Lend Me Your Ears
I’ve been colonized by some invasive organism, origin unknown, and I can feel it breeding and pooling in my substructure. I’ve realized that I always preface posts written under these conditions with the assertion of my illness, and the reason I do it is to warn you. My grip on English is tenuous, even in the full flower of health. This preface is a ragged man waving a makeshift flag, shouting, “Turn back, friends! A poet haunts these woods!”
Dokapon Journey is a board game for the Nintendo DS - yes, like Monopoly, but also unlike it, like Mario Party, but distinct from it. The metaphor in place is rich, and lining the walls of its office are framed diplomas from an impressive cross-section of old-school universities. Think of each player as a lone hero in a classic Japanese role-playing game, amassing power by defeating evil (or merely inconvenient) creatures, liberating townships, and shopping. Now, imagine this land were chockablock with industrious young heroes, all competing for accolades from a diminutive ruler. That’s Dokapon Journey in a nutshell: a competitive multiplayer JRPG. You know everything you need to know. It has a single player “story mode,” but it’s hard to get revved up for that when the alternative - robbing and murdering your friends - is available on the same cartridge.
Glancing at the vile and destructive Metacritic, I can see the game is riding low with something like a 58 average. That’s simply not consistent with our experience, and may be a projection into our universe from some Opposite Dimension - a warped realm of sundered causality, one in which good games get bad scores.
We’ve written about this before - great multiplayer games being raked over the coals for including some nominal single player portion. It’s nonsense, but it’s a kind of nonsense clung to by the industry’s opinion makers, which I suppose makes it a fur-lined, upmarket kind of nonsense. It’s a fundamental problem with the dialectic when a game that delivers something akin to excellence is plugged into some weird machine that obviates the true experience of play. I don’t want to rail from the podium or anything, but if you scored Dokapon Journey badly, you’re going to fucking hell.
My thinking is that you can pick it up now, when it’s thirty dollars, or you can wait until it’s an eBay collectors item and lose your Goddamned shirt.