Dokapon Kingdom Connect – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Sting, Idea Factory and Compile Heart, with publishing handled by Idea Factory International, Dokapon Kingdom Connect is a hybrid of digital board game and turn based RPG. Adventurers must battle it out with monsters and each other, with the victor saving the kingdom and claiming the Princess as their bride. This title is available exclusively on Nintendo Switch, with a link to the game at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Idea Factory International for providing the copy of Dokapon Kingdom Connect that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting off with the story of Dokapon Kingdom Connect. Please not I will only be covering the core aspects of this title, as there are many nuances and secrets that are best experienced first hand.

Story – Everyone in the Dokapon Kingdom loves money, however, one day in this peaceful land, monsters appeared and began attacking nearby towns. The economy collapsed from these attacks and people were at their lowest, with takes no longer being paid. So with this terrible situation, the king decided to take action.

He sent out a call for the bravest adventures to rescue the towns. In exchange for their service, the one who collects the most money will be rewarded with the princess’ hand in marriage and the throne of Dokapon Kingdom. And thus, an adventure to claim the most money begins, where absolutely anything goes.

Gameplay – Dokapon Kingdom Connect is a digital board game where at least 2 players (with COM players if playing alone) compete to earn the most money. The action is turn based, with players able to choose from several actions during each of their turns, with 7 turns being classed as a Week. When a week is completed, there will be a score ranking for the players, totalling up all the money that they have earned as assets. With positions being determined by the most wealth gained.

When starting the game, the player must pick the game mode that they want to play. There are three options for players to select from before they can get into the action. They are the story mode, where players can go through chapters that each have their own missions, dialogue events and can be played alone or with friends. The next is the normal mode, which runs for a set number of weeks with the goal to be gaining the most money before the turn limit is up.

The final game mode is Battle Royale, which has three distinct modes for a more varied experience separate from the standard modes. These sub games are Town Race, where players race to save a designated town, Kill Race, where a set number of player kills must be achieved and Shopping Race where a set of items must be obtained for the king. The different game modes can be played online with friends, allowing for players across the globe to join in the fun.

But before the fun can begin, players need to create their adventure with a selection of hair styles, faces and classes to choose from. The characters can be either male or female, with their own unique set of customization options to select from. Once characters have been created, named and adjusted if they are COM players, the game can start. At the beginning of the game the players must race to the castle, collecting starting gear and learning how to play.

When players reach the castle, they will be provided with any items they are missing, along with bonuses to their stats. The different stats that players have are related to the battle system, covering the traditional elements like health, attack and defence. The bonuses provided upon reaching the castle are vary depending on the order that they arrive, with the first player getting the most points and reduced with each other arrival.

At the start of a turn, the most common option that players can select is to move across the board by using the spinner. The spinner itself has numbers from 0-6 with players moving freely up to the number that they get. Players can also use items to affect themselves and their opponents, giving them an advantage over the following turns. The items are collected when landing on specific spaces (discussed further below).

Depending on where a player lands on the board several things can happen, with many of the spaces having the possibility for effects to occur. Here is a quick breakdown of the most common spaces on the Kingdom board;

  • Empty Space – these are the most common spaces that players will land on during their adventures. Landing on these spaces will most often result in battles, either with a random enemy or with another player if they occupy the same space. There is the chance for a special event or effect to occur on these spaces, so keep an eye out for those.
  • Equipment Space – there are different equipment spaces that players can land on, with the chance for weapons and shields for players to collect during their quest. The weapons and armor can provide additional bonuses depending on the class of the character chosen.
  • Item Space – these spaces will provide the player with a random item, which include bonus spinners, crystals that move a set number of spaces and special support items.
  • Magic Space – the magic spaces are identical to the item spaces, with a random magic item given to players either as battle magic or board magic depending on the variant of the space landed on.
  • Treasure Space – these spaces have to potential for great riches, as they can give money or loot depending on the icon that they land on. But beware that some of the treasure spaces can have negative effects, which will be a setback for players.
  • Shop Space – throughout the world of Dokapon, there are shops that adventurers can land on, providing the chance to buy weapons, magic or items from their stock. These shops can also be used to sell items that players don’t want to gain extra money.
  • Town Space – these are the most important spaces in Dokapon Kingdom, as they are controlled by powerful boss monsters and the adventurers must liberate the towns. The player that successfully saves the town will gain control of it, adding to their assets and allowing players to invest in them. The towns offer a safe place for adventurers to rest but if an opponent owns it the player must pay.
  • Castle Dokapon – this is where the king is found. Returning to this space will let players change parts of their adventurer, altering their job and hairstyle if they wish. The king will also heal the player and the player can give gifts in an attempt to impress the king.

When landing in an empty space, or a space occupied by either a boss monster or player, a battle will occur (this can vary with the empty spaces). The combat in these battles follows the traditional turn based formula that is synonymous with RPG titles. The order of attack is chosen at random, with the turn player selecting from two cards, with both sides selecting actions to be made during that round of combat.

The actions that can be made interact with each other, with each action having an opposing option that will reduce the damage the defending player will take. However, if the wrong choice is chosen, there is a significant amount of damage that can dealt to the defender, but if they are lucky, the attack will miss entirely. The battle actions and their responses are as follows;

  • Attack – this is the standard attack using the equipped weapon. The defender option for this is Defend, which will reduce the amount of damage that is dealt.
  • Magic Attack – there are many types of battle magic that can be used, each having a different effect on enemies. The defender response for this is Magic Defence which can protect the defender from some damage.
  • Strike – this is a quick attack that can deal a lot of damage to an opponent with this attack. The defender option is Counter, which will deal damage to the attacker while avoiding all damage to themselves.
  • Skill – this is for characters to use a special skill to prepare themselves for the next turn, the defenders option here is Give Up, where the player will surrender and be timed out.

If a battle continues after both sides have attacked, the words “To Be Continued” will pop up on screen and the next player will make their turn. The battle will resume when the players turn comes back around, continuing until there is a victor. If the battle is between players, the battle will occur during each of their turns while both players are still standing. At the end of a battle, the winner will receive experience and money if they are fighting monsters.

When enough experience has been gained, the adventurers will level up, being granted points to increase their stats and make themselves stronger. Their class can also level up at set milestones, providing the option for players to gain new skills and make themselves more powerful. But there is a caveat to this, as the adventurers can only have one skill at a time so the player must decide if they want to keep their current skill or swap it out.

However, if an adventurer is defeated in battle, they will be timed out for a number of turns before they can return to the board. This is shorter if the player surrenders in a battle, but they will still be penalized. A defeated adventurer can also suffer an additional penalty, ranging from losing money or liberated towns, to having their appearance changed by losing their hair. These punishments and penalties add some humor to the proceedings, but can result in frustration.

The kingdom of Dokapon is vast, with many different areas for players to explore. But some areas of the kingdom will initially be locked off, opening up as the adventure continues. There is also the chance for boss monster events to occur, which can affect the players by stealing money and inflicting negative effects. The player can also encounter NPC characters that can give them missions to do, as well as quests from the king like collecting an item for him.

The different special events add an element of surprise to the adventures of this release, with the chance events making each playthrough different from the last. There are many twists and turns that can occur in Dokapon Kingdom, creating a fun party experience that can be a lot of fun for players to enjoy. There is some frustration that can be had, due to the chance of encountering strong enemies or having a particularly spiteful AI opponent, but this isn’t a significant issue.  

At the end of an adventure, the hero with the most money and assets will be crowned the winner, gaining the throne of the kingdom. There are additional bonuses that can be gained based on various factors, like gaining the most favour of the king by providing gifts or liberating the most towns. These additional bonuses for players can increase the tension of a close fought game, as the player in last place could suddenly jump up to the top of the rankings.

Now with the core gameplay experience covered, it is time to cover the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.

Controls – the controls for this release are relatively simple, with all of the inputs that players can use appearing on screen to help keep the game running smoothly. When playing alone or online, the Joy-Con controllers are perfect for playing the game in handheld mode, providing a comfortable experience. The pro controller and Joy-Cons work equally well when playing the game on the big screen, as well as single Joy-Con support for players to enjoy a game anywhere they want.

Difficulty – as a digital board game there is the chance for a lot of fluctuation in terms of difficulty when playing against AI opponents. This is most noticeable when the player is in the lead, as the COM players can aggresively target the human players with effects and try to battle them. To compensate for this, there are several difficulty settings that the player can select from, adjusting the way that the COM will play during a game.

Presentation – Dokapon Kingdom has a very cutesy look to it, with super deformed characters in the chbi style for the adventurers, monsters and NPC characters. The environments and models are pleasing to the eye, fitting the board game setting very well and adding to the experience. The sound design for this title is very good, with music that has a very upbeat feel to it and the use of voiced dialogue in English which adds an extra layer of charm to the game.

Final Thoughts – I had seen Dokapon Kingdom in the past, when it was released on both the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately I never got a chance to play the previous releases, so I jumped at the chance to cover this version and I can safely say that I had a lot of fun playing this rather quirky party game. There are some frustrating elements to it, like the CPU opponents playing in an unnatural way, or outright cheating in some cases, but these aren’t deal breakers for me.

With that being said, I am happy to recommend this game to those who enjoy RPGs and party game titles, as there is a lot of fun to be had either alone or with friends. The inclusion of online play is an excellent addition with this, as it can let players from around the globe enjoy the weird and wacky shenanigans that can unfold. However, if you want to start a story mode game with friends, make sure you have a lot of free time, as the game can take quite a while to finish.

In the end, I give Dokapon Kingdom Connect a final score of 4/5. This is a fun and charming party game, with the unique feature of having RPG mechanics and turn based battles. There is a charm to this with the wacky shenanigans that can unfold, as well as the cast of characters that the player can meet, creating a fun party experience for all players. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to the game will be below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

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