One of the easier things to do as a gamer is look at an unfamiliar game and assume its difficulty (or level of mature content) based on design alone. Doki Doki Literature Club is infamous for this aspect, and long before it, Conker's Bad Fur Day caused quite a stir in the gaming world. When finding Mochi Mochi Boy on a lazy weekend afternoon, I made this same assumption: the cute and cuddly visuals are probably indicative of its casual level of difficulty. But like the food item the game is based on, there's more to this experience than a simple-looking treat.
Mochi Mochi Boy is available on Steam for your regional pricing.
One quality of Mochi Mochi Boy worth noting is that it is arcade-inspired. Like with the game's visuals, one shouldn't assume that means it will have no story to speak of, but the likelihood of a "pick-up-and-play" approach increases upon fitting this moniker. This is succinctly so with this title; there is no story to speak of, other than two humanoid/neko characters giving you instructions and then making everything readily available. While normally the review hierarchy dictates that story come before gameplay, there is simply nothing to report on that distinction.
On the most basic level, Mochi Mochi Boy is a puzzle game about filling in gaps. This incredibly simple direction is made eight-times harder when the rules to "Snake" are also implemented. The incredible stretchiness to the controllable mochi substance serves as an immovable obstacle that the player must strategize for. Some levels don't provide enough space for this to be an issue, though such levels are very few in quantity.
If this game really were invented around the time that arcades were a cultural mainstay, not only would it be massively successful in taking one's money, it would likely be heralded as a classic. Its level of simplicity makes anyone capable of picking it up, while the chibi-esque, colorful graphics adds extra zest to its appeal. Mochi Mochi Boy is insanely difficult, with a five-floor "dungeon" being a challenging task to even the most experienced puzzle-game veteran.
From what I can gather, as one chooses between a five and thirty-floor dungeon (separated by five-floor increments), the levels begin incredibly simple, then shoots up in difficulty the closer one gets to the endpoint. When I say "shoot up," I mean like a rocket launching into space. The first three levels in a five-floor set generally aren't much of a hassle, but once it hits level four, I'm lucky if I even get to the fifth. Playing through the game on multiple occasions, I beat a five-floor set twice. And that's just one game mode.
Mochi Mochi Boy provides six game modes from the very start. One is the "classic" fill-in-the-gap gameplay its going for. Another adds traps such as spikes and bombs onto each level. A third randomizes the spaces each level contains. These differences seem enough to distinguish the game is many facets, but it is unfortunately not so. Of the modes available, only one changes the way the game is played—and only slightly. The game modes that turn on traps offer a little more of a challenge to completing a level; however, it's akin to wiping down a clean table: it doesn't seem necessary. It's a stretch to say that the game becomes more dimensional with additional game modes when none of them really changes the approach to gameplay, only hindering the speed at which one traverses it. The one I found myself most enjoying was the "Sprint" mode, where one can attempt to play all 150 levels in one go (never made it past level ten).
On another negative note, and perhaps this is intentional, but there doesn't seem to be a middle ground to this game's difficulty. Levels are either laughably easy or extraordinarily tough. Going through levels within the Sprint mode, the first seven or so are just simple. Fill in all the furthest spaces, then swirl until the middle. It isn't until the walls are removed that the game turns bonkers, and dumb luck always seems to accompany my success. If that isn't enough, the player is timed throughout the entirety of the game, prompting rash decisions (definitely intentional). This hot-and-cold approach to the game's difficulty could likely turn off many players.
At the end of the day, Mocho Mochi Boy doesn't really have a lot of content. A five-floor set, depending on one's success, could range from five to ten minutes. Other game modes would likely be longer (especially Sprint), but it would take one a miracle to complete it all in one go, or so it seems. Other than that, there's nothing to do, except collect slimes, which serve as collectible trophies for playing the game. They aren't worth the hassle, though do serve to sprinkle more of the game's cutesy appeal. It isn't a bad game, and the game can be fun when conquering a difficult level. I only wish there was more to do and a more noticeable ramp of difficulty to climb.
Graphics & Audio
If the developer of this game decides, for whatever reason, to give up game design, they could make an excellent chibi artist. Mochi Mochi Boy has a very expressive and colorful aesthetic that boosts the morale of the player just by enjoying the over-the-top expressions of the humanoid/neko characters and the mochi itself. The game seems to exude the power of simplicity in every category: gameplay, design, and intention. While I don't think the slime collecting is enougn motivation to make the game wholly replayable, it is fun to look through the different slimes one collects. Some are even easter eggs towards various forms of media and such (including an obvious Mario & Luigi reference). Practically, the design is also easy to register, making things such as traps, non-accessible spaces, and special spaces simple to spot.
The soundtrack to Mochi Mochi Boy is very small. There are probably more than three tracks to its name, but I don't remember more than three tracks. Yet, those three tracks are really catchy, both emphasizing the game's funny nature and unsuitably hyping the importance of the game. It almost sounds like it belongs in a high-velocity racing game or something more carnival-like. Something like a smorgasbord of jazz, orchestration, pop, robo-techno, and all-around giddiness doesn't really match the act of filling in spaces, controlled by clicking directional arrows repeatedly. It's both hilarious and phenomenal. The main menu music alone makes this game noteworthy.
A difficult game is a difficult sell (at least in some fashion). Mochi Mochi Boy has a decent core gameplay mechanic that works in conjunction with its artistic aesthetic and the energy it provides. Unfortunately, the lack of overall content and the striking difficulty jumps makes this an arcade game of the highest caliber: hundreds of attempts with little payoff. If you pitch your tent within the arcade scene, this game is a must-buy, and a good value for its price. Hard to say the same for anyone else.
|+ Core gameplay is decent fun||– Insane difficulty jumps|
|+ Artistic direction is wonderful||– Low replayability|
|+ Soundtrack is catchy (albeit limited)||– Lack of meaningful content|