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DotMan - DSiWare Review

Game Info

DSiWare | Silver Star Japan / Agetec | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 200 Nintendo Points
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11th September 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

Silver Star Japan has started to gain some momentum DSiWare lately, with the likes of Rabi Lady and Magical Whip getting NA localizations with the help of Agetec. But whatever you think you'll get out of their new arcade title, I'd advise you to put the brakes on for a moment. DotMan may look like it has the necessary components for a quality game. But to be completely honest, if you've played as many DSiWare games as I have, there's little to see here.

    DotMan features very simple gameplay in a way that resembles Pac-Man's grab-and-go style. You control a red car in a closed area, travelling along lanes to collect all the coins in each level. All the while, a meddlesome police car will give chase and try to stop you from succeeding. The first two times you get caught, you'll just receive a warning, but if they catch you again after that, your game will end. Thankfully, this system resets after you visit a different level, which is more forgiving than having a life counter.

    Controls-wise, you hold the B Button to accelerate while the D-Pad is used to change lanes whenever there's an opening. Even without the B Button held down, the car will always be on the move, just at a low-gear speed. For more advanced play, you can perform a U-turn by pressing L or R just after you reach an opening in the lane. It takes some practice, but it's a very handy feature that can quickly remove you from tight situations. 

    Maximum acceleration can be achieved by picking up one of the oil can items on the track. For a short while, this will make your car travel at an unstoppable speed, creating more risk of running into the rear of a police car. Other items include an emblem that awards bonus points, as well as a simple spike trap that you can place using the A Button, causing any car that touches it to spin out.

With each level you visit, the level layouts will experience minor changes, with a few more items and more openings getting added. In some levels, you'll even have two police cars to put up with to make things more interesting. But each time you get a Game Over and turn on the engine one more time, you slowly start to realize something about the game. Quite simply, the substance isn't all there.

    To me, DotMan is a little too simple for my liking, especially since the addictiveness seen in games like it just isn't there. You do have the staple of high-score rankings, but the motivation to continue playing again and again wears thin a lot quicker than you might think. Perhaps it's because the element of tension the developers tried to implement isn't fully realized to the same degree as the element of strategy. But whatever the reason, I do feel that DotMan is more underwhelming than anything else. 

    The presentation is pretty typical stuff, featuring basic visuals with simple layouts and sprites, as well as a generic light-rush music track. The menu looks fine I guess, but more important (see: strange) is the fact that there's no way to pause the game. Other than the standard affair, there's also a female model whose very appearance resulted in the game's E10+ rating -- which, by the way, is forced and unnecessary. What this character's presence doesn't account for is the lack of charm in this game. DotMan may not be bland or boring to look at, but it's not something to make you smile either. So with these two concerns, you have a package that's not as appealing as it could have been.

    Even for a price tag of $2, I would honestly hesitate to spend the points on this. I have experienced much stronger games on the DSiWare service for the same price, to the point that DotMan really pales in comparison. Now, I know some may be really into arcade games and they may very well be drawn in by the game's clear inspiration, but I can't see why anyone would be content with settling for something mediocre when there's so much more out there on the service. But I digress.

    If you were hoping DotMan would carry even a fraction of what made Pac-Man take off, you'll be setting yourself up for disappointment. While the strategy component makes gameplay less linear, the game just isn't that fun to play. There's nothing addictive about what's presented here to make you come back for repeated plays or even get you in a good mood while you're actually playing. It's not so much that the game is flawed, but in my opinion, it's a waste of time. You could easily do without this game.

13/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 6/10 - Not much substance to it, switch lanes to avoid getting cornered, ability to perform U-turns is probably the best part about the game
Presentation 5/10 - Very basic look, standard music track, can't pause the game, female model is a forced inclusion, lacking in charm
Enjoyment 1/5 - Element of strategy in changing speeds and foreseeing which lane to switch to, neither exciting nor addictive
Extra Content 1/5 - No extras, high-scores don't provide motivation, will quickly move on to bigger and better things, better $2 games out there

Equivalent to a score of 43% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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