Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dokapon Kingdom: Required Game Time

My brother and I have been sinking a lot of time into the multiplayer party-RPG Dokapon Kingdom over the last week or so. It is a pretty fun and addicting game, with a lot of elements designed to encourage an exciting and competitive multiplayer environment. Unfortunately, right now I am concerned that that despite its billing as a party game, Dokapon Kingdom requires too much game time. Since even a limited game requires several hours to see through to completion, organizing a group of people to play a full game could be problematic.

To begin with, the game's story mode is certainly designed to be played consistently over a longer period of time. In the Story Mode go-through right my brother and I are playing right now, we are just short of the halfway point after playing for around ten hours. Playing through Story Mode to completion is probably a twenty to thirty hour task, which makes it pretty unsuitable for a party environment. Rather, Story Mode seems to be designed for a situation like ours: several family members playing the game together for short chunks of time over several days.

It is pretty clear that Normal Mode and Battle Royal Mode are the main game modes designed for party-style play. Even then, they can still be long affairs. A Normal Mode game set to length of 12 weeks (84 turns) took the two of us about 3 or 4 hours to get through. That means that a Normal Mode game of Dokapon Kingdom is pretty comparable in length to a fairly complex traditional board game: something someone has to devote an entire evening to. It really isn't suitable to be played for only and hour or two; a game lasting only a few weeks is too short for anything decisive to happen. Because of this, Dokapon Kingdom is a good choice for a gaming club or a group of friends with a free afternoon, but it isn't suitable for a short 1-hour game while waiting for other people to arrive at a club meeting.

Unfortunately, while Dokapon Kingdom can be played for only a few hours, even that much time is not really enough to get into the real meat of the game. The game world of Dokapon Kingdom is very large with a lot of depth; there is no way for a group of people to really take advantage of everything there is to offer in only a few hours. In particular, the class changing system of the game is very unlikely to come into play in a typical Normal Mode game. After ten hours in Story Mode, I have finally been able to access a second tier job, and from what I have seen it is unlikely that jobs can be acquired at a faster rate in Normal Mode. So, people playing Normal Mode are probably limited to playing the three staring jobs out of a list of about a dozen total classes. So a lot of the material that is in the game feels like it is going to waste in reasonably short games.

I admit that I do need some more experience playing Normal Mode and Battle Royal Mode games, but I currently do have some big concerns about how well the game will work in an environment like my old college gaming club. Still, I will probably give it a try some time, since the game can be a lot of fun. I will blog about it here when that happens.

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