White-Water Domo Review
Posted by Philip J Reed
Preferable to drowning. Just.
Our week-long Domopalooza continues with a look at White-Water Domo, which finds our fuzzy, angular hero kayaking along a periodically-treacherous stream. As a single component in the larger cluster of Domo DSiWare titles, White-Water Domo doesn't do much to stand out, but neither does it do much wrong. In fact, "it doesn't do much" is about the best and worst thing to say about the game.
You pilot Domo downstream with the D-pad, using B to row more quickly, and A to jump. That's all there is to it; there are no touch-controls or needless complications. This is a good thing. And unlike Hard-Hat Domo, the controls here are tight and responsive. Simplicity is key with games like this, and it's tough to find anything simpler than White-Water Domo.
There are six courses in total, representing all levels of difficulty, and you must place within the top three finishing-times (which are pre-set; there is unfortunately no AI to compete against, which would have kept things more interesting) to move on from any of them. The first course is so simple that it can literally be beaten without accelerating (try it and see!) but it gets difficult fast; rocks will either need to be avoided or jumped over, and sharp falls can capsize Domo's kayak. By stage six it will be a genuine challenge just to stay afloat.
One additional difficulty setting can be unlocked, along with a Time Attack mode. While these additions are unlikely to entice anybody who wasn't already interested in the game, they are nice to have and do add a small amount of replayability.
Unfortunately, there's not much else to say about the game. Domo is there. He is in a kayak. Those two sentences alone will conjure up the image of a very basic game in your head, and that's exactly the game that's been released on DSiWare. No interesting surprises but, likewise, no enormous disappointments either. White-Water Domo is just there.
An endless mode would have been nice: perhaps you'd get to steer Domo down a challenging course to see how far you could get before you capsized, with the top ten distances recorded. That would have added some nice replayability. Or anything, really; even a single AI opponent to compete against would have been an enormous help. Hopping Domo over the same stones in the same six courses for the rest of eternity is only so appealing, and any variation would have been welcome.
The presentation along the way is nice, though. The top screen either displays a map (moderately pointless as consulting it will distract you from the action on the bottom screen and nearly always result in a collision) or an amusingly-staged picture of Domo paddling away. The animation in this game is miles ahead of what it was in Hard-Hat Domo, which makes the already low-seeming production values of Hard-Hat even more confusing.
Overall White-Water Domo is fun for the few minutes that it takes to master the six courses, and it might be worth picking up to play again a few months later, but we doubt it's anything you'll return to regularly.
White-Water Domo isn't the worst of the Domo games, nor is it the best: it simply is what it is. Gliding down the river looks and feels nice enough, but a lack of variation makes itself known as quickly as the second level. If you like the idea of steering a furry rectangle between rocks and over waterfalls, then this is certainly the game for you. If you're looking for something with more originality or staying-power though, it just might be worth looking elsewhere.