What is Dougie Moo, aside from a silly-yet-catchy name? Well, you’re a cow in an inner tube, and you float around in pools. Hmm… sounds like an iPhone game to me! Read on for the review!
My first impression of Dougie Moo was good. The presentation is polished, and even the menu water effects, though pixalated, are cool. I was especially impressed with the Settings menu, which had all
the options that made sense: sound, music, tilt calibration, etc. But there was one I haven’t seen before; Dougie Moo has a “battery save mode.” Battery life is a big complaint amongst iPhone users (although not personally). I found this to be quite a genius setting to add to, well, ANY game! This mode simply turns off the water ripple effects in the game, which isn’t a huge deal, but it does add to the game’s experience. As a bonus, all of these options are available in-game at any time, which is also quite smart. I used this when I miscalculated the calibration, and was able to change it during the first level rather than having to quit the game entirely.
Dougie Moo’s gameplay consists of combining colored balls in a pool by pushing them into each other. Combining two balls forms a large one, and this can be combined with either a small or large ball of the same color (for more points) to form a glowing orb that you collect to clear the level. Each level requires 4 orbs of a specific color to be collected. You can collect them in the specific order shown to gain bonus points. There is a 60 second timer that is reset whenever you collect an orb, so at first things are pretty easy. Unfortunately, that’s only for the first few levels.
As you progress through the game, you will find more and more that THIS GAME HATES YOU. You will find that each color of ball will eventually turn into either an enemy the hurts you by lowering your time limit, or an object that hinders your movement. It’s pretty random as to when a ball will transform, but what is certain is that each ball color spawns a specific type of enemy. Purple balls turn into bombs that explode when touched, red balls turn into sea urchins, blue balls turn into sharks, and teal balls turn into PUFFER FISH OF DEATH. These little S.O.B.s follow you around the level until they either hit you, or explode after about 20-30 seconds.
The problem with the enemies, is rather than knocking away balls in their path, the balls simply disappear as they are touched. It’s hard enough to push balls around a pool by tiling your phone, but to have your hard work “dissappeared” by a renegade puffer fish is pretty frustrating. I also found the collision detection between Dougie and enemies to be pretty poor at times. There was one instant where a puffer fish ran into me, and my time when from 60 seconds to zero instantly. Game over.
Controlling Dougie Moo with tilt works fine, and is responsive enough. The problem comes with trying to actually move balls where you want them to go (aka, pushing one ball into another to combine it). It’s hard enough without a damn puffer fish on your tail, sharks crossing your path, and bombs and sea urchins strewn about! Maybe the game was made like this intentionally to make this game more difficult, but seriously, after say level 10 or so, it gets pretty ridiculous. There a few bonus levels scatterd between the normal levels to provide some relief, but even these can get pretty tough!
Perhaps the difficulty of this game would have been off-set by the ability to save or continue your game after you die, but sadly, there is no such relief. When you die, it’s over. There is a top scores list which is nice, but I would rather it reset my score and give me the option to continue the game! There is absolutely no save option at all, and if you hit the home button in the middle of the game, you have to start over the next time you launch the game.
Presentation & Graphics:
Graphics are not amazing, but are good enough. Different level locations are cool, and vary from swimming pool, to tropical, to arctic, and more. Water ripple effects descent, but are far too pixelated, especially when compared to a water engine like Koi Pond. The animation is mostly good, but you can see where some shortcuts were taken (like when balls turn into enemies, or when they combine).
Music is ambient, which is nice and peaceful. Unfortunately, there are almost no sound effects! No water sounds, no sounds when you combine balls… would have helped to have more sound to help immerse the player in the game.
Far too difficult to really enjoy if you are a casual gamer. However, if you’re hardcore, the challenge of this game could drawn you in. Really could have used a training mode, or maybe just a further tweaking of the floating ball physics? Either way it’s pretty tough to push around the floating balls with much accuracy, which is also frustrating.
Sadly, with the inability to save your game, or continue when you lose, I’m pretty sure this lovable cow won’t stay on your home screen for long. After a few run-throughs, it’s hard to find a reason to completely start over again every time you fail a level, especially when even the easy levels are tough due to the difficulty of pushing orbs around by tilting.
The problem with Dougie Moo isn’t that it’s a bad game, it’s just that if a game is frustratingly difficult, it needs to give the player a way to escape that frustration. The simple option to continue after dying or save your game would have almost completely made up for this. Also, perhaps a practice mode for the levels you’ve unlocked would have helped as well so when you get to that level in the main game, you are prepared for it. I think Doogie Moo has some good potential, and is definitely more polished than a lot of games out there, but it definitely could use some more work to be consistently enjoyable for the casual gamer. With some control/physics tweaks, and a bit more grace with enemies, Dougie Moo could be quite enjoyable. Although I suppose if you want an extremely challenging game for the iPhone, and you have time to sit and play through it in one sitting, give it a look!