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May 16, 2011

iPhone – Dojobreaker Review

by Master Pillow

Dojobreaker is a guilty pleasure.  No more no less.  It has only a very thin veneer of gameplay but it still managed to hold my attention due to the fact that it presents a RPG based mechanic of character grinding that I find addictive.  I fully admit that sometimes, especially during a RPG title that I am enjoying, that I like to basically spend hours mowing down monsters just to grind out more EXP and in turn make my party stronger.  At times this obsession with gaining power goes a bit too far as I approach the final boss and kick his behind so hard that it feels anticlimactic.

Dojobreaker is not actually a RPG but rather nothing more than a character simulator that relies more on scrolling text than anything else. The goal of the game is deceptively simple to create and train your own personal fighter who goes around trying to beat up everyone he/she sees.   Logging in to the game is linked directly to your Facebook account so before a player can even begin it forces them to create one which is a bit of a hassle.  Mark Zuckerberg should be pleased.

Regardless, once logged in the player is then also given the option to use location services whereby your current site can be used to setup your dojo.  Having a personal virtual dojo right where you live is kind of cool albeit a very lonely feature since this is intended to act as a kind of social gathering spot where players can invite friends to join.  In this fashion, the dojo can begin to build experience while making some needed cash.  In theory, nearby virtual dojos can challenge each other but since I have no friends (boo), nor do I detect any other dojos near me, this feature is next to useless.

Next, the game presents the character generator which has a rather decent set of choices such as allowing different sexes, faces, skin tones and hairstyles.  Funny enough it doesn’t allow different hair colours and when changing skin tone it automatically changes faces as well.  Throw in your own name or alias and it’s time to enter the core game.

Right away there is a sense of bewilderment as things are not well explained.  On the top of the screen is your avatar looking exactly the same as you designed him/her with the exception of their clothing.  Also on the top part of the screen is your current GPS location.  Below that is a speak button which doesn’t seem to work at all as it opens Facebook but immediately gives an error message. Below your fighter is a picture of your dojo along with five different combatants of varying levels.  Clicking on one brings up the fight panel whereby you are given three sliders (Stance, Method & Style) that represent how exactly you want your fighter to tailor their combat skills.  I would guess that some opponents require different tactics but as of yet I can’t tell the difference.  Finally below these sliders are two buttons, one marked “peace” which lets you retreat and another called “fight” which you press to confirm that you indeed want to brawl.

From here the AI takes complete control of the fight based on your character’s skill level and whatever game plan you set.  Therefore, you’ll see the fight play out blow by blow with a series of text and icons showing how much damage your character is dishing out or absorbing along with what types of defense and attacks are being used.  This process goes on until either your fighter or your opponent runs out of health.  At the end of the tussle a fight reward screen pops up showing how much experience and money you’ve earned.  And that’s it!  The entire game merely revolves around choosing who to fight, setting a strategy and then sitting back and watching it automatically unfold before you.

As your fighter gains fame and fortune the money you collect is then in turn used either for training sessions or buying items.  Of the two the training is infinitely more rewarding as it acts to boost key fighting skills whereas items seem to be merely cosmetic and not to mention rather inappropriate such as dressing your female fighter in a sexy pink dress.  Obviously, Dojobreaker is not the only game to over sexualize both genders but at the moment there’s really no point but eye candy to spend hard earned ingame cash towards these items.

The game allows fighters to train in several fighting styles such as boxing, wrestling, muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and pro wrestling although everything but boxing is locked in the beginning and needs to be opened through level progression.  Each fighting style has different attack and defense categories that need to be trained as well such as boxing which features such attacking moves as jabs, straight to face or straight to body.  Initially, training these skills doesn’t take much energy but as the game progresses it becomes much tougher to raise these skills a few percentage points.

The game does have some very nicely drawn Korean manhua styled artwork.  Nevertheless, it also suffers from some strange translation errors that are unintentionally funny.  Thus when your fighter hits the streets to find opponents you’ll regularly find yourself battling “Model Citizens” who are rated as a level 1 mobster.  I have no idea how it is in South Korea but if model citizens are defined as mobsters I really do not want to meet a criminal of any kind.  Once beaten the defeated opponent will usually say some dialogue but it still comes off hilariously overwrought such as the model citizen who loses and says, “Please forgive my past actions!”  Really?  What did we ever do to this person besides walking up to them and punching them in the face?

Even the combat text is laced with grammatical mistakes and phrases which make little sense.  For example here’s one – “Gangster defense with ‘footwork of Boxing’, but defense did not work!” Players will understand that all developer NeowinGames has done is insert text into blank fields in a kind of copy-paste but it still feels sloppy.

Other instances of shoddy English infect none other than the status bar which shows that your fighter has something called “staminar” – maybe it’s a hair gel?  Of course I jest as we can all tell that the developer meant stamina but it is funny nonetheless.  Adding to the overall sense of confusion is that the game does a very poor job explaining the fundamentals as many options and strategies need to be discovered by players through normal gameplay experimentation.  This is a huge oversight that developer NeowinGames needs to correct as soon as possible as there are some controls that I had to find on my own that are never fully explained.

As you can see, Dojobreaker is a very niche game that is only going to appeal to those players who like grinding and building a character exactly the way they like.  Even then the text based gameplay is extremely limiting as many players will no doubt feel a massive disconnect with the title since they have no control over the outcome.  Make no mistake though, level progression is extremely slow especially as you progress up the levels as it begins to take longer and longer to gain experience.  Therefore, if what I’ve described so far sounds like it is right up your alley then chances are Dojobreaker will merit a quick look.  If not, then stay far away as there’s not enough here to keep you playing for long.

**1/2 out of ****

Reviewed On: iPad 2/iPhone 4

Date: May 16, 2011

Reviewed Version: 1.0.1

Size:  72.2 MB

Developer: NeoWinGames

© 2011 The Galactic Pillow

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