64DD port to GameCube: Doshin the Giant review

7 May 2006
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Doshin the Giant for GameCubeIn Doshin the Giant (AKA Kyojin No Doshin) on the Nintendo GameCube puts the player in control of the eponymous yellow giant with an auspiciously large outie belly button, and the player is given the godly power to raise or lower land to please the local island population or turn evil and wreak havoc.

System: GameCube
Genre: God game, Simulation, Strategy, Action
Release dates: March 15th 2002 (JPN), October 5th 2002 (EUR)
Players: 1
Save: 40 Blocks
Developer: Param (Marigul) / Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Kazutoshi Iida (once a pupil of Shigeru Miyamoto)
Origin: Japan
Rating: Ages 3+ OK

Doshin the Giant GameCube screenshot

The legend of a giant: Barudo is a tropical island you won’t find on any map. On this island an ancient legend is passed on from generation to generation. The legend of a giant who will appear from nowhere. This mysterious giant appears at the horizon when the sun sets and disappears when the sun goes down… to return again the very next morning. The giant is still surrounded by many more mysteries. The strangest of which is that he increases in size by absorbing the feelings of hate and love from villagers.

The giant can become immensely huge, but the next morning he will appear in his original size again. Would you like to be a giant who appears on the island Barudo? Why don’t you look around and experiment what it is you can do? You can change the terrain and create hills and mountains, jump to dent the earth with your weight, and try and help villagers so that you can grow. But don’t forget to walk around the landscapes a bit and enjoy yourself.

There’s not much in the way of goals or structure; you just wander round doing what you want most of the time, which is fun in a mellow kind of way but as you might imagine isn’t going to be for everyone. No matter how mellow you make yourself, though, there’s going to be a point in the game where you think, “humans be damned!” and start stomping on them and smashing up their houses. Do this too much and, not unreasonably, they’ll start to hate you and you’ll metamorphose from a nice happy yellow giant to an evil red angry one.

But what’s this? Yes this giant comes in two varieties. The saccharine-heavy friendly ones and the human-hating Godzilla types. Doshin the Giant lets you experience both. The player has the choice of what the outcome will be. By absorbing the love or hate of the islanders Doshin grows in size.

Doshin is the Love Giant, a yellow, featureless giant with a happy face and a few strands of hair. He is a benevolent, helpful being who, with his good actions, people show him their love, and he increases in size (only for that day, by the next day, he is back to normal size).

Doshin can transform, at will, into his evil alter ego Jashin, the Hate Giant, and has wings on its back and clawed feet. Jashin is known to be a destructive force to the natives, the exact opposite to Doshin’s nature. With his bad actions, people show him their dislike, and he increases in size (only for that day). The only thing the two giants have in common is that both have an outie belly button.

During the game Sodoru Memo will observe the history of the island and tell you what’s happening on the island as the in-game narrator. It’s clear he knows a lot, but he doesn’t speak much. He will give you general tips that will help you aid the giant…

Doshin/Jashin has a small variety of actions to perform. He can raise and lower terrain, and pick up trees and objects. The island is randomly generated, and it takes time to walk the whole island.

The four native tribes on the island are separated with the color of their clothing (red, green, yellow, blue). The objective of the game is to build monuments for the four tribes. The game is divided into days (of which the player can have an infinite number), which last 30 minutes and include changes from morning to night. In the limited time available each day you must choose a theme and behave accordingly. If you build the love or hate version of all 15 monuments, the last monument will be built.

Watch the Doshin the Giant intro video.

So how do you get these monuments built? By doing the native tribes favors they’ll love you for or intimidate them to collect their fear. First things first, how can you help? By managing to raise or lower the land, which is like playing in a sand box. There are a couple of methods one can use for raising and lowering the terrain, including using Doshin’s long arms to pull the ground up (or jump on it to lower it). You can also use magical powers to change your surroundings.

The little people may ask Doshin to bring them a tree, or to raise or lower the land. Once you react to their request, the humans will begin to work, and then form a settlement. When the settlement reaches its final stage of development, they will begin construction of a monument, which can range from a simple pile of stones to a beautifully decorated complex construction.

Doshin is a giant, but at first sight he is a surprisingly small giant, so he can’t pick up everything the people want help with. The bigger Doshin grows, the bigger things like item boxes Doshin can pick up. There are three ways to increase Doshin’s size. Doshin can perform human-friendly actions, acquiring hearts from the little people. Collect enough of these hearts and you will grow in size. Doshin can also grow by collecting skulls by doing evil deeds. When Doshin receives love or hate, in the shape of heart or skull symbols from the villagers, these symbols come together to form a ring around the screen. Complete one ring and Doshin will grow.

You’re also able to absorb paradise energy to grow bigger. You see, “Paradise” is the area on the island densely covered by trees. If Doshin lingers in this area, he will grow in size. But as he grows, the surrounding trees will disappear. The bigger he grows, the bigger the changes are in the island’s terrain. As Doshin’s steps increase in length, so does his speed, and walking the island becomes much easier. However, if Doshin gets too big, he is more likely to step on villagers or destroy their buildings. The challenge comes in keeping the Yin/Yen balance right, to achieve perfect harmony for Doshin.

The build type of the 16 different moments is decided by the combination of colors of the people in the settlement, different cultures will have different songs for you to recognize them by. You’ll need to exchange different colored inhabitants of sometimes far away villages with each other to progress. The villagers will tend to leave the group or stop working altogether and begin to play, but only when all 16 monuments have been built the ending scene will appear. This is a big part of the game strategy, to guide them so they continue to build for Doshin.

Natural disasters like wandering fires, volcanic eruptions, insect plagues, and tornado’s can do a lot of damage to not only the buildings you managed to get made, but the latter of which always kills many villagers. Unless you get there in time to lower the ground to extinguish fires, or walk into a tornado to block it from moving around the villages, which destroys everything in sight.

The game is really addictive in it’s own simple way. I would think it’s perfect for little kids too, because the villagers talk with symbols and basic language like singing, chanting, sleeping, calling for help etc. Which is a great simplified concept of communication. You can save your progress by taking a nap, so if you can overlook the somewhat slow controls and simple graphics, you’ll keep coming back for more, as long as you don’t go over the mystical and deadly edge of the world which means instant death!

Part of the experience of being a powerful giant is keeping the balance between doing good and bad throughout Doshin’s daily incarnations or you won’t progress. In the end it’s true that this God-game can be best described as: “Populous meets Mario.” Instead of buying an expensive 64DD setup just for this game I suggest importing the upgraded graphics, environment, AI and overall harder difficulty level version made for GameCube by the original team and Nintendo EAD’s Giles Goddard. This newer version went on to sell over 200,000 copies in Japan alone against the originals 15,000. After this success, as you know by now, the game even got translated for Europe into English, Italian, Spanish and French.

What are Doshin the Giant’s main features?

* Grow larger and larger by absorbing the love and hate of the islanders.

* The Love-Giant (Doshin) can even transform. What sort of character will he become?

* Help the islanders to develop their cultures and watch as they build many different monuments.

* You can raise or lower the ground to whatever level you like! What an amazing power!

Watch some evil Doshin the Giant (Jashin the Hate Giant) gameplay footage.

As a conclusion let’s rate this game on its fun-basis.

Doshin the Giant was the only original franchise to appear on the Nintendo 64 add-on disk system the 64DD back in December 1999. I’ve long since the 64DD’s demise in 2000 sold my complete collection of all nine games, but as the most unique game of the bunch, Doshin the Giant is a fun reminder of how quirky Japanese games can be.

To understand this quirky little game, one with really plain, yet stylish graphics, we need to quote the game’s lead designer Mr. Kazutoshi Iida after finishing the original Nintendo 64 add-on 64DD version. To quote: “It has taken three years of hard work here at Param (Marigul), but we’re finally able to present ‘Doshin the Giant 1’. Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo has said that computer games incorporate a world-wide common language, and ‘Doshin’ illustrates this very clearly. Personally, I’ve gained a new understanding about games as ‘a common language that supersedes not only nationality but also age’.”

The genre listed is ‘Tropical-Style Up N Down’, which may sound like a bit of a joke, but it is in fact the most straightforward way of expressing the game’s charm. You see, an integral part of the fun in Doshin comes from the big yellow giant manipulating the terrain on the game’s southern island setting. Something that might not normally seem fun, but is actually pretty addictive. Mainly because you can do as you please in this open-ended game, but you usually end up interacting with the villages in one way or another to progress the plot of collecting hearts or skulls and having monuments built in Doshin’s honor.

The 2002 port to the GameCube hasn’t exactly held up well over time with the simple graphics aging, but at its core you get relaxing gameplay surrounded by Japanese weirdness. If that’s something you feel is for you, definitely pick it up, this is a great gem for videogame collectors too. But if you’re in doubt, take a look at the above movies, because this is a hate it or love it game that in the end offers a look at a simplified, casual Black and White type-game. If anything it’s a great view at the world of import games that normally don’t show up outside of Japan.

Graphics – 5.0
There’s no fooling anyone, this GameCube port from the N64 & 64DD hardware still looks like an N64 game. Because of the game’s design simplicity, it relies heavily on the characteristics of Doshin and the villagers, who are all charming. That said, those same villagers are sprites until you zoom in and they become polygonal like the rest of the in-game graphics, as you walk through the game these same colorful visuals somehow still manage display bugs like pop-up and clipping. Still, I like seeing his reflection in the sea as Doshin splashes through the water, at least they got that right, unfortunately the rest of the game wasn’t polished at all.

Audio – 7.0
Doshin’s main theme is bombastic and sounds impressive. The overall soundtrack is just ok, though. It’s filled with cheerful, tribal, and tropical music. But strangely enough the music completely goes away as you leave a village. Leaving you alone with environmental sound effects from the sea, birds and other animals in the forest. It’s all your standard fare, but at least from time to time the game’s narrator Sodoru Memo will speak up with tips on what’s going on on the island.

Ingenuity – 7.5
A simple game that you can walk and play around in or help villagers out by moving stuff for them, in turn to show their love they will build monuments (the goal of the game) for Doshin. As a giant Doshin is a bit clumsy and will occasionally stumble and fall flat on his face, adorable, but sometimes the controls feel a bit clumsy when you’re trying to turn around in a busy village and might accidentally kill the little people! So as Doshin grows be sure to adjust the camera angles accordingly.

What little depth there is to the gameplay is in getting all these monuments built. You’ll need to speed to get more done in each day, but to increase your speed you need to grow, to grow you need to do good deeds… or evil deeds. Doshin’s alter-ego the evil Jashin (activated by pressing the left shoulder button) can receive hate, he can do different things from Doshin like flying up and crashing houses or breathing fire killing them, for which the villagers will build different monument. Different moments also depend on the location and what tribes are in contact with each other.

The interface is colorful and simple but useful, both in-game and in the menus where you can access which monuments you have discovered, how Doshin has grown every day, and what he has done in-game.

How much fun the game is to play really depends on your patience and whether or not you mind what little happens in-game (Doshin walking, him moving things, disasters that show up) takes its sweet time. Things mostly take longer when Doshin is still small at the start of each day. I personally found it relaxing to walk on a sun-lit beach and raise land to connect villagers from two islands, on the other hand you may get bored on the way from one tree to another.

Replay Value – 7.5
You’ll need to be either relaxed or patient to play Doshin the Giant through to the end. After 30 minutes, evening descends, and the giant vanishes from the island. The next day, he will appear as usual, but will have returned to his original size. At that point you can continue with the previous strategy, or try something different. This set-in-stone cycle means that you either play a repeating or very different game depending on your tactics to get all the monuments (more on that in a second). There are 49 generations of giants (yes that’s almost 25 hours of gameplay if you make it through each day) and your progress carries on from the previous giant.

If you thought 16 monuments finishes the game, you’re wrong. Without spoiling what happens I suggest you find a final flower after which another monument will be built. But even that leaves you with unlockable bonus maps. So that’s what little incentive there is to keep going after you finished the game once.

NOTE: The into English, Italian, Spanish and French translated version was only released in Europe, so if you’re not in a PAL-region (so if you reside outside Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) but still want to play Doshin the Giant, then you should try out the latest version (1.6B) of the Datel Freeloader disc that makes GameCubes region free (you can get it on eBay or at Codejunkies).


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About the author

Ferry Groenendijk By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.

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