Saturday, April 04, 2020

Manual Stimulation: Don Doko Don (Famicom)

Don Doko Don is one of those old games that avoided pinging my radar for a lot longer than it should've done.

Granted, this series hardly is a household name outside of Japan--despite the fact that Taito, the company responsible for developing and publishing it, previously gave the world Space Invaders, Qix, Chack'n Pop, and Bubble Bobble, among other classics.

At any rate, I remained blissfully unaware of Don Doko Don's existence until sometime after I became obsessed with the PC Engine.

You see, Taito ported this single-screen platformer, which stars a pair of mallet-wielding dwarves, to NEC's diminutive console less than a year after its original arcade release in 1989, and just two months after the Famicom port that's the subject of this post.

Why didn't I hear about Don Doko Don for the Famicom before I heard about its PC Engine iteration? I haven't the slightest idea.

At any rate, and as you might suspect, the instruction manual that came packed inside copies of the Famicom port of Don Doko Don is quite similar to the PC Engine port's manual.

The two booklets aren't identical, however. Take the spread above. The pair of illustrations you see here are completely different from the ones you see on the corresponding pages of Don Doko Don's PC Engine booklet.

For the record, I prefer the unique illustrations in the PC Engine release's manual to the ones used in the Famicom release's manual.

All that said, most of the drawings in these two manuals are the same. Generally speaking, though, the ones in the Famicom manual are given a bit more space to breathe than are the ones in the PC Engine manual.

The drawings highlighted on the last few pages demonstrate to readers Don Doko Don's main gameplay loop, which involves whacking enemies with your trusty hammer, picking up their smooshed bodies, and then tossing them at other unsuspecting foes.

The next handful of spreads focus on educating players about the particulars of each Don Doko Don stage. For example, the first world is forested, contains trees that spit out baddies, and features a multi-jack-o'-lanterned boss.

The second world is filled with sweets. Apparently its floor is made of marshmallow. And its boss is a chef bear who wields wrapped candies.

Remember what I said a few sentences ago--about how the illustrations in the Famicom Don Doko Don instruction manual are given more breathing room? Nowhere is that more clear than in these pages.

All of the text and drawings that cover two pages in the Famicom booklet are crammed onto a single square page of the PC Engine booklet.

Next up are illustrations and descriptions of Don Doko Don's many enemy characters.

These descriptions are missing from the Don Doko Don PC Engine manual. All you get there are the drawings and the names.

I can't guarantee these enemy descriptions are anything even close to mind-blowing, of course, but I'd like to think they're at least interesting.

The Don Doko Don Famicom manual wraps up with a rundown of the game's numerous items.

Nifty, right? Well, just wait until you feast your eyes on the Don Doko Don 2 instruction manual. It makes this one look like something that was pulled from the gutter.

See also: other instruction manuals for Taito games like KiKi KaiKai, Parasol Stars, and Rainbow Islands

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