Hitting number one in Japan and China this week was a game called Dokuro, a fun puzzle scroller from mobile game giant GungHo Online Entertainment. Already a popular title on PlayStation Vita, the game just hit the top overall spot on the Android here in Japan after being released last week. On iOS, it was also the country’s top app for a few days this week .
Interestingly, it also became China’s iOS top app/game on December 7th, a position it still holds now as I write this.
For those not familiar with the title, it stylistically has the same sort of whitewashed macabre cartoon art as The Nightmare before Christmas, with a similar skull-headed hero. The story has our rescuing the princess from the Dark Lord’s castle, after he kidnapped and locked her in a dungeon.
This boney, but sympathetic, henchman guard decides to escort the princess through elaborate stages, employing a number of tools and strategies to bring her safely past treacherous obstacles and traps. The princess is far from the model of an independent woman, walking mindlessly forward like a lemming, depending on you to clear the path. The hero can move boxes, pull levers and push buttons to toggle gates, and even drink a potion to temporarily transform into a swashbuckling prince.
I’ve been playing the game for a few days now, and it seems to stay fresh as you go along with lots of new tactics and tools as the game progresses. The stages are short enough that you can pick up the game and try a new stage at any time during your day, sort of the same kind of mini challenge as Angry Birds in a way. So it will be interesting to see if Japan’s legion of on-train smartphone gamers latch on to this one or not.
Dokuro has some merchandising potential as well, with many of the early reviews here in Japan commenting on how cute the characters are. The game isn’t dependent in language in any way, so it’s a pretty accessible title that anyone can enjoy.
Until at Dragon Quest VIII knocked it out of the top spot today. ↩