On a dreary and rainy night, I was trying to cheat the boredom not by shooting myself in a seedy hostess bar in Chicago, but on the PlayStation Store, deep in an endless list of 2,784 games. independent promotion, as little known as they are uninviting. It is there, in the midst of the hordes of waifus, and countless Fishing Simulator add-ons, which I found Dogurai – an obscure title with an assumed Game Boy look, all in shades of green. I don’t know if it’s its quirky look or the fact that it is offered for less than € 1 that convinced me to take the plunge, but after all, even if it means testing games, why not go scratch a little deep in the promotional drawer to see what’s there?
Great good took me! Dogurai is certainly not a title that revolutionizes video games, but for less than € 5 in normal times, it offers both nostalgic for 1990 and others to (re) discover the game on Game Boy in a particularly experience. well calibrated, without the arduousness associated with the titles of the time. And since the screenshots really don’t do it justice, I even transposed this test into a video.
You’re Pluto Bones Snoopy
Dogurai features Bones, a dog-Samurai ex-member of the special forces, whom Charlie Brown would not have denied, and who fights against … in fact, we do not really know and it is really not important. The initial scenario is based on a Seal of Quality of Nintendo and if details are well brought up during the game, we are not there anyway to tell stories, but to get into the heart of the action in three clicks of the buttons.
After a jump from the top of a large tower, we take control of our elite dog with its commands inspired by the very first Megaman: a jump button, an attack button and a slide while doing down + jump. Ok, in fact it’s still more refined than Megaman, already because we have an additional button to slide, then because we have a double-jump from the start of the game, which we can also decide opponents’ projectiles and ultimately because you can do a little three-hit katana combo – and even unleash a stylish mini-QTE of sabrage on some enemies.
The first level setup is as efficient as it is classic: after crossing a city in ruins, you dive into the sewers. We can see it as a lack of originality, but also as a tribute to those tons of Game Boy games that made us all go down the drain. Crossed in a handful of minutes, this first zone will not pose a challenge to anyone but allows us to clearly define the controls of the game. It is at the first boss that things get slightly tough, with the entry of a robot. mecha-raccoon which once again evokes Megaman. It will be necessary to analyze the patterns of the enemy to succeed in putting him in difficulty, which gives the opportunity to notice that the game offers infinite lives without any gameplay interruption, which is much more appreciable than the period games. with lives and continues to use sparingly.
We set the course like …
Once you have passed this first level, a map will offer you four regions to explore. I repeat again that it is inspired by the little blue robot of Capcom ? Well, it is promised, I stop, especially as these levels find precisely the right formula to take their independence vis-à-vis the model. Having to face enemies in melee rather than blasting them from a distance forces us to be on the move all the time using double jump and slide to good effect. The basic opponents are well thought out and some even have an original behavior sometimes requiring mini strategies. For the less seasoned, it will be necessary to know how to retrace your steps to take cover, while the pad pros will have all the latitude to find the perfect rhythm to twirl without striking a blow through the obstacles. The movements are very pleasant, the character is rather agile and the controls precise – to the point where we wonder if our dog-samurai is not also a bit of a cat-ninja.
The levels are built around a simple alternation: action-platform passages in which we can find some secrets here and there, and a difficulty wall often with a specific mechanic to the area. For example, in the cryonics plant, we must use the frozen ground to gain momentum from the sick, while managing millimeter jumps between the chasms and the icy breaths that send us to the bottom of the ravine. These classic mechanics and concepts, even a tad ice-breaker, are very well exploited here. This endless “world of ice”, just as slippery as it is painful to navigate because of the cautious movements it imposes, is here transfigured, because the classic mechanics have been skilfully turned around to offer instead speed and therefore rhythmic gameplay and fun. Well done Dogurai!
Without being too brutal with the player, each zone therefore has its small barrier which requires good play. The title punishes us if we try to go nag, but the infinite lives and the reappearance at the beginning of the passage in question allow us to switch to mode die & retry and progress with each new attempt, providing a great sense of progress. Once the level is mastered, we realize again that we can cross it again in a handful of minutes, which is both exhilarating, but also useful if we seek to collect the floppy disks that allow us to unlock the real end .
As with the levels, the bosses are well mastered and pose a certain challenge. We will have to understand their patterns to dodge attacks that can knock us down in a few seconds, try to find the flaw to exploit in their movement, watch for moments or trigger our QTE combo, and go the distance by scavenging points. of life little by little. Again, the title is uncompromising, but having endless lives and starting again just before the boss gives both a taste of classic difficulty while avoiding the frustration inherent in titles of yesteryear. In addition, by dint of facing the bosses, you will find more and more flaws in their seemingly impenetrable defense, and it will be a real pleasure to fall in 30 seconds from enemies who have made you struggling for several minutes. The Megaman experts will have noticed that I am not talking about the weapons that are collected from the bosses and for good reason: there are none. impossible to cheeser the bosses suddenly, and that’s good, because this gameplay is after all more calibrated and better controlled than the first titles of Capcom.
A title that has dog
The aesthetic qualities of Dogurai will not leave anyone indifferent. If he tries to play with the period limitations – for example, you can use only two buttons like on Game Boy – and if he does well to offer readable graphics in four shades of green like on the first laptop of Nintendo, rendering on a 4K screen will still lead us to take a step back – literally more than figuratively. More than the line of graphics, it is the animation, simple but successful, which gives life to an ensemble that is after all poorly served by frozen screenshots.
The environments are classic, but varied, and the game is full of lots of fun little references, which will entertain without getting drunk. To bring a little variety, there are 8 predefined color palettes which color each world if desired, thus giving a Game Boy Color rendering. For my part, I didn’t like those themes which made the screen too bright for my liking, but I appreciated being able to choose whether or not to color a world as I wanted.
As with the graphics, the music is also vintage. The themes are effective and the authentic Game Boy rendering is again very nice, although we can deplore a certain redundancy in some slightly short loops, which can be slightly wearing when we redo a passage to the chain. Fortunately, the music does not start from the beginning with each death. One thing is for sure, these melodies will register in you like those of the games of 1990 whereas you will listen to them for much less time, the game ending rather quickly in one or two evenings.
Dogurai has everything of the title that we do not notice, from which we do not expect anything and which nevertheless turns out to be an excellent surprise. For less than 5 €, it offers an experience that smells of the 90s without the dated aftertaste that is embedded in the titles of yesteryear. The two developers of the title have managed their resources well, relying on the authenticity of a simple and successful Game Boy look, to focus on the gameplay. To the traditional orientation of the latter is added what it takes modernity to leave the galleys of the past behind and enjoy rather nice levels.
If you want to give yourself a quick nostalgic shot or if you want to discover what the game was like on Game Boy, all in good conditions, Dogurai deserves your attention. It’s neither a nugget nor a revolution, but the experience is light and well enough done to be pleasant from start to finish.
Test carried out on PlayStation 4 by Ulanbator from a commercial version.