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SummaryBig yellow bellybutton
The GoodDoshin the Giant is quite a unique game when you consider how it came into existence. Originally a title for the Nintendo 64DD, this game never really shone in regions other than Japan and even there it remained completely unknown. The 64DD was an expansion pack for the Nintendo 64 that allowed for more impressive visuals and better performance, it had a lot of hype going, but to my knowledge the technology didn't sit well with anybody. In the end only nine or so titles were released for the system. A few years later Nintendo dusted off the IP and remade it for the Nintendo Gamecube.
So what do you do in this game? You play as Doshin, a very large, yellow giant who is a legend among the people on an island. As Doshin you can reshape the island in any way you want; you can raise and lower the ground, make mountains, move obstacles and break stuff. This is very cool because every single change you make is saved, which was the 64DD's main selling point. If you move a tree somewhere and come back several days later, that tree will still be there, but its leaves might have turned brown for example. It's a novelty, but very well implemented in the goal of the game.
The goal is to help a number of villagers build up their own towns. There are four groups of these peasants spread across the map, each with their own style of structures, that need Doshin's help with tasks they simply can't perform. When they want to build something, they will display an image over their head saying what they miss and you can get that for them. I personally found that helping these villagers had a very soothing feel to it, it was a means of relaxing to me.
Alternatively you can also decide to destroy their towns. By pressing the L-button at any point in the game will transform into a red giant with demonic wings, people will be afraid of him and they probably should. This giant can smash, burn and crush the people and their creations in mere seconds. This is on the entirely different spectrum of having fun, but it doesn't feel out of place at all. Sometimes you can also use it to your advantage, such as when a monument turned out wrong and you need to get rid of it.
Doshin himself has a certain charm to him, the design might look simplistic, but it hides more character than you could imagine. Doshin has a very clunky movement cycle and it looks very comical when he trips and falls face-first. I suppose you could say that he shares some similarities with Spongebob, especially what with the permanent smile on his face.
You can also make Doshin grow larger, which slowly unlocks new abilities. To grow bigger, you need to earn either the love or the hatred of the people on your island. If you help them, they will show their love and another heart is added to the border of the screen. If you scare them, kill them or break their stuff though, they will give you a skull which is also added to the border. Once either one of these makes a full circle Doshin will grow a size larger.
The BadThe controls often felt very clunky to me and that was a real big problem. After raising some ground for a guy who wanted to build a farm, I had gathered quite a large crowd around me. I wanted to leave though, there was an opening and all I had to do was turn around and walk away. I ended up splattering seven people instead. The biggest problem is that Doshin doesn't always turn the way you want him too. Another problem is the hit-detection which sometimes has Doshin animating like he bumped into something when passing a nearby flagpole.
The villagers are way too easily antagonized and that makes them very hard to like. When I come close to a village, there are always a bunch of lads that want to come take a look, but the second they bump into me, they are instantly scared and start running off. This game is also the most fun when you get to actually help them, but the people would rather play around all day than do actual work and if they don't work, you won't have anything to do either. There was one group of people that just kept walking around and sitting down on rocks while their village had no buildings in it and was a desolate wasteland.
When the sun goes down, Doshin goes back into the sea and comes back the next day. This is kind of nice because it shows you some statistics which display what you have been doing that day. However, you also get some comment from the villagers and this is almost always negative. Keep in mind: You are a giant that goes out of his way to show up every single day to do the work of these villagers for them, yet every night they have nothing but complaints, telling you that you're a terrible person and they want more. Combine that with the knowledge that you can transform into Satan and you will find yourself to be much more inclined to do that instead of helping ungrateful assholes day in and day out.
The Bottom LineDoshin the Giant is a game about relaxing and having a bit of fun, it's not particularly deep or well-written, but there is some entertainment to be found in helping random people build up civilizations or destroying them. The game is charming and gives you enough reason to keep coming back to the island, but I do feel like the villagers could have used a little AI-polish and the controls could have been a little less obnoxious. As it stands the game feels like a graphical update and while I clearly haven't played the original game, I think it's safe to assume that this port was a bit rushed-out.
That is however not a bad thing because the amount of people who could be insulted by this choice can probably be counted on one hand, which is also the amount of people I can actually recommend this game too. If you are a collector than Doshin the Giant is a hard-to-find, but also welcome addition to your collection, especially if you're American in which case you also gain the right to brag about it. Kids will also likely enjoy this game, but since it's rather obscure and difficult to obtain, I would sooner recommend other Gamecube games.