Dogurai is a retro-styled platformer with animal-like characters, graphics and soundtrack designed with old portable games in mind – down to the limited color ranges and sprite sizes!
There isn’t much of a story for Dogurai – the dog samurai. As soon as the game begins, you can select the difficulty, which is either Normal for infinite lives, or Hard, which gives you six lives but unlimited continues. You will then be dropped into the first level and must press on. Being a Game Boy style game, that is, one that takes heavy inspiration from games that released in the late 1980s, this feels like a throwback to when I was able to rent games at my local Blockbuster every Friday evening.
The gameplay of Dogurai is quite simple and to the point. You move with the left analog stick or the D-Pad and can attack enemies with the Square button. Your character can also slide with the Circle button, and jump or double jump using the X button. Enemies can also be damaged with the attack button if you are close enough, and if an enemy fires a bullet at you, you can act like a true samurai and slice the bullet in two with your sword!
Since you control a samurai, you also have a special skill that can deal a lot of damage on stronger enemies or bosses. When it is activated, you have a few moments to press on the D-Pad direction shown on screen, which can deal a lot of damage if done perfectly. When you land in the boss room, the boss’ health is shown on the upper part of the screen, pretty much as you’d expect in an old-school Mega Man game. Even at Normal difficulty, I thought that the bosses offered quite the challenge, requiring a few tries to be able to take them down.
The levels aren’t too big, and they pay homage to what you’d see in a Game Boy game from back in the day, and they can each one be completed in 15-30 minutes depending on your skill. The level design itself is simple, and you most likely won’t get lost as you progress through each one since they are rather linear. Some levels have special events that change things up, like riding a motorcycle, and that became a split-second reflex session.
Dogurai’s visual presentation is in 4-bits, akin to the visual capabilities of the original Game Boy. The soundtrack is low-fi chiptunes, once again reminiscent of the music the original Game Boy was able to output. A few visual options are offered, either framed like the Super Game Boy hardware offered or in full-screen. There’s also a dynamic theme that changes the color palette of each level, or you can set one of the few different pre-selected color schemes on offer.
The trophies are awarded for progressing through the different levels of the campaign, and for completing a variety fo additional objectives, such as completing the water level without touching any of the electrified water pools, finishing a level without taking damage, or bouncing on heavy enemies 147 times. This isn’t an easy Platinum to achieve, given that one of the trophies asks that you finish the game without dying once!
Dogurai is a good game to play if you’re craving a retro-style platformer that could have released on the Game Boy decades ago. It delivers on what it promises, with tight platforming sequences and tough bosses to beat, all for only $4.99. Given the core nature of this game, it’s not the type of release that gamers of all skill levels will be able to enjoy.
PSN Price: $4.99
PSN Game size: 140MB
This Dogurai review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by QUByte Interactive.