Evil guy wants princess, hero/underdog want to save her – sound familiar? Well how about a dead, skeletal hero who (when imbibed with a certain potion) can turn into a charming, strong prince? In this 2D puzzler with an obvious tip-of-the-hat to every princess stealing game there has ever been, you steal the princess from the evil lord, and try and escape the castle with her. The only problem with this plan you’ve concocted is that the evil lord you’re stealing her from has scattered guards, obstacles, and a bunch of special baddies throughout this puzzle-laden trap of a castle you’re stuck in. If you and the princess want to escape in one piece, you’ll have to be smart - and quick. As you only have the ability to jump, hit, and perform action events (such as levers) in your normal form, it’s obvious that the game isn’t really about a range of combat or maneuvering skills. The mechanics of game play may be simple, but that doesn’t mean the game is easy by any means; at its heart, Dokuro is a puzzle game - a game where only those good at problem solving will prevail. Some of the levels took me one try, no deaths, and less than a minute… but there are levels that I died over a hundred times on before I figured out. This is the game version of the Dog-Cat-Mouse conundrum; there is a solution, but it takes thought, planning, and perfect follow-through. The level designs are simple, and again; this reminds me of ‘Mario’ so much. The world is set on a wallpaper-like scrolling black and white background and you platform across in front of it. Interact-able objects are drawn in the foreground, while the background sets the scene and is irrelevant to the game play. Most of the game involves jumping around collecting each level’s coin, and maneuvering the items that are around to create a straight, non-broken walking line from start to finish for the princess to follow without harm. Sometimes creating a straight, un-broken line is impossible – at which time you must take your potion and become the hero, picking the princess up and carrying her to safety (suck it Mario, this guy actually gets the girl). Different chalks also aid you in different ways along the way – white is like rope, red is like a wick, and blue chalk summons water (these different chalks are really your only touch screen usage in the game, aside from a double tap to get you in and out of “hero” mode). The ends of sub-levels are marked with a flower that blooms when the princess nears it, and the next part of the level starts almost seamlessly with a press of a button. Along the way, some sub-levels also contain enemies as well as the normal puzzles; bad guys range from small undead guys, to floating grim-reaper type creatures, fire spirits, and even the dark lord and his higher-up minions. Every level set has a “boss” at the end, and you must defeat him to enter the next part of the castle. Some encouragement, perhaps? At the end of each of the fourteen areas of the castle you must face a boss to continue (another ‘Mario’ moment for me). These boss fights are very much structured like the boss battles in Super Mario World – you fight a boss who has a limited hit amount, or an instant kill possibility (such as getting crushed, or falling in a hole – akin to falling in lava in the Mario games), and you do it player versus boss 1-on-1. Like the fireball-avoiding in many “koopa” battles, in boss battles your job in this situation is to avoid the attacks and lay enough hits to kill. Oddly enough, the boss segments are much easier than most of the puzzles, which makes for a bit of imbalance in the game structure. It’s forgivable however, as you’re thrown right back into more puzzles as soon as they finish. - Graphics are superb for what they are – I noticed no fame drops, tearing, or other errors/flaws. It is a 2D platformer though, so I wouldn’t expect Killzone Mercenary to tremble from its graphical prowess. Sound is as you might expect as well – crisp effect noises, monotonous background music, and sound-loops. I really don’t play this kind of game with the sound on so I can’t really comment on how quick that’ll drive you crazy, though I can honestly say it’s not as bad as some of the other music faux-pas out there. As for whether or not I enjoy the game, I very much do. It reminds me of a lot of good things about platformers from the past, and the puzzle aspect will keep me busy for a long time to come. I’ve still yet to actually finish the game, but I’m sure I’m not leaving anything out really – this game is built on a puzzles-get-harder type of game play that means some people will never get there. I plan to, however; and I’ll be getting the Platinum trophy along with it. If you’ve got a few extra bucks, or love platformers or puzzle games – this one’s for you. I’m giving Dokuro an 8/10 – A must-buy considering the price and length of game play. - Bonus Screens: Princess Carrying - Enemies want to eat her? - She doesn't like the real you.