Thus being 2014, it really comes as no surprise that we are reaching the end of an era, the Famicom era. By now, many unreleased games have been discovered, dumped, and preserved for the masses, and the list of known retail games that have yet to be backed up has been decreasing by the minute. Regarding obscure games, it feels as though we are reaching the last frontier. On that frontier is Dooly Bravo Land.
Last summer I had the opportunity to purchase what I would consider the holy grails on the Famicom, namely Koko’s Adventure, Metal Force, and yup, you guessed it, Dooly Bravo Land. All of the aforementioned titles were published by Daou Infosys, an unlicensed Korean game outfit. While two of the elusive trio, Koko’s Adventure and Metal Force, offer gamers with a superb adventure, the third title from Daou, Dooly, somehow misses the mark.
Dooly was released in 1992, sometime during the middle of the Famicom’s lifespan. When loading the game up, one is immediately greeted with an appealing title screen, which depicts the lovable hero of the tale, Dooly. Pressing start takes us to a map screen, where the player can choose which stage he or she wants to try.
There are about eight or so different stages situated on the map screen. The sort of stages appearing in Dooly is quite varied; in one stage, the dinosaur is riding rollercoasters at a theme park, whereas in another stage he is fighting pesky bats in a cave. In one of the stages, Dooly has to fight his way through an enchanted castle, and in another he explores outer space! Likewise, there is a nice variety of enemies situated through the various stages. Based off of the level design of this game, Dooly Bravo Land seems like a good game…unfortunately, it’s a stinker.
Dooly Bravo Land *could* have been a superb platformer, but the game is marred by clunky controls. Dooly does not maneuver well throughout the stages that he traverses, and this can lead to a bunch of frustration. The dinosaur will walk to the right, get hit by a few enemies, and then die. Every time. The character does not respond as well to his surroundings as the protagonists in Koko’s Adventure and Metal Force do, and that is a bit of a letdown. The sloppy controls add to the challenge in this game, and despite the fact that the developers were merciful enough to provide gamers with unlimited continues, I have only been able to make it through about three-fourths of Dooly Bravo Land. And that leads to the big problem surrounding Dooly: it isn’t that fun.
When playing through Dooly Bravo Land, I feel as though I’m walking on eggshells. If I happily cruise along, I end up whipping the prehistoric hero into an enemy, and I need to restart the stage. If I poke, I feel as though I am slowing down the pace of the game too much, and I receive the same sensation that I get when playing Somari: one of agony and pain. And thus is the problem: Dooly Bravo Land had the potential of being a good game, but the mechanics of the game force the gamer to watch his or her every step. By doing this, the fun is quickly extracted from this game.
As a whole, Dooly Bravo Land certainly isn’t worth the price of admission. On a good day, the game is an average platformer at best, and on a bad day…well Dooly smells worse than a bunch of stale buffalo chips. I would leave this one for the collectors only.