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DodoGo! - DSiWare Review

Game Info

DSiWare | Neko Entertainment / Alien After All | 1 Player | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points
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4th January 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Mini's has had a steady climb on the DSiWare charts since release, and 'til this day, it's still one of the most-downloaded games on the service. But along comes DodoGo! a new IP backed up by a fairly-recognizable developer if you've been tracking Nintendo's download services. At its core, the game makes use of a similar concept that's seen in Nintendo's inspired puzzler. However, if prospective consumers were to choose between Mario and a new IP, chances are they'd stick with what they feel would provide reliable entertainment value. And then there's the issue of many not even knowing that this game exists. It's a plight that really saddens me because DodoGo! is easily one of the best games available for this platform.

    The game's story surrounds a series of undeniably-cute Dodo eggs that are on the verge of extinction. As if you were the arcaeologist to prevent this from happening, your goal is to guide them through a large number of challenging puzzle-filled stages that threaten their very survival. There's a ton of obstacles that these vulnerable creatures are completely unaware of. I'd hate to be in their shoes, especially if I had a serious phobia of the outside world. These poor little guys could catch fire, fall from a deadly height, find themselves plunging down a bottomless pit, or getting eaten by a carnivorous animal. In short, the world is a scary place for them! There are many life-threatening situations they can get into, but that's where you come in!

    At the start of each level, the eggs will begin in a pre-determined spot, carefree and ignorant of the danger that's set before them. To get them moving, simply draw a line through them using your stylus, or you can even yell "Go!" into the microphone to produce a similar effect. The in-game timer only begins its countdown when you make your first move, meaning that you have time to observe your surroundings, and see what you have to work with. 

To adjust the camera's position, you can use the D-Pad or the ABYX Buttons. Alternatively, you can scroll using your stylus by dragging along the screen for a smoother movement. At the same time, the top screen will display an overview of the entire stage, showing the general layout and the position of your remaining eggs. Whenever the eggs move out of the current range of focus, icons will appear off to the sides of the touch screen to indicate if they're hurt, confused, or have suddenly taken a turn for the worse. The interface is great; not only is it easy to navigate, but the visual touches they added make it really intuitive to control.

    As I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of traps that you'll have to contend with. But thankfully, you're not without help. Each level presents you with gimmicks that can be used to guide your little friends to safety. These are visible on the top-right of the touch screen, represented by various icons. To activate them, simply press the Pause Button or the R Button. Then you'll enter into what's referred to as "Tool Mode", where the screen will sport yellow and black stripes, essentially looking like a construction zone. This theme is very appropriate, because it's through this mode that you can test out the different items at your disposal and toy with different combinations prior to finalizing your choices. 

    Some of the many objects you'll implement include a brush for creating sparks of fire or swirly clouds of dust, wooden decks that act as platforms and bridges, springs for crossing gaps, and more. If you place one of these handy enhancements on the stage and decide against it, you can use the eraser tool to get rid of it. Because you have limited resources per stage, you'll need to act wisely. And yet, at the same time, since there isn't always one right answer, players do have the ability to do some degree of experimenting. Being able to make use of these various elements and to think of different ways of coming to a solution is part of what makes the game fun and replayable.

Even with the ability to take things at your own pace initially, and plan things out carefully, your actions are guaranteed to have deadly consequences. And it's usually because of stupid little things like running out of resources, or getting ahead of yourself and not reaching an egg just before it goes careening off a cliff. If your mistakes don't cost an egg its life, it will suffer some physical damage. However, you can fix any cracks by swiping along the egg and slowly applying a bandage onto it. It's not a permanent solution of course, but it does make the eggs feel happier, hopeful that you'll guide them through the rest of the level without harming them a second time.

    From time to time, the little guys will also get grumpy, and will show this by having storm clouds above their heads, and seemingly having the blood rush to their heads. You can cheer them up by rubbing them in their sensitive spots to cheer them up. Being able to do this gives the game a lot of personality and really, you can find yourself getting attached to these little guys, starting to feel responsible each time you do something stupid. And this sort of connection isn't something that just any developer can pull off, which does reflect well on the team that managed to do this.

    I think it's important for me to bring out that I rarely ever found myself getting frustrated with the game. Those times when I encountered a tricky stage, I found it enjoyable to try to arrive at a workable solution. Another strong aspect to the game's overall design is that you need not feel pressured to get perfect on each stage just to move on. In fact, if you can just transport a single egg back to the nest at the end of the level, you have the option of concluding early if you feel like the other ones can't be salvaged. Plus, you have the ability to skip up to 3 levels over the course of the adventure, so you can always come back later if you're lacking confidence. 

All the levels feel quite different from one another, even amongst those within the same chapter or world. In addition to the standard levels of play, you'll also have Tutorial stages that first introduce something new before giving you an opportunity to try it out for yourself. And for every few stages or so that you complete, you'll unlock a special bonus stage. During these segments, you'll have a single egg to worry about, what's known as the "Robo-Egg", which has a crash test dummy-like appearance to it. Your objective here is to use what's provided so that you can guide the egg successfully through the entire stage so that it can grab all the pick-up's and make it to the goal. If you do manage to collect them all, you'll be awarded with a present for your efforts. I enjoyed these stages because they were fun, and they helped prevent the game from becoming extremely repetitive.

    There are over 80 levels in all, spread across multiple chapters in the storyline. each chapter presents players with a new theme (such as a swamp, or a desert), plus new gimmicks to consider. And therein lies yet another one of DodoGo's strengths. What I loved about this game is that even as you advanced to new levels later on in the game, you would still encounter Tutorial portions, get to try out new tools, and even spot some interesting puzzle arrangements. All of these new elements (and more) getting thrown at you was great for adding variety. As a result, DodoGo becomes thoroughly enjoyable without ever boring players or becoming dry.

    Beating the game definitely will require multiple sessions, but even after you've cleared each level, there's still the matter of completing it entirely. Depending on how well you did, you can obtain medals for your performance. The happiness and condition of each egg, as well as the amount of time you had left over are two factors that play a major role in this. Aiming for medals does carry a lot of motivation, and you can definitely find yourself playing this months after purchasing it. 

    Now, what's really cool is that each copy of the game comes equipped with a unique Internet code that you can enter online on the official DodoGo website. From here, you can track the number of medals you've earned, and how fast you've completed the levels in comparison to players from around the world. For the developers to even think up such an idea shows ingenuity as it's something no other developer has successfully done on this platform.

    The game is also quite something when you look at things from the perspective of presentation. The storyline is presented in the form of animated comic book-like cutscenes that are a really nice touch, even if they are pretty brief. Everything else in the game is top-notch, with an evidently strong focus on an inviting atmosphere. From the catchy musical score along with the fresh animated stylings and menu designs, the game easily comes out on top over much of what we've already seen to date on DSiWare.

    DodoGo! is a shining example to all developers working with this platform - past, present, and future. Everything about it is truly wonderful: charming characters, impressive presentation values, and fun gameplay mechanics that change and get you to think strategically. There really isn't anything persistently negative to say about it. The developers should feel very proud of what they've done: DodoGo! is a special gem that should not be this overlooked. 

28/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 9/10 - Excellent blend of puzzle and action, really good puzzle arrangements that feel varied, can interact with the eggs on a personal level
Presentation 9/10 - Charming characters, impressive visual focus, catchy music, great interface with nice menu designs, colourful and pleasant to look at
Enjoyment 5/5 - Little-to-no frustration to be had, gradual changes prevent it from becoming dry, instills joy within the player, different tools are fun to use
Extra Content 5/5 - Definitely worth the $8, lots of levels to plow through, motivating to aim for the best times and collect medals, Internet code feature

Equivalent to a score of 93% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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