Doshin the Giant (GameCube) Review

By Keza Macdonald 16.11.2003

Review for Doshin the Giant on GameCube

What exactly is the ultimate aim of a videogame? Gamers have become far more fastidious since the days when all games needed to be classics was a generous helping of fun. Now a game must offer something new to be considered truly great, a fact that has had developers scratching their heads in a vain attempt to come up with some sort of revolution to shake the gaming world. There seems to be but one obvious revolution left - a game in which the player has complete and utter freedom, a game whose universe is entirely shaped by the player and in which anything is possible; the epitome of interactivity. Shigeru Miyamoto has tried to offer such an experience in Animal Forest (or, as it is known on Western shores, Animal Crossing), a game in which there is no goal except to live, but before that Peter Molyneaux shook the gaming world with his new PC game, Black & White. - Review by Keza MacDonald, UK Games Editor at IGN UK.

Black & White gave the player the role of a god in control of an entire land and all its peoples, and claimed that the player could do anything they pleased. The aim was to compete against other gods to win the respect and worship of the people by either being evil and inspiring fear, or being good and inspiring love. Doshin the Giant, which was actually first released before Black & White on Nintendo's famously ill-starred 64DD, is heavily reliant upon this principle. As a giant that emerges from the sea each morning, the player must absorb the love and hate emotions of the native people on the Island in order to grow larger, and to inspire them to build monuments of hate or love to the giant.

'Be a giant, do what you want' is this game's slogan, and unlike most games that claim to offer utter freedom, Doshin does to quite a large extent. The Island is a vast and beautiful expanse of mountains and plains, surrounded by a reflective, rippling sea and inhabited by four native tribes of people. The giant can transform from Doshin, the love-giant, into Jashin, the hate giant, to explore the land and influence the people. As Doshin the giant can carry things and help to fulfil the needs of the people; as Jashin, he can 'fly' around the island and transverse it more quickly, and he is granted destructive powers with which to ravage the land. Both of them can mould the landscape; raise land from the sea, make mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and deserts wherever the player desires.

Screenshot for Doshin the Giant on GameCube

If you want, all you need to do is wander about making pretty landscapes and admiring the view from the very top of the snowy mountain at the centre of the Island. But without interacting with the people you are unlikely to get very far. The giant starts each day as a small giant who cannot even lift houses and is not much taller than the trees. In order to be able to mould greater areas of land, climb tall mountains and travel around the island at a pace greater than that of a comatose snail, the giant must grow bigger by absorbing the native humans' emotions. Help them, and they will give out hearts. Make yourself a thorough nuisance by transforming into Jashin and destroying buildings, and they will give out skulls. When a full circle of either skulls of hearts is made on the emotions counter, the giant will grow, making it far easier to do almost everything. Once the villages reach a certain size the villagers will build monuments of either love or hate to the giant. 25 of these are available from different human cultures.

Screenshot for Doshin the Giant on GameCube

One of the problems with these so-called God games is their complexity. Though probably an accurate simulation of divine responsibility, the pressure of having ten thousand things to do at any one time does not make for an enjoyable videogame. Black & White suffered from this problem. The player ended up frantically dashing between each village fulfilling the desires of each before the people died of starvation or were struck by disaster/plagued by illness/conquered /zapped/destroyed by another god. Doshin is far simpler. The villages and humans are almost entirely self-sufficient, needing the giant only to mould the land for them, start new towns and cultures, or use his tree-carrying powers to create fertile building land and dispose of dead trees. They build their own homes, do their own jobs and multiply by themselves (thankfully). If you don't feel like it, there is no need to help at all - the villagers won't die and you can always go back to them later after a nice rest or exploration. The only time that the Giant absolutely has to do anything is when a Disaster strikes the people. Even then, the player is free to let the fire, tornado or volcano engulf the village and destroy everything, but if you want monuments or emotions from the inhabitants it is best to try and limit the damage.

Screenshot for Doshin the Giant on GameCube

So freedom plays a big part in Doshin, but that does present problems. Essentially, there are no goals, meaning that the player may soon tire of exploring the island. The monuments are rather ineffective combatants to this effect; nothing really changes even when the last has been constructed, and essentially nothing really changes throughout the game. At the beginning, you can explore, make islands and grow, and ten hours later you can still explore, make islands and grow, but you are likely to get bored of doing so. The joy of this game is most definitely in the playing itself rather than in completion, and once that joy fades there is nothing more to it. Thankfully it is not likely to fade for a long time, as Doshin never loses its relaxed pressure-less feel and never becomes frustrating. It is the sort of game that will entertain years from now at the same level as it does today.

The game system, too, has its faults and is easily abused. Sadly, after prolonged play, it is easy to get bored with the 'growing' process and to rush in as Jashin and destroy something in order to gain hatred and height faster. It is also possible to get ludicrous amounts of love emotion by simply standing in the way of the villagers until they get annoyed, then moving away so that the obstruction is removed and they give out love, and doing the same until the occupants of even the surliest most fear-stricken villages are converted into giant-lovers. In this respect it is almost too simple.

A last warning must be given before you rush out and buy Doshin the Giant; bring an extra £20 with you, because this game devours memory card. Forty blocks are needed to save, and another four for each in-game photo that you deign to take. To put that into perspective, Pikmin takes 19 blocks, and Luigi's Mansion takes three. It's understandable - because every player's island will be different, moulded to his or her own taste, there is an awful lot to save… sixty quid may be a lot to pay for one videogame, but Doshin is worth it.

Screenshot for Doshin the Giant on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Like its stablemate Animal Crossing, Doshin is a pressure-free experience. It's all about freedom and space. To be fully appreciated it needs to be played at a leisurely pace, in few-hour-long instalments. It will not be to everyone's taste. But for those who want a game where they can do whatever they want, it is an unparalleled success. At its base, Doshin is a very good idea and a wonderful execution of in-game freedom, unencumbered by the complexity of its God-game predecessors. Being a dumbed-down Black & White, Doshin is not going to do anything for Nintendo's simplistic, kiddie image, but in my opinion it is better for its simplicity, and a truly commendable effort.

Developer

Param

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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