Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
An increasing number of games fetishize difficulty these days. From Dark Souls to Super Meat Boy, it’s like we want a return to the brutal arcade past before console accessibility became the norm. But while Dodo Master is hard, more importantly, it’s fair. And aside from its repetitive visuals it’s pretty great, too.
With the dodos nearly wiped out, players take control of what might be the last member of this proud bird race (and a loving mother) as she escapes from her cage and ventures into dangerous dungeons to reclaim her precious eggs. After a brief tutorial where players learn the basics of double-jumping and butt stomping, they are then let loose into the catacombs.
Dodo Master uses an almost Mario 64-style map system where players can hop into whichever stage they choose from a central hub, called The Room of Doors. But while this adds a cool nonlinearity to the game, it also makes it a bit difficult to track progress. This is partially due to the look of the levels themselves. The game features a lovely, detailed, and vaguely fantasy 3D art style full of dimly lit corridors and crawling vermin enemies. However, aside from a few later castle-themed areas the dirty dungeon look dominates most of the numerous stages, making them all blur together. It’s also strange how players can’t easily quit out of a level once it starts.
But redundant graphics aside, Dodo Master is a fantastic platformer. The environments have lots of vertical and horizontal space, encouraging players to explore instead of simply pushing forward. Exploration is crucial too, because players must collect a certain amount of eggs to complete the level and earn cool bonuses like a Viking hat for their dodo. Health is limited, and traps are as abundant as they are lethal, but everything is clearly marked. If players take an axe to the face or fall off a crumbling platform, it’s their own fault. But most importantly, Dodo Master features some of the smoothest, most precise platforming controls virtual buttons are capable of. Masterfully moving the dodo feels like an artful extension of one’s fingertips.
Dodo Master doesn’t transcend its classic side-scrolling roots, but it does a great job at honoring them while not being hindered by its platform. Check it out, and try not to go extinct.