours of play, the daunting scale of Dokapon Kingdom is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The length of the story mode heavily depends on the people you’re playing with and how efficiently you complete objectives, but discussion of the game online tells me that it takes roughly 25 hours to finish a single playthrough—and that’s if you’re quick! This enables an incredible opportunity to craft an ongoing adventure with friends that devolves into spiteful chaos as time goes by, with tension higher than any other multiplayer game I’ve ever played. The obvious drawback is that you need to figure out how to get a group of players to sit down and play a single playthrough for over 25 hours. The four of us are all adults who are out of school and have jobs and responsibilities to take care of, so those eight hours of play over the course of four sessions constituted every free moment we could find together over the course of two weeks. Even now I’m not sure if we’ll ever actually be able to finish this game, and that is a substantial red flag that I feel has to be included alongside any recommendation of this game. This isn’t something you can casually pick up with the lads; it is a substantial commitment that will take a very long time to finish.

Of course since Dokapon Kingdom Connect is a Switch remaster of a Wii remaster of a PS2 remake of a Super Famicom game, the most pressing thing I have to address is the brand new online mode that this version is named for. Our entire playthrough so far has been entirely online, and that experience has frankly been immaculate. We have not experienced a single internet-related problem in the game so far, and a sleek autosave system backs up your progress every turn so that nothing is lost if you do need to restart the lobby for a game in progress. Each player also receives their own copy of the ongoing save file, so no one person needs to be relied on as the host for an entire playthrough. Whenever we need to load the save file, it’s a simple matter of loading the save file, and then the game automatically connects us together. In an era where long-form online multiplayer games often struggle to have an intuitive save system, it’s a pleasant surprise that Dokapon Kingdom Connect just works.

Of course, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Dokapon Kingdom has to offer, and there’s still a long adventure ahead of us. It’s going to take us a long time to finish this game, so I’d like to invite you to join us so we can witness the journey unfold together. We have been recording our entire playthrough so far just like it was a game of Mario Party Monthly and will be broadcasting it on NWR's Twitch channel as part of our new series: Dokapon Kingdom (Kind Of) Monthly. Beginning Friday, May 26th, we will be broadcasting our entire playthrough so far, and once the recordings catch up with us we may even start streaming our sessions live as we play them.

The journey has just begun, and we’ve got a lot of Dokapon Kingdom ahead of us, but I’m incredibly excited to continue this adventure. Check back with us as Dokapon Kingdom (Kind Of) Monthly progresses to see more of our impressions on this legendary party board game.



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Game Profile

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer Idea Factory
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Dokapon Kingdom Connect
Release May 09, 2023
PublisherIdea Factory
jpn: Dokapon Kingdom Connect
Release Apr 13, 2023
PublisherIdea Factory
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