"Moco Moco Friends" – Nintendo 3DS Game Review - LevelSkip - Video Games
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"Moco Moco Friends" – Nintendo 3DS Game Review

Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. in English and an Associate's in Computer Game Design. She is a life-long gamer.

"Moco Moco Friends" cover art.

"Moco Moco Friends" cover art.

What Is Moco Moco Friends?

Moco Moco Friends (or Apprentice Witch and Moco Moco Friends in Japan) is a dungeon-crawling role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS that was released in 2014 in Japan and 2015 in North America. It was developed by Racjin and published by Nippon Columbia in Japan, and by Aksys Games in the United States. Moco Moco Friends is set in the magical and kawaii world of Dreamtopia. Dreamtopia a magical place inhabited by Plushkins, which are cute creatures that resemble stuffed animals. Moco Moco Friends follows the story of a witch named Moco who has recently graduated from the Plushkin Magic School. Moco’s ultimate goal is to one day become the world’s greatest Plushkin Master. Does this sound at all familiar?

Promotional artwork for "Moco Moco Friends."

Promotional artwork for "Moco Moco Friends."

Plot

Moco Moco Friends follows the story of Moco, a young witch who has just finished her studies at Plushkin Magic School. Despite barely making it through school, she obtains an apprenticeship with a powerful witch named Michiru. Though she didn’t do the best in school, Moco has a certain affinity with Plushkins, who seem to adore her. Her ease at making friends with the Plushkins caught the attention of Michiru, which is how she came to be Moco’s mentor.

As happy and wonderful as Dreamtopia seems to be, Moco and Michiru soon find out that all is not well. A dark force known as Tormentrophy begins to overshadow the once happy land of Dreamtopia. Tormentrophy is made up of all the negative feelings and sadness that people in the land harbor deep within themselves. It is up to Moco and her friends to travel throughout the land to protect Dreamtopia from Tormentrophy.

Gameplay

Moco Moco Friends is a simple dungeon-crawling RPG meant for younger players. The game consists mostly of traveling to and completing different dungeons and defeating Plushkins in battle, which you can befriend to become part of your party.

During battle, your Plushkins can attack, or Moco can use an item or rearrange her Plushkins’ battle formation. You may use one item per turn during battle, and each of your Plushkin can use only one of their moves during each turn. The moves that Plushkin can use are very similar to the moves in Pokémon. Each Plushkin character is able to learn up to four moves. Like in Pokémon, you can have your Plushkins forget their older moves to learn new moves.

For players who don’t want to deal with strategizing in battle, such as extremely young or inexperienced players, there is also an “auto” option for battle, which makes the game automatically choose moves. This is optional, so you can still select moves to use as you can in similar RPGs. During battle, you will also notice that bits of stuffing start to come out of your Plushkins bodies as they take damage, reinforcing the idea that these monsters are stuffed toys.

After you defeat a wild Plushkin in battle, it will sometimes ask to make a contract with you. This allows you to befriend the Plushkin. There are certain items that you can use in battle to increase the likelihood that a certain Plushkin will ask to make a contract with you.

The dungeons are very simple and easy, so this game is suitable for younger children. In most dungeons, Moco must battle her way through a few floors before arriving at a boss battle. Most of the dungeons are pretty small, especially at the beginning of the game. You can revisit completed dungeons as many times as you want to collect items and befriend any Plushkins that you missed your first time through.

When you return to town, you will be able to train your Plushkins to make them stronger, sew net items, and grow new materials in a garden. Gururmins, the townspeople you will encounter in town, also sometimes give you side quests, so it is beneficial to talk to everyone often.

A battle-damaged Plushkin approaches Moco to become friends.

A battle-damaged Plushkin approaches Moco to become friends.

"Moco Moco Friends" Official Trailer

Similarities to Other Game Franchises

If you think this sounds a lot like Pokémon, you would be correct. This game centers around collecting different monster characters, training them in battle, and striving to become the world’s greatest master of these creatures.

Many of the designs of the Plushkins were clearly inspired by Pokémon. For example, the Plushkin, Scrunchie, looks very similar Pikachu, particularly Cosplay Pikachu.

Most of the gameplay in Moco Moco Friends revolves around exploring dungeons and battling enemy Plushkins, also, just like in Pokémon. Moco can travel with a team of up to three Plushkins in her party for use in battle, with an additional substitute Plushkin in reserve. Her remaining Plushkins are stored at the Plushkin House in town. To add additional Plushkin friends to your collection, you make contracts with certain Plushkin characters after defeating them in battle. You also have the ability to summon new Plushkins by giving yarn to Konpei, who is your mentor Michiru’s Plushkin friend. A total of 120 Plushkins can be found in the game.

Comparisons have also been made between Moco Moco Friends and another 3DS RPG that was released around the same time in North America called Yo-Kai Watch. Yo-Kai Watch was released in Japan a couple year prior, however. Yo-Kai Watch is another monster-collecting RPG video game series, which is often compared to Pokémon.

The cute, yet simple, graphical style of this game is similar to that of Yoshi’s Wooly World and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. You will notice a plethora of fabric- and knit-themed textures throughout the world of Moco Moco Friends.

The Plushkin Scrunchie bears an uncanny resemblance to Cosplay Pikachu.

The Plushkin Scrunchie bears an uncanny resemblance to Cosplay Pikachu.

My Thoughts

Though this game is extremely simple and clearly aimed at young girls, I found it to be very enjoyable. I found the obvious similarities between Moco Moco Friends and Pokémon to be endearing, though some gamers may be annoyed by this. Though the gameplay is simple, and at times repetitive, there is still enough to do in this game to keep you entertained. If you are a fan of Japanese dungeon-crawling RPGs, or simply enjoy cute games with a “kawaii” aesthetic, you will likely enjoy Moco Moco Friends.

© 2018 Jennifer Wilber