Dongo Adventure is a one-dollar 2D Platformer you can find in the Switch shop. The game follows a rat, presumably Dongo, on his adventure through various locations. You collect cheese that you attack enemies with and move through sewers, lakes, and more until you finish all the levels and the game is done.
When you first start up the game, you’re met with a selection menu that looks like it was put together with random clipart. From there, you can select the first level and start playing.
Game design-wise, it isn’t terrible. It isn’t great, either. Everything looks like a random asset, and nothing matches. When you throw cheese, it looks like lasers. Your enemies are mostly hyper-realistic bugs that are the same size as you, and the environment is overly saturated, or just poorly lit.
Some elements are pretty intuitive and obviously interactable. While other elements are a bit more confusing. In the first level, for example, there is a dripping green liquid that appears to just be in the background, but it actually causes you harm. Meanwhile, some leaves in level four are used as platforms you’ll need to use to progress in the game, however, they are barely discernible and look just the same as some other plants that aren’t interactable at all.
Aside from that, the gameplay is tricky in general. Though playable, and not too hard to finish within an hour, there are a lot of frustrating elements. A coin system that isn’t explained, hitboxes that are unforgivingly finicky, and you get stuck constantly trying to jump on platforms.
Dongo Adventure lacks a tutorial level, which isn’t a big deal with games that have how-to-play pages or stories that provide some clues on how to play. However, the How-to-Play page only shows you the controls and it doesn’t explain the actual mechanics of the game. More so, there isn’t a natural way to find out what you’re doing or where to go with the story. Overall, you just have to guess a lot in this game. What are the enemies? Why are we going from the sewer to a house? Which direction are you supposed to go at a given time? Who is Dongo? We never really find any of that out.
The lack of a story is especially awkward when you get to the last level. After going through all the different locations, you reach the bottom of the house where you have a boss fight, of sorts, and kill a random cat. The game ends with a cut scene of the cat being mercilessly electrocuted before jarringly cutting to the credits. It might not have been bad if this cat were evil, or had killed Dongo’s brother. But we have no idea about this cat that is apparently just living in the house we have broken into. Just that the rat, who we assume is Dongo due to the lack of story, throws cheese at the cat until it is electrocuted.
Despite all the drawbacks, the game can be entertaining and challenging at times. Overall, it had a sense of nostalgia and it reminded me of the obscure game titles I would find in discount bins as a kid. I enjoyed throwing cheese at bugs, and I see a lot of value in a game that was worked on by a small studio.
If I am going to buy a game for a dollar, I want it to be a game like this, and not a mass-produced game that doubles as an ad for a franchise.