First Impressions: DOT MAN

Classic Atari rip-off does the business

Silver Star Japan has decided to do with DOT MAN what Atari don't: put one of their 8-bit console classics on the DS. In this case it's the classic 2600 game Dodge 'Em. For the uninitiated, Dodge 'Em had a pretty basic concept: two cars racing in opposite directions around a box-shaped track consisting of nested lanes with one trying to collect all the dots whilst the other's goal is to smash into the dot collector. DOT MAN expands upon this by not only tarting up the graphics, but picking up the pace, adding a new move, a few power-ups and a catchy soundtrack - retro-gaming heaven indeed.

After a title screen featuring a blond lassie in a red miniskirt (apparently the driver of the car you're controlling), you're presented with a plethora of options: play the game, read the manual or go back to the DSi menu. No, there's no options, extra game modes or any of that rubbish - it's truly a faithful homage to the old days when you pressed start to play and that was the end of it.

The track consists of lanes in nested squares - just like Dodge 'Em - but the track is vertical, filling both DS screens and there's some nice houses and trees in the middle. Our blond bandit needs to drive her red car about collecting all the coins to get to the next stage whilst avoiding the fuzz - a white cop car driven by a another babe in a blue uniform. Get busted three times in a level and it's all over!

If you've played Dodge 'Em this game will be pretty familiar play-wise. The controls are the same: d-pad to move your car between lanes at break points (these change with each level), whilst pressing the B button will shift into high gear. As with Dodge 'Em you'll want to apply the extra speed strategically to avoid the other car during a lane change or outrun it. There's also a new control element: the L and R triggers will allow you to U-turn in either direction, which can be handy for a quick escape and adds an additional element of strategy.

Starting in the second level you'll find some pick-ups scattered about: oil cans which provide a massive speed boost – both benefit and hazard, emblems for bonus points, a traffic signal which slows you down and caltrops that you can drop with a press of the A button, leaving a icon that will spin the next car to hit it out of control. Try to make sure it isn't you!

The visuals are nice and the title screen and in-game music is pretty good. Your top five scores are recorded (no initials sadly) to show your friends how you fill your time. It's a fun little game you can play for 5-10 minutes at a time with enough small thrills that we found ourselves making surprised utterances and breaking out in grins uncontrollably. If you have an import DSi and have a fondness for the oldies, the 200 Point price tag makes it an easy purchase, but whether or not it will cross the ocean is another matter entirely.