Doki Doki Poyatchio

Doki Doki Poyatchio (どきどきポヤッチオ) - PlayStation (1998)

Doki Doki Poyatchio (どきどきポヤッチオ)
Developer: Studio Saizensen/M2
Release Date: 1998
Platforms: PlayStation

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Doki Doki Poyatchio is an early example of a “slow life” RPG, which focus on idyllic rural life and character interaction, similar to Harvest Moon. You take on the role of a young boy named Jean on his summer vacation, sent to work for a month at his cousin’s bakery in the town of Puel Cordan. On a day-by-day basis, you’ll be delivering bread and running other errands, but you can also stop and talk to the townsfolk. There are twenty-five other characters living in the town, each with their personalities and daily schedules, and different attitudes towards you depending on how you treat them. The game boasts more than 1,000 different events, depending on the day, time, and character, making for a rich adventure that can work out differently every time you play it.

Of the citizens, six of them are girls around Jean’s age, who you can engage in an innocent summer romance. Among these are Luffee, who’s studying to be a witch; Chain, who loves tinkering with machines; Marin, a tomboy who loves fishing; Lina, a sickly girl who likes reading; Piaa, an arrogant girl who sees herself as Luffy’s rival; and Cynthia, a serious girl studying to be a judicial officer. The artwork is by Umihara Kawase illustrator (and Studio Saizensen founder) Toshinobu Kondo; Marin also resembles the titular protagonist from that game.

Though you have a life meter, there are no battles, as this just refers to your energy as you run around town. Running out of energy means collapsing and ending the day early. Each in-game day takes about 20-30 minutes, but when spaced out over a month, that means each run through can take up to fifteen hours, which is a long time meant for a game that you’re meant to play over and over. Interestingly, to reduce load times, the game streams data from the CD; if an area isn’t ready, your character trips and falls, giving time to load.

Doki Doki Poyatchio received a spiritual successor with Sega’s Japan-only PSP game Shining Hearts, also developed by Studio Saizensen. This game also has you delivering bread and winning over local girls, though it has more traditional RPG elements like battles. Some characters from Doki Doki Poyatchio also appear in other games – Luffee pops up in the cute-em-up Cotton Fantasy, Piaa makes in appearance in the fighter Blade Strangers, and both (along with Marin) appear in the multiplayer brawler Umihara Kawase BaZooka!

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