You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
Boing! Docomodake DS is best described as an arcade puzzle title. From the screenshots it looks a little like Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, as it involves several small characters, but in reality it's far simpler to play.
Essentially, your character, Papa Docomodake, is a large mushroom (stay with me here). He must be guided via the d-pad from one end of each level to the other, collecting coins and avoiding various (not actually very threatening) hazards as he goes. To assist Papa in progressing through the level, it's possible to use the stylus to pull 'Mini' mushrooms out of him. Each time you do this, Papa gets smaller in size, and also lighter, which means he can fit into smaller gaps and walk across surfaces that might not otherwise be able to support his weight. These little Minis can then be moved around the screen with the stylus to build ladders and bridges, and to throw at enemies, however they don't move around on their own.
Think Lemmings, only far simpler, in that you need to solve basic puzzles to get your character to the end of the level, however it's not done against a clock and you don't have to worry about the little Minis running off on their own when you're not paying attention to them. You can pause the action at any time in order to scroll around the level and figure out what you need to do, so quick reactions are not called for.
Because the levels get a little more complicated on the latter stages and you're required to be able to use the d-pad and the stylus at the same time, it's probably a little too complex for very young children, but anyone from the age of about six upwards should be able to give it a go, and the basic nature of the gameplay encourages some easy uncomplicated puzzle solving which kids should enjoy.
Graphically the game is very sharp and the puzzles and control system have been well thought-out. The levels never get too complicated, but they do offer some degree of challenge on the later stages, and each of the new puzzle elements comes with an interactive explanation should the player ever get stuck. The soundtrack isn't anything exciting, but it does set the quirky mood nicely.
Anything for adults?
If you're after a very simple puzzle-solving experience then you may find this diverting for an hour or so, but the simplistic nature of the game means that you'll zip though the stages fairly fast and won't ever feel really challenged by it.
An imaginative, slightly quirky platform puzzler which will be great for the kids but doesn't hold a whole lot of challenge for adult gamers. It's non-violent, and encourages players to think ahead a little and plan (particularly on the later stages) so you might even get away with calling it educational. If you're looking for good, clean, non-violent video gaming for your son or daughter then this is well worth a look.