App of the day: Domo: The Journey review (iPhone)
We've seen some interesting computer game characters in our time, but Domo is definitely up there among the strangest. Think of a giant, toothy Weetabix-like sprite with legs and arms and that's your lead character right there. He's on the chase to track down his bear buddy who's been kidnapped. Welcome to the world of Domo: The Journey - a side-scrolling platform game that's a clear nod to the classics of the genre.
Domo: The Journey
There's a feel of the late 90s about Domo, albeit minus the shell suits. The era of the Sega Megadrive, which came with an abundance of side-scrolling platformers - including Mickey Mouse's Castle of Illusion, Taz Mania and, of course, classics such as Sonic The Hedgehog - is certainly where this title pulls its thrills from.
The story tells of the kidnap of Domo's buddy - a Superted-esque bear, another generational classic of the 90s era - by a grizzly bear. It's your duty to guide Domo through a variety of worlds and levels using the on-device touch controls. There's a virtual d-pad for movement and a tap button to jump, but you'll need to master the combination of running and jumping - a longer hold means a higher jump, while a double tap jump is necessary for those extra long distances - in order to avoid pitfalls, all-smiling enemy nasties and various hazardous objects.
At first it all feels a bit primitive, truth be told, and in many ways it remains that way - but this is part of Domo's charm. At the core of it all there's a decent platform game that's challenging: largely because it's a two strikes and you're dead situation. You'll need to collect bowls of food to recharge the batteries once struck, although fall into a pit or out of the sky and that's the end of that.
There are satellite dish save points that recover your position in a level, should you die, which certainly come into use, but the main trick is learning how enemies move - again, they're primitive in terms of motion or intelligence - and ensuring you jump over them at the right moment. As you progress through the game there are fast-moving penguins, floating ghosts and spitting snowmen that add to the challenge. If you're lucky enough to acquire a guitar then some chord shredding will kill your foe - who'd have thought it, eh, a guitar-playing breakfast biscuit? Madness.
Different worlds play on the classics: forests, sawmills, caves and icy hills tick the majority of levels that we would anticipate seeing in such a game. It's almost cliched, but Domo soldiers on with its own charm and ethic that gets more fun - and more difficult - to play as it progresses. There's a reason for that though: mid-way through there's a classic mine-cart section that - much like the tricky Taz game cited earlier - is the highlight of play. Bring on the loop da loops.
If you want to make the game a little easier then there is a shop to buy a variety of power-ups, including a permanent additional hit - up to nine can be purchased in total - for 100 in-game coins. In true "freemium" style said coins can also be purchased with real money from the game's shop should you wish, but we preferred keeping the difficulty high and playing out with the two-life limit.
Run, jump, die a lot and have plenty of fun on the way. We played Domo front to back on a medium-haul flight and felt it was well worth the 69p download price - it killed the time and we'd landed before we knew it.