Boys and girls, the ballad of...

Dojo Dan logo

Europress * 1/2 meg * £25.99 * Joystick * Out now

Dojo Dan - the Story so far (or How To Almost Make It In A Platform Game). Born in Wolferhampton, young Dojo Dan was a problemchild from the beginning.

Possessed by a disturbing desire to leap onto any raised surface and hit anything that came close to him, he became the first child to be expelled from nursery school for a combined acrobatics and grievous bodily harm offence.

With his parents at a loss, the authorities took him into care to decide what to do with him. A careers officer looked over his case file and immediately found the perfect occupation for wee Dojo. He would be the star of a platform game. Simple. He had all the qualifications. His name, for a start. Alliteration, you see. Plus! A talent for martial arts. Plus! Plus! His alarming "raised surface" antics. He was a natural. They packed his things and sent him of to Sofwareland.

But things weren't quite as rosy as they'd thought. Dojo arrived, alone and penniless, hoping to find himself a nice starring role in a big, popular platform game, and maybe a couple of sequels.

What he didn't plan on was the three thousand other hopeful computer characters all trying to do the same. Months went by, and no starring role for Dojo. He almost managed to get a non-speaking part for a fairly big budget production of Last Ninja 2, but the role was snatched by some ponce in black jim-jams.

Dojo started drinking. Whole days would pass by through motel windows in a haze of Jack Daniels. Dojo was on the skids. He watched his rivals scale the heady heights of Sofwareland.

That stupid little plumber found a place in the fledging console sector, and a cheeky young upstart calling himself RoboCod - a false name, I'll warrant - was gaining friends and awards left, right and centre. They were hard times.

Dojo slowly came to his senses, He enrolled in the Miner Willy Detox Clinic and came out a reformed sprite.

He also gained a slightly more realistic approach to his work. Rather than busting a gut for that elusive big, extravagant licensed platform game, he decided to settle for a slightly more modest debut.

And so, Dojo Dan -The Computer Game came into being. An unassuming little role that didn't make a very big impact due largely to its rather formulaic appearance and lack of overall style. However, rather than returning to the booze, Dojo took the comments in his stride.

It was said that the game was a rather uneven mix of beat-'em-up and platform. While this may have been a bonus, it didn't really add all that much to an otherwise by-the-numbers platform game.

There was also criticism for the way that all too often the game required Dojo to leap off-screen, without knowing it there was a platform beneath him, This contributed an unnecessary amount of blind luck to an already overly difficult game, said many critics.

There was also concern at the lack of a password system, and the odd idea of saving the game to disk at the end of each section. Mind you, it did receive praise for the rather nice graphics, with Dojo himself being described as "a bit of a cutey".

Many also enjoyed the vast number of levels, and the ability to decide which order you play the levels in each world.

The soundtrack also received praise, and would later appear as a cover version on Elton John's 70th album, entitled ."A Hair Raising Musical Extravaganza". Possibly.

Ultimately though, Dojo's debut performance gained only a minor audience. It was put in the shade by the simultaneous arrival of The Addams Family and Fire and Ice, and the promise of Zool in the future.
A shame, but then Softwareland is a harsh place, and the average often get left behind by the trailblazers. An all-too-common tale, and no mistake. Take heed, boys and girls, take heed.

Dojo Dan logo

Europress * £25.99

In order to vanquish the evil Valrog, Dojo Dan must first traverse his way through 20 massive levels full of platforms, puzzles and pick-ups.

This is a computer game which thinks it's a console cartridge: fast, very pretty, joystick-friendly and dead playable. The huge levels do really sprawl, taking some exploring just to find their boundaries, let alone the exits!

The problem with Dojo Dan is the constant and unrelenting attack you come under from all manner of creatures. Dan must be a very unpopular bloke, because every living thing in the vicinity has come out to hit him, throw things at him or just get in the flippin' way.

And it's the incessant barrage which eventually makes it grow tiresome. Great if you like your games packed to the very brim with hassle.

Don't do the Dojo, Dan!

Dojo Dan logo

Sorry, aber japanische Schriftzeichen auf der Packung machen aus einer 08/15-Prügelei noch keinen Karate-Knaller - genau wie große Glubschaugen allein halt nicht genügen, um einen Platform-Superhelden wie Mario Konkurrenz zu machen...

Kurz und mittelprächtig: Wir haben es hier mit einer Art Light-Mix aus "First Samurai" und "Super Mario Worlds" zu tun.

Nach einem kurzen Intro erwarten den Karateka fünf Level mit je vier einzeln anwahlbaren Platform-Landschaften voller Gegner und Extras. Da darf man sich nun durchprügeln, soweit es die etwas schwammige Stick-Steuerung mit ihren drei Fußritten und dem einen Faustschlag eben zulaßt.

Sich dücken und springen kann Dan auch, und die Auswahl an Extras ist ebenso vielfältig wie zahlreich (z.B. Zusatzleben, Karte Schützschilde, Geheimräume), trotzdem ist der Gesamteindruck wenig berauschend.

So trifft man häufig auf dieselben Feinde, die sich zum Teil auch durch sehr unsportliches Verhalten auszeichnen. Außerdem muß man ofters mal ins Ungewisse springen, aber vor allem halt sich die spielerische Abwechslung in engen Grenzen.

Nur in einem kleinen Teil des Kampfgebiets läßt die Gegner-Dichte etwas nach und macht einer Sparversion des berühmten Konsolen-Hüpfers Platz. Gesehen braucht man das alles nicht unbedingt zu haben, bis auf zweieinhalb witzige Animationen ist die Grafik kaum origineller als das Gameplay.

Die FX sind Geschmacksache, am ehesten kann eigentlich noch die fernöstliche Begleitmusik der Altmeister Allister Brimble und Matthew Simmons uberzeugen.

Alles in allem ein bißchen wenig um den Schwarzen Gurtel vom Speicher zu holen - dabei könnte man ihn für den relativ hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad gut gebrauchen. (mm)

Dojo Dan logo

Takiing a break from the likes of AMOS and Fun School packages, Europress Software get gamesy. But can they serve up anything new on the platform front?

What's that you say? You have an overwhelming Dark Force called Valrog at the bottom of your garden, so to speak? And you need help? Fast? Dojo Dan's your man.

So you need a platform romp with beat-'em-up overtones, and frustration, inanity and a tired and detested Oriental flavour thrown in for good measure? Then Dojo Dan IS... your man.

Dojo Dan sort of reminds me of The First Samurai, though I'm sure that's not at all intentional. Dojo Dan's not as much fun as The First Samurai and I should point out here and now that I didn't actually like The First Samurai that much anyway - I reckon our Stuart made a meal out of a snack.

My reasons for this lack of enthusiasm for Dojo Dan are many and varied, but it basically boils down to it being an uninspired mess. You want specifics? You got 'em (note: it might help to read the captions first)...

Unoriginal but potentially palatable

For a start, the restart points (activated by touching special icons) are rarely positioned in sensible places. It wouldn't be so bad if the levels were well-designed, but they aren't. It's a case of 'Oh God, do I really have to go through all that again' instead of the infinitely more preferably 'Uh-oh, I have to go through all that again'.

Take one of the first levels: Oakley. The route through the every-which-way scrolling cavern is basically upward. Fine, but at one point there are dozens of tiny platforms to negotiate, and falling and dying can prove a tad too easy. (And then, of course, you have to climber back up to the place of your demise only to die all over again). To make matters worse, darts are shot across the screen while your concentration is right at its peak. Nnnnng.

Yes, it would be dull if it was all too easy, but more often than not Dojo Dan is not so much tough as frustrating beyond belief. When you first play, you need to feel some sense of achievement, but there's very little in Dojo Dan to make you feel good about succeeding, and it doesn't take long before you feel like throwing in the towel. I didn't, and I then found, much to my consternation, that more sections are actually quite short and remarkably easy to complete. Huh?

Often frustrating beyond belief

I wouldn't mind slogging through the tougher levels so much if the basic control mode was any fun, but it's not. It's... well, 'wrong', basically. Dan's movement is sluggish and not particularly fluid (the animation is fine though). He slips and slides a little too much for my liking, and the fighting aspect isn't particularly rewarding. It doesn't help that the behaviour of the adversaries is uninteresting and (surprise) frustrating, especially the flying ones which serve only to interrupt the flow of play. Aaaeeeiii.

Dan's a heavy chap. Every time he lands, an inappropriate, irritating and dense thudding sound is heard. Well, it is if you remember to change from music to spot effects during play. I hate that, but not as much as I despise the tedious whining Oriental effect music.

Dojo Dan doesn't even look that nice. It's unimaginative all round, with its drab colour schemes (the graduated colour skyline is inadequate compensation) and abundance of needless detail.

Those are most of Dojo Dan's bad points. Surely it must have some good ones? No, not really. Not GOOD ones. It does have plenty of average ones though (actually, there is a nice wibbly wobbly effect behind the high-score table). That said, I would recommend Dojo Dan if it was half the price, because for all its faults (and, yes, there are many) it is capable of being playable (but not often enough). It has many unoriginal but potentially palatable features but they just aren't mixed together very well.

The fact of the matter is, anyone can pop down to the supermarket and buy the necessary ingredients to make a top-notch Chinese scoff, but it takes a chef with at least a modicum of talent and imagination to serve up something worth digesting.