EDIT: Hey look, as of 8/9/11 I’m #11 in the world rankings!

The French company Neko Entertainment (French company with a Japanese name? Huh?) was putting together a retail puzzler called DodoGo, yet for some reason or another, the game ended up being split in half and offered as two DSiWare downloads: DodoGo! and DodoGo! Challenge, both of which are big fish in a small pond- outshining most other games available in the e-shop.

It’s a tropical island in the time of the dinosaurs, and the dodos are in danger! A tidal wave has swept over their nests and scattered the eggs all over the island and adjacent islands, and it’s all up to you to get them safely back to their nests. But the diabolical Caiman Vinicius has his eyes on some eggcellent dinners, and goes about setting all the animals on the islands against the eggs.

If you’ve played Mario vs Donkey Kong: March of the minis, then you’ll be familiar with DodoGo’s gameplay style. You are given a certain number of tools to use on each of the 160 normal levels and 32 bonus levels that comprise DodoGo! and DodoGo! Challenge, which you must use strategically to get the eggs in the nest and in a good mood. With these tools you can alter the landscape in order to avoid hazards that will lead the Dodo eggs to their doom and ultimately, their extinction (though you kind of have to wonder what the point is when they went extinct anyway). The ways in which you manipulate the stages are nearly endless. You can blast, burn, cut, spring, dig, smash… the list goes on and on. And not only are there hazards in the landscape, but some levels contain the animals that Vinicius has pitted against you. These animals must either be avoided or used to your advantage. You are awarded medals based on your performance at the end of each level. The goal is to save at least one egg in each level, though you must save all of them to get a medal. In the bonus levels you control an automated robo-egg. Your goal in these is to collect all the targets scattered about in order to unlock goodies like new avatars, disguises for your eggs and jokers, which can be used to skip the exceptionally nasty levels.

The game is played using all touch controls, though the D-pad can be used to scroll about the area (or the ABXY buttons if you’re left-handed), which is extremely helpful as you work on the many tricky puzzles.

As far as aesthetics go, the game is very pleasing. The stylised cel-shaded graphics and catchy music fit the goofy theme of the game. The soundtracks during the actual levels do a good job of staying in the background and not getting annoying if you’re struggling for a long time on a particularly devious puzzle.

Their are a few drawbacks, though my gripes are small. The controls usually go smoothly, but can be touchy, especially when you need to stop an egg from blundering into a hazard. They won’t always respond to your commands which led to quite a few do-overs. DodoGo also had it’s fair share of bugs. Sometimes an egg would die but I could still see it there, though it was like a ghost and completely unresponsive to any commands. Also in Dodogo Challenge, one of the cutscenes seemed to be missing its sound. Then there are disguises that you can equip to your eggs to make the experience extra-silly. The disguises are different in DodoGo! and DodoGo! Challenge, yet in Challenge when you equip a disguise, it appears in the levels as one of the disguises from the first game. It may not impede your puzzle-solving, but it is slightly annoying.

DodoGo! is a game full of charm. Those silly, laughing eggs can’t help but make you smile as the roll and bounce about the levels to their nests. Not only that, but it’s a challenging game that will stretch the limits of your creativity and ability to think outside the box. Though the initial tutorial levels go a bit slowly, you’ll soon find yourself immersed in a wealth of tricky and varied levels that really require your best thinking cap to get through. And the replayability is high because you’ll want to keep doing levels over to get the highest score on each. While it does have some drawbacks DodoGo! is by far the best and most fun puzzle game I have ever played. It’s well worth the $8 (plus $5 if you want to pick up Challenge as well) and then some. I have a hard time figuring out why this didn’t become a retail game, because it’s certainly more than good enough.