The first thing Beta and I noticed upon picking up Dokapon Kingdom was that it billed itself as the Friendship Killer. I can say, with wholehearted honesty, that yes, Dokapon Kingdom can be a friendship killer. But, in spite of that, it is a greatly fun game. Just don’t play it with anyone with high blood pressure or a bad temper.

Dokapon Kingdom will grate on your nerves the moment you turn it on, not because of gameplay flaws or poor execution, but rather because of that damned angel thing that talks you through setting up your game. God, that thing’s voice drives me crazy. If you can get past that, then you will be inundated with other screwy vocal work throughout your playtime. I love cute female voices (call it a weakness), but these… they’re so saccharin-laden that it drives me crazy.*shudder* Ok, on to the gameplay.

Dokapon Kingdom plays out allot like a board game. You spin a spinner to determine the number of spaces you can move, choose where to move, and participate in an event based on which space you land on. Some spaces have mini-games, bonuses or other events, but most of them involve fighting a monster of some sort. How this works is at the crux of the game.

When setting up the game, you pick a class from Warrior, Thief and Mage, which determines your starting stats. It’s in this way that the game plays somewhat like an RPG. You go from random battle to random battle, leveling up and earning new gear and powers. The overarching goal of the game is to save the King of Dokapon Kingdom’s money. The player who does so gets to marry Princess Penny. Yes, regardless of whether you’re a male or female character, you get to marry the Princess. Beta was insulted and decided that the King and his crisis could go to hell (I’m paraphrasing, but she wasn’t happy). You go around the map liberating towns, which earn you a surplus of gold each turn. Victory is determined by whoever has the most gold.

By now your probably wondering why this game, which sounds like a simple RPG/board game hybrid could kill friendships. The answer lies in the undercurrent of competitiveness that this game breeds. Beta, Omega and I started out in one game socially, but by the third week (the game plays out in weekly formats), Omega had both Beta and my ire since he was doing very, very well, while Beta was growing frustrated with her run of bad luck she was having. I took an opportunity when Omega tried to attack the weapon shop, lost and got branded an outlaw to attack him and collect the bounty on his head. Once I beat him in battle, I got to choose a punishment for him, and I chose to draw graffiti on his face. I also successfully sacked one of his towns, stealing gold from him. Beta had been getting slaughtered by level 2 monsters, one of which took her weapon, meaning she was officially screwed; no weapon meant she couldn’t kill anything to get gold, and without gold she couldn’t buy a new weapon. With Omega frustrated upon losing to me in battle and Beta constantly losing, Beta just turned the game off on me. I was having my best match ever and they bailed on me. Jerks.

Of course, I’m not some lucky Dokapon master. In another round, Beta had approximately eights towns to two for me. Beta captured another town, and the game said – I swear! – that I was “so happy” for her that I gave her one of my towns. WTF?! No way in hell I wanted to give her one of my two towns, but the game decided I did for me. Stupid game.

Graphically, the game is very simple, but it has an undeniable charm. Overall, if you’ve got the patience and some tolerant friends, this is a great game. Just be wary of the AI, because it is ruthless, and is almost impossible to beat on higher difficulties. Play it and enjoy it. Alphasim out.