Donut Dodo (Switch) Review

Despite the wholesome appearance, Donut Dodo is a tough-as-nails new retro-style arcade experience that mixes gameplay elements of classic Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Burgertime, Popeye, and even DK Junior into something unique, fun, and snappy.

The goal is to collect all the delicious looking donuts in each stage which unlocks the path to grab the final, huge donut. This is much easier said than done as enemies will hunt down Baker Billy just like ghosts to Pac-Man. Outfitted with only the ability to climb ladders and jump, players need to be thoughtful as they navigate their route in each single-screened stage.

Like classic Donkey Kong, each stage contains a new layout, introduces a slightly new environmental element, and grows in difficulty. With no continues, each game over can be heart breaking but the skill of the player grows with each attempt. Like many classic arcade games, the goal is to ultimately get a higher score on the leaderboard so snagging each bonus item and reaching each new stage makes a huge difference. There are a few difficulty settings, but they must be unlocked by completing the previous, lesser difficulty. Clearing the default easy mode could easily take hours depending on the player’s skill and tenacity.

Even though this game will make you fill your swear jar in no time, each death is tolerable because the player is firmly in control the entire time. This is mostly due to the low but highly controllable jumping ability. Instead of jumping at one height and one distance like Mario in the original Donkey Kong, the player instead has steady and responsive control of Billy’s movement.  It feels right and the speed of play is spot-on. Some stages have dead-ends, which can feel a little unfair as the toilet monster ruthlessly hunts you down with no way to counter-attack, but that is where the die-and-try-again gameplay comes into play. Learning from your mistakes to “git gud” is part of the entertainment value. 

Visually, the game looks like it came directly from the mid-80s. The glowing neon colors, dark background, and optional cabinet borders looks great and creates a firm sense of nostalgia.  The same goes for the carnival-ish soundtrack and fits the mood and presentation of the entire experience. If this game was placed in an official cabinet within a retro arcade, you wouldn’t know this was a 2022 release right down to the 3-character initials leaderboard.

Donut Dodo is a wonderful retro throwback and firmly nails the classic arcade gameplay right on the head. From the presentation, gameplay, and difficulty, this is a new, old game that any arcade fan needs to play. It also won’t steal an endless supply of quarters. The low $5 asking price is the perfect price point for this awesomely fun retro throwback. 

SCORE: 9/10

Also Try: finding a local retro arcade

Better Than: stuffing endless quarters into a machine

Wait For It: a translated official release of Retro Game Challenge 2 (DS)

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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