STAFF REVIEW of Mokoko X (Xbox One)

Thursday, April 28, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Mokoko X Box art I can’t even remember the last time I saw a game like Mokoko X. It's been a good while but if I had to guess, it would probably be back in the 90’s when Gals Panic was released and was quite a unique gaming experience for its time. Inspired by arcade games from the 80’s and 90’s, Mokoko X isn’t the type of game we see on console very often for a few reasons. While its gameplay is simple in premise, games like these are usually known for their provocative undertones, though you can rest assured, Mokoko X is clean and has no adult content aside from some suggestive poses and dialogue.

Doing some research trying to explain the tone of Mokoko X, I actually found the perfect terminology: Ecchi. A Japanese slang term for being “dirty”, sexy” or “naughty” without being explicit, simply being flirty and playful, usually having sexual overtones but not being outright based on that. Games like the Gals Panic series one of the earlier games that did this, letting you uncover scantily clad women to get a glimpse of their undergarments the better you did while playing. While there is an adult patch for the PC version of Mokoko X, the console version is safe from nudity, so rest assured little Timmy won’t see anything he shouldn’t aside from maybe some hints of cleavage and underwear.

Normally games in this genre has one intention; having you play to uncover the naughty picture as your reward. There’s usually no story elements at all, as you’re playing for that specific reason. Mokoko X actually does include some overall narrative as well as mini stories based on each stage’s boss. Every stage has you trying to best a boss and their minions as you uncover the playfield, but each has a story behind their character or reasoning. Are these stories absolutely absurd and make no sense but at least there’s some semblance of a narrative.

Why are you battling a demonic skull with headphones that shoots musical notes? Why did someone get turned into a mosquito to annoy people? Why are ghost pirates stuck in a house tormenting one of the girls? All of these odd questions will get answered, kind of. Main story portions will unlock after all of each girls’ levels are complete, but don’t go in expecting some exciting narrative, as you’re simply trying to save the innocent girls from the dangerous predicament they find themselves in. How that makes any sense given the gameplay I’m unsure, but you don’t question and simply enjoy the gameplay.

So to actually save these girls, you need to uncover 70% of the screen or more, depending on the difficulty you choose, with your little ship that creates lines behind it. You start out along the border of the picture, and once you press ‘A’ and venture beyond the safe boundary you’re open to being attacked. Your trail behind your ship is a line, and connect that to any border or section you’ve already uncovered and it will show that portion of the picture underneath, with your goal to uncover 75% or so usually to ‘complete’ the stage and move on.

What makes this difficult is that if you get touched by any of the enemies on screen while you’re not safe on your already uncovered portions, you will lose the whole line you were just working on and also lose one health. At first I thought it was best to try and make these huge squares and get a large portion done at a time, but that was far too difficult with all the enemies and projectiles on screen most of the time. Even if enemies touch or attack your trail behind you before you connect it to uncover, this will stop your current uncovering section as well, so you’re generally best to make small sections at a time, slowly creeping in the direction you want so you can then connect a large portion at once.

While you’re riding along the edges or portions you’ve already uncovered you’re generally safe from any attacks from the rebounding enemies, though this is tied to your shield meter. Your shield meter constantly drains, but to refill it you must uncover more portions, so you don’t want to have too much idle time as you can eventually become completely unsafe when your shield meter it drained. As long as you’re constantly working to uncover portions of the screen, even if small sections at a time, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your shield meter until you corner yourself into a small section and are waiting for a safe moment to draw your lines.

Games in this genre, at least the ones that I’ve played in the past, had your cursor as a simple glowing dot of some sorts, making it easy to distinguish where you exactly at when it gets hectic and in confined spaces. Mokoko X has you piloting a ship for whatever reason, which is essentially the same thing, but it’s harder to distinguish where your hitbox is at times given how large you are compared to the lines. You eventually get used to it, but it can be tricky figuring out how to line yourself up in between two obstacles for clearance. It’s a simple concept but can be quite challenging, especially on the final stage of each girl.

There are three different difficulty levels, each adjusting the enemies, shield and most importantly, the percentage of area required to uncover to complete the stage. Only Story Mode is available when you start, but complete each of the eight girls’ groups of levels and you’ll then unlock Arcade mode, which is almost like a hardcore mode as you’ll try to get from the first stage to the last in a single go, seeing how long you can survive.

Each of the eight girls have three levels and then a final stage, for a total of 32 levels. The first three levels will each introduce you to that stage’s boss, then the fourth stage is all the bosses at once on a much larger playfield, adding much more challenge. These final levels for each girl is where I usually had to retry a few times, as you move a bit quicker due to being zoomed out, but this also makes it very difficult to see some of the enemies’ projectiles since the camera is so far out compared to the normal levels.

Each stage’s boss is unique, quirky and has its own enemy types and attack patterns, so each level feels fresh. A few of the bosses are really unique, like adding a poison cloud behind them, shooting bouncing musical notes or pausing the game for a moment constantly due to 'lag'. There are familiar looking question mark blocks that will give you bonus points if you can ‘capture’ them by uncovering the picture around it. On harder difficulties these may have detrimental effects though, adding more challenge to possibly avoid them.

You’re scored after completing every stage based on how many lives left, how much percentage of the playfield you uncovered and more. There’s online leaderboards and you get bonus multipliers based on your difficulty level, so while there’s not much reason to play again once complete, climbing the leaderboards should be incentive enough to go back again at least a few more times. Oddly enough though, many of the leaderboards seem to be filled with bot-like names, so while I placed high on many stages, some of the other people listed were clearly bots or placeholders.

If you enjoy colorful anime waifu artwork, you’ll surely enjoy the animated picture you uncover in Mokoko X. While the artwork quality is passable, it’s also not all that impressive either. If you simply enjoy the type of gameplay these arcade games have, then this won’t even be a concern. Surprisingly there’s also Japanese and English voiceovers for the characters, and while there’s not all that much dialogue, prepare to hear the same one-liners over and over again on the stages from each boss. The voice acting itself is quite amateur at best, though the upbeat music is cute and didn’t annoy me as much as I thought it might.

While a good majority of games like these are associated with being more ‘pervy’, as you’re generally trying to uncover pictures of scantily clad women, you can tell that Mokoko X was more adult in design (it does have an adult patch on Steam) given the girls poses and some of the suggestive dialogue, it’s a fun time waster and brings me back to playing games like these back in the arcades in the early 90’s, but I can foresee many wondering what type of game this is and who would enjoy it. Possibly wait for a sale, but I'm glad to see this genre make a return.

**Mokoko X was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 5.7 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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