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Impressions

In Doronko Wanko You Play As A Very Naughty Little Dog, Who I Love With All My Heart

Fuck this house in particular

Doronko Wanko

I have spent a lot of time in the past week playing a little Steam game called Doronko Wanko. Which, if nothing else, has led to some awkward conversations whenever anyone here in Australia has asked me to say its name out loud.

I love it so much. You play as a very small Pomeranian, whose owners have just moved into a new, suspiciously enormous house. With the mother cooking dinner and the rest of the family out on an errand to the supermarket, you're left unsupervised in the house--full of moving boxes, fragile belongings and precariously-placed coffee mugs--and given a simple directive.

Wreck the place.

You can walk mud through the rooms. You can cover yourself in red wine then shake it off all over the beds. You can knock stuff off shelves, drag objects around, jump on sleeping humans and just generally be the worst dog ever.

The more mess you make, the more stuff you unlock, from "weapons" that make your work easier (like an elephant hat that constantly shoots water) to a collection of increasingly adorable accessories you can wear to complete your mischievous look.

There's a real Katamari Damacy energy to the thing. A feeling that you've been given access to a private world that exists at a different scale to your own, one full of the detritus of someone else's life, which has been reduced to cannon fodder for the purposes of a video game mechanic. Only instead of collecting everything, here you're simply trashing it.

And while the world is small--the game is free, by the way!--it's still a joy to explore, as you shimmy your fluffy little butt along ledges and piles of boxes to discover a house that looks like it was designed by a coffee table about architecture, and not an actual working architect (this is a good thing, it's both a lovely house and an interesting video game space to double back around and unlock new areas within!).

Nice place you've got here. It'd be a shame if something happened to it.

Weirdly, this is a game developed by a studio at Bandai Namco, but not published by Bandai Namco; instead it's been released by Phoenixx Inc., a Japanese label that specialises in indie games. It's also a game with no language settings, whose intro and some game prompts are in English, while its main menu settings and tutorial prompts are all in Japanese [Update: I'm wrong! If you go to the second tab on the options screen then down to the third field, you can toggle English, thanks Theswweet!). Which sounds daunting, but you'll get the hang of jumping, grabbing and shaking pretty much instantly.

So yeah, Doronko Wanko--I'm trying to keep direct mentions of the game's name to a minimum, since every time I have to read it I hear it in my accent and it either sounds like I'm making a masturbation joke or am sitting in the Mos Eisley Cantina--is fantastic. You play a naughty little dog who gets to make a mess, and sometimes wear cute hats, what's not to like?

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