Dojoran Review

I have an appreciation for modern video games that feature 1-bit pixel art. I think it might have to do with how I respect the fact that the developers and artists are able to make something that can be visually appealing while working with less, almost as a constraint. Gato Robato and Minute are two that instantly spring to mind when I think of the 1-bit art style, and not only do these games look really cool, but they have fun and engaging gameplay. So when I noticed that the Tavern had received a code for a brand new 1-bit game I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. Dojoran is that game. It was developed by Nautlander and published by Ratalaika Games, and it’s a classic precision platformer, with the iconic black and white pixelated art style that I admire. I wasn’t expecting it to compare to the other games I mentioned but I hoped it would be a fun 1-bit diversion.

You play as a young frog in Dojoran who is well aware that the world is a cruel and harsh place. This can be said about the real world too, but in the Dojoran universe that description is even more apt. The game is split into 28 levels. Each level is on the smaller side, and will only take a minute or so to beat – if you are a platforming god. All the typical obstacles are here: spikes, poisonous liquid, moving platforms, dart traps, even a runaway boulder or two. As you progress through the game, the levels get harder and harder, with more difficult obstacles and greater platforming challenges. By the time I reached the tenth level or so I was ready to call it quits. This game is hard.

There are a couple of mechanics in the game that will assist you in your many futile attempts to beat each level. Each level has multiple checkpoints, which is very appreciated – nothing is worse than having to start at the beginning of a level when you fail. The frog normally just has a basic jump, but he can pick up a one-use apple item, which allows him to do a rather unique double jump. With an apple in your possession, you can press X which causes the apple to drop directly below you, you can then bounce on the apple. It’s not the easiest move to pull off, but you get used to it after a few tries, and it is necessary to complete most of the levels – sometimes you might even have to backtrack to pick up a new one. There is also a fly pickup that essentially acts as a shield. Normally the frog dies when taking one hit, but the fly gives you an extra chance and a second or two of invincibility. 

Each level also has coins scattered about, but they don’t really have any function that I can discern besides unlocking a few achievements. There is also a talisman item in each level. These are also related to an achievement, you’ll have to find five in five separate levels to earn all the talisman-related achievements. Since this is a Ratalaika game most players will be playing it for a quick 1000 gamerscore. This can be accomplished in about 20 minutes, by beating the first five or six levels, killing a few enemies (classic bounce on the head does the trick), collecting coins, finding five talismans, and dying a total of 25 times. Dying 25 times is not a problem in this game and will come naturally to most players.

Conclusion

Anyone out there looking for a precision platforming challenge should consider picking up Dojoran. Achievements hunters will have a slightly harder time than usual here. It’s a quick 1000G, but it will test your platformer reflexes. The 1-bit minimalist art style suits this game well; it doesn’t compare to the best of the bunch, but it’s a fun diversion and challenge.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Stylish 1-bit minimalistic art style
  • Great chiptune soundtrack
  • Easy achievement list
Bad
  • 1 hit and you're dead
  • Very hard
  • Extremely hard
  • Brutally hard
6.4
Okay
Gameplay - 5.5
Graphics - 7.5
Audio - 7.7
Longevity - 5
Written by
I started my gaming odyssey playing 8-bit console and arcade games. My first Xbox was the 360 and I immediately fell in love with achievement hunting and the overall ecosystem. That love was cemented with my purchase of an Xbox One. I play a bit of everything, but I usually end up playing fast paced games that remind me of my days spent in dark, smoky arcades spending quarter after quarter, telling myself "one more try!". Gamertag: Morbid237.

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