I would be more surprised if you've heard of this system than if you've heard of this game. Doshin The Giant did come out in Europe for the Nintendo Gamecube, so at least there is a higher possibility of hearing about it. But that's not the version we're talking about. We're talking about its original, Japanese release on the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD. It's probably one of the few times the system of origin is more obscure than game itself. So it's hard to talk about Doshin without a little bit of background information on the 64DD.
The Nintendo 64DD was a highly anticipated add-on for the Nintendo 64, announced in 1995 and expected to release by the end of 1996. Nintendo's biggest reservation with CD technology was load times. It's the main reason the N64 stayed a cartridge system in the first place. Companies were jumping to Sony, who's CD's were less expensive to make, held 700 MB compared to an N64 carts max of 64 MB. To combat this, the 64DD disks would be cheaper to produce, hold 64MB as standard, and would load almost as fast as a cartridge. On top of that, the system would have internet capabilities, with a modem going in the cartridge slot. Unfortunately, the system was delayed for several years, debuting only in Japan in 1999. By that point, the world was focused on the Dreamcast and PS2, so it saw a very limited release and ended up with only 10 disks ever released. I say disks because not all of them were games, and some are hard to categorize. There's the Randnet Browser Disk, Mario Artist Paint, Polygon, and Talent Studio's, Mario Artist Communication Kit, Sim City 64, Japan Pro Golf Tour 64, F-Zero X Expansion Kit, Doshin The Giant, and Doshin The Giant "2" as it's called, but we'll get into that later. Out of all of those games, Doshin The Giant was the most original game on the system. It wasn't a sequel or an expansion like many of the other games. Doshin was an original IP, and it's a shame he's not around today, because Doshin The Giant is truly a unique experience.
In Doshin, you play as the titular giant who is the god of an island full of villages and villagers. Villages can spawn anywhere on the island, and are run by different races of villagers. Villagers can either wear red, blue, green, or yellow, and depending on who starts the village, the village flags are different colors. For example, if your village is started by a group of all blue people, then the village flags will be all blue. If green, yellow, and red villagers start the village, then the flags will be green, yellow, and red. This is important because the colors on the villages flags mean that they will build a certain monument in your honor if you meet the conditions. A yellow and blue village will build the yellow and blue specific monument, for instance. The ultimate goal of the game is to have the villagers build all 16 monuments. There are two ways to do this: Help the villagers, or make them fear you. As Doshin, you must help the villagers complete tasks by morphing the land by pulling up on it with the A button or stomping it down with the B button, and by making the world greener by moving trees to their village. The villagers will indicate what they want Doshin to do, and Doshin does it. However, with the touch of the R button, Doshin will turn in to Jashin, an evil red giant that can jump higher, can't pick things up, and uses the A button to destroy everything. If you help as Doshin, you get gratitude in the form of hearts. Every 21 hearts Doshin gets, he grows in size. The bigger Doshin gets, the faster he moves, and he can possibly kill villagers if he steps on them after a certain size. Likewise, Jashin can get the fear of the villagers by destroying their homes in the form of skulls, and grows with every 21 skulls. And Jashin can get the 16 monuments by having them built out of fear as well, so it's all about how you want to play the game.
This may sound fairly complex but it's surprisingly simple to get a full grasp of once you get to see it all. Of course, it's just fun to walk around in this game and morph the island, so you don't really have to bother yourself with completing the main task at hand immediately to get enjoyment out of Doshin. If you hold Z and press either A or B, Doshin will do this waving arm thing where he magically raises and lowers the land, respectively. You can morph the map to whatever shape you want, even raising the land from under the water. Theoretically, you can turn the entire map into one square land mass, or one square ocean. It's a ton of fun just mold the world into anything you want, but it's is also strategic in getting the monuments built. One thing about this game that infuriates me to no end is the ability for the villagers to get lost. For some reason, I know not why, villagers can quite literally just quit what they are doing and run towards the top left corner of the map. This frankly obnoxious quirk means you'll spend a lot of time walking around, finding the top left spot of the island where the villagers are endlessly running at the border between land and ocean. Villagers can't swim, thank Doshin, so you can easily trap the village by lowering the land around it enough to be submerged in water, effectively making a mini-island. So escapees are easier to contain and trust me, you want Doshin to walk as little as possible. Doshin has the speed of a snail when you start, but after two or three rounds of hearts, he becomes manageable. But make sure you get the most out of him when he's large enough to be useful. You see, Doshin runs off a day system, similar to Pikmin. At the end of every day, the villagers go to sleep and the Doshin you're playing as dies. Every morning, Doshin is reborn anew, back to his starting size and back to making villagers happy to improve your speed.
Despite these complaints, I love Doshin The Giant. There isn't a single game out there that plays like it. There's a sense of progression with the monument building, but also a sense of open freedom with Doshin's morphing abilities. Those two things hardly ever mix. In Minecraft, you don't have to progress in killing the Ender Dragon, you can stay at home and make more carpet for your skull fortress. In Shenmue, you don't have to avenge dad right away, you can spend your entire Shenmue life spending 100 yen a minute on toy capsules. In Doshin, you can't really do anything worthwhile besides getting the villagers to build you monuments, so you're constantly moving towards that goal. It's like the left to right progression in a Mario game, crossed with free world altering of Minecraft. This theory holds true for the post game, which I dub the "second quest". After you beat the game, Doshin is put on a new island where the villagers can group together however they want and build monuments in the same fashion. Only now, they build the same condo-style monument no matter what, and it can be done endlessly. It holds that same principle of progression, but now there's no major end goal. Which is alright if you're like me and just like helping the people out and kill time.
Also, you do need at least one of these post game monuments to complete Doshin The Giant "2". It's not actually called Doshin The Giant 2, but it's the shortest name and gets to the point. It's an expansion mini-game of sorts called "Doshin The Giant: Tinkling Toddler Liberation Front! Assemble!". It's a game where you must talk to people by peeing hearts on them, and then they'll ask you to put in Doshin 1 to check for monument data. If you meet the requirements, you'll get to see a 30 second animation on Doshin 1. Rinse and repeat for all of the monuments in the game. I won't go too much into detail, as I have never played this game, but I will be getting it in the next couple of weeks, so maybe I'll talk about that one then. But for now, let me give Doshin The Giant on the 64DD a solid recommendation. It's fun, creative, and everything you could ever want on the 64DD. If you have one, why haven't you bought Doshin yet? If you have a Gamecube that can play European games, I'd have to recommend it on there as well.
FINAL VERDICT: If you have the means to play it, get it
ONE SENTENCE REASONING: Doshin The Giant is a unique experience that I promise you won't find anywhere else, and is a solid way to spend a week.