Doshin the Giant was one of the few games to be released for the ill-fated 64DD in Japan before it dropped off the radar a couple of months ago. Param's Populous-influenced god game took a unique approach to game development, but its sales were strangled due to the platform it was released for. Proving that it's better to be late than never, Param is retooling Doshin for release on Nintendo's next-generation console, the GameCube.
Named for the sound his feet make while walking, Doshin follows the story of a large yellow giant who is trapped on an island full of natives. While Doshin interacts--either positively or negatively--with the natives, he changes form. If Doshin helps the villagers build communities, he remains in his yellow state and is awarded with hearts. If Doshin's heart meter reaches its capacity, he grows. However, a large Doshin is a slow Doshin, and he may be changed into his evil form at any time. While in his evil form, Doshin is awarded skulls instead of hearts. If his skull meter reaches the top, he will shrink. If Doshin becomes too large, he will be unable to see his feet, making stomping the villagers all the more likely.
The main object of the game is to construct buildings for the villagers. To do this, Doshin must collect the needed building materials and then deliver them to a predetermined spot. To develop an area for construction, trees must first be planted to balance the ecosystem. With the words "love" and "hate" stamped on the bottoms of his feet, Doshin will have to tread softly and carefully in the beginning of the game until he builds a level of trust with the natives. Once trust is established, Doshin may begin to help them. He may grab the ground and pull on it to create a patch of land worthy of construction or build a natural bridge between two isolated landmasses. Doshin may also stomp the ground to create craters or use his hands to smash rocks and prevent environmental disasters like volcanic eruptions. Doshin must also interact with the wildlife on the island, and, as with the natives, it's possible to build a level of understanding with them.
Thanks to the 64DD's internal clock, Doshin's world continues to change while you are not playing the game. If you refrain from playing for extended periods of time and then fire up the game, you'll find that Doshin's situations have changed dramatically, so you'll have to scramble to catch up. Since the GameCube has no internal clock functionality, this feature will likely be cut or reworked in some manner to function with GameCube's SD Digicard. Similar to what's done in reality TV shows, Doshin receives reports from the natives at the end of each day. The natives will exalt Doshin for a job well done or scold him for his transgressions against the people of the island. If Doshin continuously pleases the natives, they will build monuments of him, which are recorded in a log. There were two updates scheduled for the 64DD version of Doshin, but only one expansion was released before Nintendo dropped the 64DD. We have yet to receive a list of features for the game, so it's impossible to know if some of the ideas included in the expansions will make their way into the GameCube version.
Doshin's graphics were very poor in its 64DD incarnation. The game is plagued by simplistic models and textures, unsettling draw-in, and dodgy frame rates. If Param is hoping to impress consumers with the GameCube version of Doshin, a new game engine will most certainly be in order. The gameplay is the focus in Doshin the Giant, but it's hard to build interest among consumers in a game that is visually challenged.
Doshin's game design isn't overly innovative, and from a technical standpoint, it fell far short of its peers on the Nintendo 64. Doshin does have a solid backbone to build upon, though, so if Param wants to make waves with its GameCube god game, it will have to bring the series up to snuff on the technical end.
We'll have more on Doshin the Giant for the GameCube when it becomes available. We're hoping to receive some new information regarding the game at E3 later this month.