Finally, the evil ne’er-do-gooders have successfully captured a princess, and got her back to their lair. There’s no Link or Mario in sight to ruin all of their evil plans – but in Dokuro, the unlikely hero is already waiting within their midst.
This is a game where you play as a small, nameless skeleton character, who turns his back on the dark forces to try and break the princess out to safety. Of course, all evil lairs that are worth their salt are filled with death traps and hazards to negotiate if you’re ever going to make your way out safely, and as the princess seems to have completely forgotten all basic common sense in terms of her need to stay alive in her captive stupor, it’s on our skeleton friend to do all her thinking for her.
Dokuro has you solving puzzles to guide the princess through levels, with the princess automatically walking from left to right whenever she is able to. The game is broken up into bite-sized chunks of one puzzle each set across multiple areas of the castle, each presenting a series of a ten puzzles which you must tackle in succession. You’ll need to make use of levers, dials and moving platforms in order to do this, while consuming a magic potion turns the skeleton man into a heroic human prince charming, who has the ability to carry the princess from danger in his arms, as well as the basic advantage of simply being taller and therefore able to stand up tall in deep water. That’s not to say our skeleton man is useless; he can use a bone for a club to take on enemies, and also possesses a handy double-jump for reaching out-of-sight areas.
Playing in handheld mode is the best option for Dokuro; the close-up platforming action harks back to what we saw a long, long time ago in Super Mario Land, and having the Switch in your hands does give a bit of nostalgia on that front. There’s nothing special about the graphics to benefit the big screen – it’s all pretty blurry, retro-style stuff, with very few splashes of colour to lighten things up. Some puzzles make use of the touch screen for drawing or spinning levers, and that doesn’t feel intuitive when using the control stick to do it.
It must be said, there’s probably too much repetition of ideas here for my liking. New elements pop up every few levels, from using chalk to create ropes, and red chalk to connect flames to cannons, for instance. Make no mistake, there are good puzzles on offer here, but it felt like there should be more included by way of variety. Still, we like good puzzlers here at Switch Player, and having Dokuro in your collection means you have one.
Dokuro is a good puzzler, but not a spectacular one. It has some good ideas, but we’d have liked to see more. It is fun, though, it must be said.