Domo-Kun, the internationally popular mascot for Japanese TV network NHK, makes his leap to iOS gaming with Domo the Journey. How well does the loveable monster translate to tablet and phone gaming? Don’t touch that dial, the story is below.
Domo-Kun and his friend Tashanna are out on a sunny day relaxing under a tree watching the clouds float by. Suddenly, Hungry Bear grabs Tashanna and runs off. Domo gives chase to rescue Tashanna. It is your typical rescue the damsel in distress story.
Controls and Gameplay
Domo the Journey revisits old school 2D side-scrolling platform gameplay. Running, jumping, and avoiding dangers are the order of the day. Domo adventures across 25 levels broken up over 5 worlds to rescue Tashanna. Each level is not very long, giving the player quick bite-sized chunks if they are on the go with a short amount of time. The level layouts are fun and give a moderate challenge.
The controls for Domo the Journey are the virtual D-pad and button style that many games like this use. That is also the greatest problem with the game. Because there is no tactile feel of the edges of the D-pad or buttons on a touchscreen, you never know when your thumbs have moved off center or off completely. This problem rears its ugly head when you try to jump between platforms or avoid dangers. Enemies are spread out enough that if you can spot them, try to avoid them, or make sure your thumbs are in the right spots.
You do have two weapons to deal with enemies; your guitar and camera, but you have a limited number of uses for each so use them sparingly. You can find coins in the game that you can save up to buy extra uses. Through micro-transactions you can also up the number of uses you have for each, but whichever way you do it, once used they are gone.
Graphics and Sound
Domo the Journey uses a fun and colorful paper cut-out look that looks great on the iPhone. The graphics still look good on the iPad as well, although they start taking on pixilation because it was created for the iPhone.
In the sound department things aren't terrible. The sound effects and minimal voice acting are fine, but the music does get tiresome after awhile since it is the same riff repeated over and over.
Domo-Kun has been slowly gaining a following outside of Japan for years, so it's no surprise that he would eventually be made into a mobile game. Kids love him, he's cute and cuddly. So it's a little sad that Domo the Journey doesn't play better.
Virtual controls are such a hit or miss affair on smartphones and tablets, that I am genuinely surprised when I get a game that has them. Very few of the games I encountered use them effectively, and unfortunately Domo the Journey isn't one of them. You have to constantly monitor your thumb and hand placement and even then, there are no guarantees.
Outside of the controls, Domo the Journey is a fairly likeable game. Domo-Kun fans will like what they see. If it were a regular console game with real controls it would be a great, but the virtual controls let it down. It's playable, but only just. I give Domo the Journey a 3 out of 5.
Domo the Journey is rated 4+ for players aged 4 years and older by the iTunes App Store.
For more information see the official Domo the Journey web site.