The world of Dreamtopia is a magical place where humans live side by side with sentient stuffed toys known as Plushkins. Moco (the titular heroine who is named after the Spanish word for snot) is a young witch who resides in the aforementioned realm. She recently graduated from Plushkin Magic School, where she learned how to enslave adorable critters and force them to do her bidding. Armed with an army of cute servants she patrols the kingdom’s various dungeons eliminating any dark vortexes that manifest. Purging the land of these mysterious anomalies is of paramount importance given the effect they have on local wildlife. If a Plushkin comes into contact with said portals they immediately enrage, making them almost as violent as Mel Gibson getting pulled over by a Jewish copper.
Moco Moco Friends is a turn based RPG were you traipse through randomly generated levels beating up any stray Pokemon… um Plushkins that you encounter. Much like in Game Freak’s popular franchise, the 120 creatures available to capture come in various elemental flavours. You all know the drill by now. Light attacks receive a damage boost when targeting dark Plushkins whilst fire attacks are ineffective against water types. The similarities between Moco Moco Friends and titles featuring Pikachu are uncanny, although the action plays out a little differently. Battles against enemies require that you summon three Plushkins onto the field, with the fourth slot of your team being reserved for a substitute you can call in at the start of each turn.
It is said that money doesn’t grow on trees, but apparently textiles grow on cacti. When navigating a dungeon be on the look out for prickly plants because Moco is able to transmute flora into buttons and fabrics by using her trusty feline headed staff. These materials can be used back at home to sew anything from health restorative waffles (extra syrup on mine please) to enchanted gems that can make Plushkins evolve into a stronger form (I wonder if these cotton stuffed animals are related to Freeza.) During her travels Moco can also procure seedlings, which can be planted at her garden. After a ten to twenty minute wait seeds will sprout into flowers that can be harvested to earn additional crafting ingredients.
Although the game is a shameless Pokemon clone I think Moco Moco Friends is worthy of three and a half stars. From a gameplay perspective I preferred managing a party of three characters to the one on one duels Pokemon is famous for. As someone who is pressed for time I also appreciated that the two floor dungeons can be briskly cleared. Much less frustrating than getting lost for hours in a vast cavern where endless waves of Zubats assault you every time you take a step. Adding to the game’s fun factor are the cutesy visuals, jovial tunes and a charming cast of characters. Moco is a dim-witted sleepy glutton whilst her pals include a spell caster who yells out Sumo battle cries whenever she is frustrated and a giant canine that suffers from phalacrophobia.
My only real complaint with Moco Moco Friends is that after a few hours it begins to feel a tad repetitive. Clearly this is one of those handheld games that should be played in short bursts. Another disappointment was the title’s lack of challenge. Providing that you carry sufficient healing items you can pretty much neglect the tactical nuances of countering foes with attacks they are weak against. All that said I can pardon the developers for making things too easy as the title is targeted at youngsters. Moco Moco Friends is a 3DS release I would recommend to any parents who have a daughter that has expressed an interest in playing daddy’s RPGs. She can give this lovable adventure a go and if she manages to complete it you can then promote her to something slightly more taxing like say… Bloodborne.