Review: Moco Moco Friends and the power Plushkin girls

We all have that friend who magically floats through life. They possess such character flaws that you’re amazed they’re a success, let alone survived. Moco, star of Moco Moco Friends, is that friend. You’ll follow her adventures, baffled by her good fortune, yet also love and root for her in hopes she’ll beat the odds. In the same way, you’ll come to appreciate and enjoy this little Pokemon-a-like and wish it well.

Moco is a young girl who barely graduated from a special academy in the hopes of becoming a Plushkin Master. (It’s seriously a miracle she made it.) Certain women in the world of Dreamtopia are capable of harnessing Dreamtropy energy. This allows them to befriend creatures known as Plushkin and exist in a symbiotic relationship. The Plushkins use their masters’ Dreamtropy for special attacks and their masters use these powers to run errands in otherwise dangerous areas.

moco moco friends 3

While they are charming, living stuffed animals, Plushkins are far from passive toys. They can be quite dangerous, especially if corrupted by impure energies. It’s hard to believe, given how cute these critters are, but true. Some of these enemies, which almost always show up in groups of three, are lethal.

The level of care in creating these precious babies is extraordinary, especially considering this was clearly intended to be a game to appease grade school girls.

They’re also adorable. Incredibly so, in fact. The detail in each Plushkin is extraordinary. While generic critters like Flashmo and Nomo look like the lovechild of Oogie Boogie and the Kool-Aid Man, many Plushkins are intricately rendered toys. Players see every stitch, button and accent. Even the different fabric types show through in the character models. The level of care in creating these precious babies is extraordinary, especially considering this game was clearly intended to appease grade school girls.

moco moco friends 4That effort isn’t the only thing that suggests Nippon Columbia had a hidden agenda with Moco Moco Friends. It is absolutely a game for children, with the characters using, “Paprika!” as a greeting, villagers that resemble children more than actual kids like Moco and Nene and systems that constantly rewarding people with fame and bonus items for performing rudimentary quests, visiting a garden and even logging in. When evolving a Plushkin, the game doesn’t suggest doing so because it will make them more formidable. No, it says, “There may be some Plushkins that look cuter after their evolution!” In spite of all this, there are nods to the older audience.

Most notable is Michiru, the Plushkin Master who took Moco on as an apprentice. While she, and many of the other characters, obviously care for Moco, there are situations where they’re good-naturedly laughing at the oblivious child. The subtle, snarky surprises add an extra nuance to the game. It’s like the bear joke in Inside Out or Hamm telling Mr. Potato Head that those weren’t “Lincoln logs” in the sandbox. It’s the equivalent of a nod and wink from Nippon Columbia and Aksys Games that lets the player know it’s okay to enjoy Moco Moco Friends no matter what their age.

Especially since this can be a rather strategic affair, despite calling out to kids. Moco will head into randomized, relatively simple dungeons to complete requests for characters, befriend new Plushkin, and find resources. Battles against wild Plushkins and opposing Plushkin Masters pop up. Like Pokemon, Moco Moco Friends‘ Plushkins and their special moves can have types assigned to them.

moco moco friends 2

Instead of each character having a usage limit on moves, it’s tied to Moco’s magic. She has a certain number of points each turn, which can be increased by Plushkins not using special skills or temporary periods where there’s no limit on Dreamtropy energy. While this does allow for more freedom and a safety net, since every move has the potential to always be available, it also requires a person to plot out proper power usage for every round. Determining a character’s type isn’t always as easy as it is with Pokemon and some bosses can be more formidable than they seem.

Moco Moco Friends is for people who would like to spend an entire day cuddling and petting a dragon that looks like a giant, winged puppy.

Moco Moco Friends can easily be compared to one of those freemium games. It has all the hooks one would expect from such a thing. There are adorable characters, multiple incentives, an ability to exchange different sorts of yarn to create new friends, and various Plushkin and item improvements. Unlike those bait-and-switch games that lure you in with promising options, Moco Moco Friends wants you to enjoy everything as much and often as possible.

moco moco friends 1

Yes, it will wear thin on some people. It isn’t a game for those who irritate easily due to a number of annoying characters and focus on adorable aesthetics. Moco Moco Friends is for people who would like to spend an entire day petting a dragon that looks like a giant, winged puppy. If the idea of that is acceptable to you, then it’s time to sew some friends on your 3DS.

Score: 7/10
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Developer: Nippon Columbia
Platform(s): 3DS
Questions? Check out our review guide.
A review copy was provided by the publisher or developer for this review.

Questions? Comments? Talk to us on Twitter or Facebook!