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Doshin The Giant is one of the most sought after, collectable Gamecube games, but why does this weird title remain popular to this day?
We find out on this edition of Nostalgia Obscura, our series where we shine a spotlight on the hidden gem of gaming’s past.
We look at the weird development history of this game, how it inspired huge modern series and what Doshin’s creators are up to today.
Doshin the Giant is one of the hardest Gamecube games to get hold of nowadays. Even I, curator of all things nostalgic and obscure, had to make do with this artist’s interpretation to disguise the fact I played it on an emulator. But seriously, you’d be lucky to get a copy today for less than £50, demonstrating how sought after and collectable it is.
But ask anyone what they think of Doshin, and 99 times out of 100 they probably won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. So why does it have such a cult following? Watch on to find out…
Hey how’s it going guys! This is Tom from UDS and welcome to Nostalgia Obscura, our series where we uncover the hidden gems from gaming’s past and find out why they’re worth a second look. If you’re new to the new channel you can expect plenty more all on retro classics, as well as reviews of current releases and my own personal audiovisual shrine to all things Star Wars. So if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, make sure to hit subscribe. Depending on when this video goes out, we’re either just about to hit 1000 subs, have just hit 1000 subs, or have hit 1000, then dropped back under. If it’s the last one then it’s extra important you subscribe because I’m probably crying somewhere right now, and you don’t want to see a grown man cry do you? Anyway, on with the show.
Doshin The Giant started life on the Nintendo 64DD, and that alone warrants its place on a series with Obscure in the title. The ill-fated disc add-on for the N64 was an absolute flop. Only sold in Japan, and even there only by mail order.
With the PlayStation dominating CD gaming, and cartridges still giving Nintendo respectable sales, the 64DD felt more like an experiment than anything, with only nine games released for the hardware before efforts would turn to Project Dolphin. This was the working title for Nintendo’s new gaming machine, they’re cube-like gaming machine. I think they called it the Playbox or something, I can’t really remember…
But back to the 64DD, one of the nine games released for it was indeed Doshin the Giant in 1999. As such, it started life locked to Japan, but international audiences would get glimpses of this peculiar game through screenshots in magazines like Nintendo Power.
That’s why there was definite buzz when it was announced that Doshin the Giant would be remastered for the Playbox in 2002, with a worldwide release, no less. What? They went with Gamecube in the end? I don’t see it personally.
Now that’s a brief history of what led to Doshin, but what is it all about? Well to answer that we first need to take a look at some Giants.
To say that Giants are complicated creatures is an understatement. You have the Big Friendly Giant and The Iron Giant who are friendly, nurturing beings, and even Hagrid kind of fits into that category. I say kind of because he’s only half Giant, but let’s not get into that.
In mythology most of the giants are evil beings, with Goliath and the Japanese Oni fitting that description. Oni are basically demons who are said to exist to spread misery, and they’re also pretty keen on human flesh. So, yeah, being big doesn’t mean you’re friendly.
What makes Doshin the Giant great is you get to choose which path to go down. You can be that nurturing figure for your villagers, or you can become Jashin, something akin to the demon giants in Japanese mythology, except you can’t feed on the flesh of your villagers. Unsurprisingly I think that would’ve been a tad unsuitable for the game’s 3+ rating.
Good versus evil is the age-old choice, you can progress by choosing the dark side instead of the light, just like in Star Wars. Only there are no lightsaber battles, the game’s set on a tropical island, and Doshin the Giant seems to be one of the few things that’s avoided the claws of Disney.
Your villagers are entirely dependent on you to provide them with resources and to build their life for them. The game ends when your villagers build you a monument dedicated to everything you’ve done for them. They build it out of adoration for you, and this must’ve been when my ten-year-old self became the egotist I am today. I’m actually not sure how it ends if you choose the dark side, I like to think it never does, and you wage a war against your poor villagers until your GameCube melts.
Doshin the Giant is a game with lots of issues, one of them being its short gametime, but its charm is undeniable and it was one of the earlier games to play on the good versus evil dilemma before it became a staple with games like Mass Effect, Fable, Infamous, and Red Dead Redemption.
But why did a game that was universally celebrated and so influential fall into obscurity?
Well, latest largely down to its development company Param. The studio only made Doshin and its even more obscure add-on, which to this day only released on the 64DD, before shutting up shop for good. Despite selling pretty well, it wasn’t enough for Nintendo to consider a sequel from a new studio, and so Doshin quietly fell away from mainstream public consciousness.
Of the three developers who are listed on the company’s Wikipedia page, only one of them went on to continue to work for Nintendo, Kazutoshi Iida, who contributed to some WiiWare titles. He’s now a professor of Film at Ritsumeikan University.
In a 2017 interview with the fine folk at Toco Toco TV, he talks about working on Doshin, and how he treated it like a work of art, as much as he did a game, and once you view it through this lens, it’s impossible to see it any other way. It might sound pretentious, but you don’t really play the game, you experience it. It’s a soothing, meditative journey that tackles themes of environmentalism, morality and power, without even feeling preachy.
I’ll leave you with some words of advice from Doshin’s compatriot, The BFG, ‘Two rights don’t equal a left.’
So that was Doshin the Giant! Did you play it back in the day? Would you like to see a rerelease on the Switch? Please let me know in the comments below, I would love to read your thoughts. and don’t forget to subscribe. As a small channel every interaction helps and hey, maybe you’ll enjoy what you see!
My name has been Tom, this has been Nostalgia Obscura, we’ve been UDS, and thanks for watching. See you next time!