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Moke Moke - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Moke Moke

DSiWare | G-STYLE | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 200 Nintendo Points
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15th March 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

It's quite common for smaller gameplay renditions to be executed off to the side of a main excursion, especially in games belonging to a recognized series. Usually these aren't enough to stand on their own, and as such, they're often qualified on the basis that they function as distractions. But other times, they accomplish much to the point of actually helping players form tertiary memories alongside the central game mode. It's easy to take a passing look at Moke Moke and conclude it's a small part of a bigger game, but pricing models as low as the one affecting this game make standalone, bite-sized ideas seem less doomed to fail as they might have been in bygone eras. It would be unfair to compare Moke Moke to more dedicated quick-play efforts, but the reality is you're much more bound to flee from Moke Moke than move in its direction.

    Lighthearted in its appeal, Moke Moke is one of those games that portray the mysterious going-ons of playful creatures in the absence of watchful eyes. Yes, the very same tales that tell of squirrels chucking acorns at each other in custom games of dodgeball, and sharks try to salvage gambled chips in undersea games of poker -- only, those sound like events you'd actually want to sit in on, while Moke Moke is comparatively a lesser foray.

    Not needing anything more than a wooden mallet, players take control of creatures that are a cross between bird and penguin, potentially with some owl DNA in there as well. The gist of the game is to escort gems, rubies and other treasures into a chest that pops in and out of the playing field. Presses of the A Button are used to flap your wings, B is for attacking, and the D-Pad controls movement (with Down triggering a quick drop in altitude). Sounds easy enough, right? Right. Don't expect me to now follow-up with some affirmation that there's a chaos created as the four players fight for points, or that some special event is triggered to dismiss possible stagnation. The truth is that aside from a ball of lightning that stuns all other players, the setup and process are entirely as straightforward as they sound.

On the positive swing of things, there are five additional rule sets to check out. Golden Goal plays like Normal Mode but with two goals instead of one; and Runaway Goal entrusts two players with the goal, forcing them to avoid the other team every other 30-second block before the roles are reversed. In Treasure Run, you can only accumulate points if you have the treasure (later becomes two) in your possession, while Hold the Bomb is basically a game of Hot Potato that similarly starts with only one explosive but introduces a second later on. And finally, Color Change plants an arrangement of fruits for you to claim, with points being cashed in according to a timer that follows a rate of what works out to be every nine seconds.

    These are fair inclusions, but the action is still too plain for the game's own good. And this is even with the mid-way changes in elements to manage, whether that be another bomb, another treasure, or another goal. The Mario Party-like bonus awards at the conclusion of a full session don't add much nervousness, either. Because the layout of the playing field is unchanging in its small size, the main offset in gameplay comes from seven stage variations, which are basically environmental gimmicks put in place to add some strategy. These include teleporter doors, bubble shooters, auto-rotating cannons and falling bombs. Ultimately, even with these present, much of the challenge, and really any strategic promise, is stripped away due to the setting still remaining basic in form. If there were more obstacles in place to create a maze of sorts, or even just a better-scaled environment that isn't so cramped, then this discussion would not be had. It's usually two planks that divide the field, but that's hardly a worthy application of design, given the measly effect it has on how players interact with what little is presented.

Much like the gameplay, Moke Moke's presentation won't manifest a hook, even in a subtle sense. The sprites are average, if a bit crude, but the teleporters and award trophies animate smoothly, and they are about as close as this game gets to standing out. As I pointed out earlier, this isn't a case of scenery that expands or sees to improvement as you go along or participate in other modes, so the background will continue to not trigger any kind of response from players. The only aspect that will actually prompt a reaction is the second-rate nature of background music that's unlikely to incite panic, as well as the grating and robotic announcer (who I imagine is in cahoots with the host of Smart Girl's Playhouse Mini, as they share the same vocal traits). 

    While I'm not against Moke Moke, I have a hard time seeing what the gameplay translates to, if anything. Moke Moke would've done better for itself if it came out in another time, as it feels like a compact effort you might have seen on the Game Boy. My main reason for saying that, though, is because in the here and now, it pales in comparison to almost anything out there. Even viewed on its own merits, it's served in such a bland state that I can't see anyone deriving much enjoyment from it, either in brief or looking over the continual draw of competition among friends. As it is a completely vacuous set of contests with little drive or anything to be taken in by, I would advise not to say "Okie-doke" to Moke Moke.

15/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 5/10 - Plain ideas that feel out-of-date, gimmicks added for variety sake, not much strategy present, state of playing field is a tad concerning
Presentation 6/10 - Basic animations and physical objects, setting remains uninteresting, not helped much by its choice of music, grating announcer
Enjoyment 2/5 - Bland and vacuous, minimal interaction, little effort to incite panic, tension only created due to environment's size and emptiness
Extra Content 2/5 - Multiple rule and stage variations present, morsels of fun for multiplayer competitions but still short-lived

Equivalent to a score of 50% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Moke Moke
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