By Chris Picone, 30 November 2022
A lot of games out there successfully recreate nostalgic feelings and aspects of the retro gaming experience but I've never played a game that so completely nails the 80s arcade sensation like Donut Dodo.
Although Donut Dodo looks super bright and colourful, the developers have stringently stuck to a 16 colour scheme and a clean but very faithful reimagining of 80s-style arcade pixel art. Whole levels fit on a single screen and other than lacking a strong CRT effect the game genuinely looks like it's been pulled directly out of an actual old school arcade machine. The game screen even retains the old square ratio; in the margins, some character art and point charts. Now I'm from the 80s and I spent a lot of time on the original machines and for me these margins really invoked a sense of the artwork that used to adorn the sides and tops of arcade machine's timber frame. And the chiptunes! Hard to believe they're original - again, they really nail that 80s feeling and the way they ramp up and change with each level... Aesthetically, the whole thing's just perfect.
Likewise, the devs have also totally nailed the arcade gaming experience with extremely tight and responsive controls, challenging unforgiveable gameplay where at first the game just destroys you but then you kind of work out the trick to it. So you make some progress but one little slip and it's all over - but because you were *so close* you immediately dig back in for another go. And of course, win or lose, you're competing for the high score and bragging rights. And if you do beat it, you unlock even harder modes! If Donut Dodo had actually come out in the 80s, my friends and I would have jammed so many damn coins into it.
If you grew up with 80s arcade machines and want that feeling back, get this game. If you grew up a bit later in life and want to know why us old buggers keep crapping on about how amazing arcade games were, definitely give this one a play. It re-creates the experience better than any other modern "retro" game I've ever played.