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When I bought this game, I was really looking forward to it. I had been led to believe that it involved interaction with a huge world where you could do what you wanted. You could affect the people living on the islands through your actions, both good and bad. In short, all the official press releases and official websites were describing it as Nintendo's very own ''Black & White''.
How quickly I learnt the errors of my ways.
So, now on with the review:
You are a big yellow giant. Some crackpot legend said you would one day, rise from the sea. The legend doesn't say much else. So the game starts with you as a big yellow giant, wondering what in the world exactly you are doing on this primitive island.
Your objective in the game is to build monuments. Now since you are quite a dumb and lazy giant, you can't build them yourself. So you have to get the villagers to build them. There are four different races of villagers: Blue sprites, Yellow Sprites, Green Sprites and Red Sprites. Somehow you have to work out how to get them to build all the different monuments (there are two types of each monument: love and hate).
The world is indeed very big and you can explore the differences between your two different forms: Doshin the love giant and Jashin the hate giant. Each form has different powers, but both walk so slow, you think you that you must have taken mind-altering drugs that makes the whole world around you slow down. Frankly the differences between the two forms are not huge and their powers are boring and difficult to use. Doshin for example, can raise or lower ground and lift things from one place to another. Which unfortunately, is pretty much what you have to do for most of the game. The villagers tell you which parts of the ground they want raised or lowered. Unfortunately, what they really, really want is FLAT ground, not higher or lower ground and so often they keep on asking you to raise the ground, even if you have already created a huge mountain. As your powers only extend over a small area, you have to raise a small bit of land and then raise the bit next to it. Rinse and repeat 50 times and hopefully you might just have a flat piece of land. Or you might have ended up with an piece of land that is more uneven than when you started, especially if you follow the instructions of the villagers. So often, you have to second guess the villagers' instructions.
If you do manage to persevere and succeed, you will grow in stature, size and strength, but unfortunately, again the villagers are dumb and so get underfoot. I don't want to spoil anything so all I will say is that squashing them is a really bad idea if you want to succeed in the game. The larger you become, the more villagers you accidentally step on. At the end of each game day, you revert back to the size that you started at in the morning (which is always the same). As you have to be of a certain size in order to be able to do certain things, you have to a fair amount of boring levelling up before you can really do anything. This can take time and before you know it, the game day is over once more and you are back to square one.
The graphics are rubbish. The villagers can only be distinguished by their different colours. They are about as well drawn and animated as the early Lemming games. The world, the giants and the water look quite nice (especially the water effects), but the villages and villagers are poorly done. When zoomed in up close, they look alright, but as you move away from them, they are portrayed as pixels on the screen. Fair enough, this was meant to be a 64dd game originally, and normally the lack of beautiful graphics doesn't matter in Nintendo games, but you can't help feeling that graphics might help to mitigate circumstances in this lacklustre game.
Unfortunately, you can't turn on a pin in this game. You have quite a wide turning circle. This means that when working in villages, you will often squash quite a few villagers. This is quite annoying as it slows down work on your monument as they run, screaming for their lives. Whilst this large turning circle is realistic for a giant it really hampers your best efforts. There you are, trying to build a positive relationship with the villagers and then you go and squash one of their friends. This really puts a dampener on any relationship.
Now this is the whole point of the game; Getting the villagers to build monuments in the process of their veneration of you. Once you work out how to build all the monuments, the game loses all challenge. You will work out how to do this in half an hour, tops. Even less if you read the manual. Once you have worked out how exactly the monument system works, the game becomes all about repetition and loses any challenge. The game will last you a long time because you have to build so many monuments and you walk slower than any Resident Evil character. But it will be boring. Utterly, utterly boring.
What could have been Nintendo's answer to the always popular god-sim genre, looks like it came from the very depths of hell. The setting and world are quite nice, but it seems somewhat dull and lifeless. The game lacks the humour that Nintendo's games normally possess. It is this humour that make Nintendo's games appealing to people of all ages. Mario games are charming because the world is bright, happy and full of humour. Doshin's world lacks this humour. As a result, the world has no charm and you just don't give a damn about Doshin or the villagers.
also available on gamefaqs