Somewhere in a dark castle — enchanted with treacherous traps and monsters — there lives a single imprisoned Dodo, whom is horribly distraught at the fact that all of her eggs have been whisked away by the castle’s ruler. However, this lowly land bound bird — whom isn’t willing to become the last of her kind — decides to break free from her cage one night and successfully take back every last one of her eggs! In order to do this she must jump — double jump, complete with blue pixie dust explosions — and even stomp her way towards victory, or else she and her kind just might truly become the subjects of extinction.

screen480x480So goes the setup to Dodo Master (out now, $0.99), the recently released — and ultra challenging — old school style platforming experience brought to the iTunes Marketplace by Semir Saleh. The game comes complete with extremely tight controls, beautiful 3D graphics, over twenty different lengthy levels, and that special brand of unforgivingly addictive difficulty that has been in short supply these days. Furthermore — to top it all off — the game contains absolutely no IAPs whatsoever, meaning that Dodo Master’s entrance fee is the only money you’ll ever have to pay out for a complete experience.

The game is controlled via the left and right movement buttons located on the screen’s left hand side, and also via the jump and stomp buttons placed on the device’s other end. Whereas many similar setups have run into issues where the game would either fail to register inputs — randomly decide the player was pushing different buttons entirely — or even be hard for players to keep their fingers properly placed, these were not issues here. The unusually impeccable tightness of Dodo Master’s on-screen controls are certainly a necessity here as well, since — as I previously mentioned — this game is chock full of numerous classical style moments of unforgiving platforming challenge.

To that end your Dodo will be challenged to avoid blazing pits, spike lines walls, swinging pendulums, falling axes, collapsing platforms, spectral creatures launching fireballs, relentless conveyor belts, and so much more! Carefully evading these traps — which start off easy enough, but quickly go straight to the frustration zone — will demand all of your patience and platforming skill, yet are always rewarding when you succeed. Thankfully — unlike the actual NES classics — players here have unlimited lives with which to finish each stage, with unfortunate demises — of which there will be many — merely sending your Dodo back to the last checkpoint reached instead of a Game Over screen.

screen480x480Although finishing each stage is certainly a requirement unto itself, even more important is for players to find each and every last Dodo egg hidden within each of the game’s twenty different levels. Not only was this mission the initial impetus for the mother’s daring breakout attempt, but doing so will furthermore unlock access to an ever growing arsenal of hats with which to customize your avian heroine. After all, what’s the point of narrowly escaping an evil trap laden castle — with all of your future children in tow — if you can’t do so all while looking absolutely stylish in the process?

Speaking of looking good, Dodo Master’s entire presentation is impeccably rendered in quality 3D — complete with moody lighting effects — ensuring that every last ounce of the castle’s nooks and crannies are as creepily amazing to look at as conceivably possible. Although this is also where the game’s main downside comes into play, as the often dark colors schemes that abound throughout the dungeons means that details can sometimes blend together. In at attempt to alleviate this there will be red sparkles located near bad things, as well as blue sparkles found near good things, but even with these measures you will sometimes realize that something was covered with spikes only after being impaled. The annoyingness of this occasional graphical quirk is — however — largely minimalized thanks to the game’s aforementioned inclusion of infinite lives, coupled with there being an abundance of checkpoints spread all over the place.

iFanzine Verdict: I’ll be honest with you, I’d probably also want to lock up a Dodo — in the process forcing her to breed an almighty army of fat birds, all of whom can kill things in a single stomp — if I were an evil wizard seeking world domination. I am not, however, and therefore this tale of one Dodo’s double jumping — ground pounding — rescue/escape mission instead makes for a fine display of hardcore platforming action. With its mixture of tight controls — beautiful graphics — and a complete lack of IAPs to get in the way, those whom long ago cut their gaming teeth on NES classics will find much to enjoy within Semir Saleh’s Dodo Master. The only downside to the entire deal is that the moody nature of the game’s graphics can sometimes obscure the presence of deadly traps, a problem made trivial thanks to infinite lives and frequent checkpoints.