Developed By: Moving Pieces Interactive Published By: Screenwave Media Categories: Arcade, Puzzle Release Date: 07.31.20
Do you remember QBert? Dodo Peak is somewhat of a modern effort in a QBert like game, only with a much cuter, less foul mouthed protagonist. Starting life as an Apple Arcade game, recently coming to the Nintendo Switch, how well does the game hold up as a proper console game, or even a game period?
Tile by tile, as the titular Dodo, moving around the threat of other animals, traps, even oncoming boulders and volcanic activity, all to rescue your eggs. The game is as basic as it sounds, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially considering it’s mobile origins. Level to level is the same goal in mind, get your eggs, soon to be baby dodos back home. Occasional stages have Fruit powerups which can make you big and indestructible or much faster. It sounds relatively easy, but progressively does become more challenging for a variety of reasons. Your trail of eggs/baby dodos trail you and eventually get longer and longer, making you have to keep mind of what’s behind you, what traps could potentially get you or your baby dodos. If one of them gets hit, it’s not just a case of them going back to where you grabbed the egg, the stage ends in a failure immediately, which can and will lead to frustration when the last of a long trail is the one to get hit. The game also has a Star Ranking for each level, you get one just for beating it, while stars two and three are more often for their own set of challenges. Grab a Ruby, beat the stage quickly, take out every enemy, or get every coin in a level. Getting the first start is usually never too big of an issue, but getting Three Stars requires one to do all three challenges together, which can and will be a pain in the neck. Defeating every enemy for instance, you need a specific powerup, which only lasts for a few seconds, enemy placement is random, and while they do move on paterns, the fact you can waste a powerup on bad enemy placement is not good design.
Worst of all comes the game’s biggest flaw and in my opinion, ruins what would be an otherwise enjoyable arcade like game; input lag. No matter what you do, there always seems to be a bit of delay to your actions, which unlike most games, I could never find myself getting used to. The game seems to have two sorts of delay, one in regards to how the Dodo moves from block to block and one dealing with your actual inputs. Regarding the first issue, you’ll notice while playing you’ll press an action to move to a new block, but while you move, you take a bit of time to actually move to the next block, this ends up making movement not very satisfying and sluggish. The second issue is the more egregious one. Unfortunately too often, your inputs will not register leaving you not moving, you even move you in an entirely different direction. I’ve had far too many instances of having a powerup required to defeat an enemy, wanting to move in the direction towards them, only to go the *exact* opposite, holding the stick left, going hard right. I could imagine if this happened once, it’d be no real issue, but it happened constantly, and would lead me into enemies, traps, or away from goals. The game can be completely controlled by the touch screen, showing it’s mobile roots, but I have to wonder if this is the cause of the control issues.
If these issues aren’t that much of a problem for you, then you’ll be greeted by a decent amount of content to play through, over fifty stages, and a nice number of unlockable skins for the Dodos. From recolors, to cut little outfits, to different birds entirely, you unlock these skins for beating a certain stage, buying them with coins, or the ones that will take the longest, beating weekly challenges, those of which being harder stages which change each week. These skins are all worth your while as they all raise your speed exponentially from the default Dodo. Despite being much faster though, the delay still persists.
The graphics are pleasant to look at, and the Dodos do look cute, but the game does have that doughy, cheaper look that a lot of mobile games have. I’m not the biggest fan of games that use tiles to create levels for the most part, but it works well enough for the game the simple artstyle. Music is largely forgettable outside of the themes for the Dodos when you select each skin. All of which having their own unique rendition.
I really want to like Dodo Peak. At it’s core, at the basic gameplay level, it’s a fun QBert clone and has plenty to enjoy content wise, but I cannot get over how bad it actually feels to play sometimes with control delay. A game like this needs to be incredibly responsive, and Dodo Peak just is not.
Buy Now: $9.99
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes