Doshin the Giant

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Doshin the Giant

Format: GameCube Genre: God Game Released: 2002 Developer:Nintendo

I’ve got to admit that this game was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s obviously a kids’ game, and I obviously wasn’t a kid when I was playing it, but let’s face it, kids shouldn’t get to have all the fun.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

Doshin the Giant managed to suck me into its world entirely. At its core the game is incredibly simple, yet somehow utterly compulsive: you play a friendly yellow giant whose aim is to help four tribes scattered across several islands. The villagers’ requests are pretty simple – they generally amount to raising or lowering the ground or moving trees about – and every time you help them out they send a bit of love your way. The more they love you, the bigger you get, so that by the end of each ‘day’ in the game Doshin is usually towering above even the highest mountains. However, come the next day, he always reverts to his original size, although all the changes you made to the islands remain the same.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

A lot of the game’s charm comes from its visual appeal – all primary colours and smiling faces. More than anything though, it’s the sound effects that wormed their way into my head: there’s no music as such, but the background noise is a symphony of birdsong, animal noises, the lapping of the sea and the weird, high-pitched mewlings of the villagers. The whole soundscape is strangely hypnotic and relaxing: playing Doshin is almost like undergoing brain massage. Click on the video below and you can hear what I mean for yourself:

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

It’s not perfect of course – the simple concept, although appealing, ultimately becomes repetitive – but it’s the way this game made me feel that ensures its place on the list. As you make your way from village to village, planting and landscaping, you can’t help but build up an affection for your tiny wards, and there’s a sense of fatherly pride as you watch your little denizens go about expanding their villages and building monuments in your honour.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

But there’s the catch – the ultimate goal of the game is to get the various villages to build all 15 possible monuments, but only half of these are ‘love’ monuments. In order to get the remaining ‘hate’ monuments, you have to terrify your villagers by tapping the shoulder button and turning into Jashin the Hate Giant, allowing you to destroy the villages and murder the inhabitants.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

After nurturing my villagers for so long, watching their families grow and listening to them burst into cheerful song at my approach, I was quite reluctant to rain down fiery destruction upon them, yet it was the only way to proceed. As they ran in terror while I systematically destroyed their houses, I couldn’t help but feel terribly guilty – and there are very few games I’ve played since that have managed to provoke such emotion.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

Who’d have thought a kids’ game could be so provocative?

ActRaiser

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A fine blend of an action side-scroller & Populous-like god game rolled into one game. ~Honorabili

ActRaiser

In ActRaiser, you take the role of a sleeping god which has just woken up after thousands of years to find that in your absence the whole world has gone to utter crap.

ActRaiser Title
ActRaiser Title

There are multiple stages (countries) in the game and the first stage consists of you manifesting an avatar in an action side-scroller game to fight your way through some monsters, kill a boss and liberate the land. After doing that you enter a god-mode game similar to Populous where you control a little angel cherub and you fight cute monsters and help guide the civilization level of the people of that country. Some plot device happens and then you must fight the final boss in order to free that land from monsters completely.

Once you’ve done that, so long as you met all the other objectives regarding you gifting people items/technology, that country will grow to its max population/civilization level. The more population you have in a country, the more followers you have, giving you the ability to level up (you only level up that way, not by killing stuff).

The game was written by Quintet, published by Enix (Square Enix) in 1991. There is a sequel that sucks, so just stick to the original. The game originally came out on the Super Nintendo, in 2004 released as a game for mobile phones, and in 2007 re-released on the Wii.

Fun Factor, Replayability, & My History With This Game:

I’ve played this game over 30 times since the early 90s. Although the game is rather simple, it has its own style and I play it at the bare minimum once or twice a year. It only takes me about 2-3 hours to play and beat the entire game. I keep coming back because I consider it a classic.

The action side-scrolling reminds me of a simpler Castlevania or Lionheart kind of game. The god mode game is like Populous except that it’s simpler but it’s fun watching terrain blow up and having your followers find stuff around the map.

After years of playing this I give Fun Factor a score of 7 out of 10. If you are playing it fresh, you’d probably say it’s worth an 8 out of 10. Replayability for me gets a score of 6 out of 10 as well.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Overall, the game is rather easy.

ActRaiser Ending
ActRaiser Ending

It could be that I’ve played it too many times and I know all the spots that enemies in the action game will attack from as well the attack patterns of all the bosses but even when I first played the game in the early 90s, the game was not too challenging. You can ignore most enemies in the action levels and there’s only really one challenging boss, the Dragon. Two of the other bosses are not so much hard but more annoying and the strategy to beat them is simple.

The god game part is super easy so long as you listen to what your followers want and shoot mainly the bats and white dragons they auto build everything themselves.

Difficulty gets a score of 3 out of 10. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 3 out of 10 as well because some parts get tougher slightly but the overall difficulty is the same throughout most of the game.

Value:

Most people will now be playing this game on ZSNES, the SNES emulator, probably playing a ROM they downloaded off the internet. If that’s the case the game is then free, giving Value a score of 10 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are rather simple in this game but they are satisfactory. For me, the best sounds come in the god mode when you kill monsters and blow up their lairs. For some reason the sound that happens when your population expands has stuck to my head all these years. Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music for this game is really nice and although it’s not as popular as let’s say the music of the Final Fantasy games, it still does get remixed quite a bit. If you want to check out some of the remixes, click here to download some at ocremix. The best songs are the main action stage song that happens in the first levels, god mode town song, and the song that gets played when one of your followers invents “music”. Overall, I give the Music a score of 8 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

On the original SNES, I’ve never seen this game crash. I’ve never seen the emulated version crash either. Nothing to complain about here. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are pretty straight forward. The arrow keys/thumbpad move you in the direction you want. In action mode, one button makes you attack with the sword, another jumps, another detonates your magic attack. In god game mode, one button fires the cherub’s arrow while the other brings up the god powers interface screen. The only real problem I have with the gameplay and controls is that your avatar in action side-scroller mode can’t block. A lot of the gameplay comes down to just sheer chopping and jumping out of the way. The game I find easy, so it’s just me complaining, really. Controls get a score of 8 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

ActRaiser was well coded and both in the original and emulated version you have no problems with the game engine not being able to catch up to the action. The performance is fluid. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Since there are different modes to this game, let’s talk about the graphics for each one. The action sequence has really nice graphics for a 1991 action side-scroller. In the god-mode, the graphics look cute, even for the monsters as well as the little flying cherub that kills stuff for you. For 1991, this game gets a Graphics score of 9 out of 10.

Conclusion:

ActRaiser is a classic game for the SNES. If you are a fan of side-scrollers, you should check it out. If you also like games like Populous, although it’s very dumbed down in ActRaiser, you should also check it out. Overall, if you consider yourself a loyal SNES player, you should play this game as people who grew up playing the SNES are all very fond of this game.