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Door Door (NES) artwork

Door Door (NES) review

"A game like this thrives on simple, addictive and fast-paced gameplay. It has simplicity down pat, but where it falters is speed."

Playing Door Door makes my heart sink. 1985 is dead and gone, and this game wants you to remember that. It first teases you with a simple and possibly addictive premise: a non-violent single-screener where you make use of various closed doors situated on Donkey Kong-esque platforms to eliminate the ever-present threat of giant orange slugs, pink squids wearing bowties, and villainous amoebas.

And how does one defeat such enemies without violence? Any other developer these days would probably have you repeatedly shutting the doors on the cute little enemies until they're on the ground twitching. Door Door came out in less sadistic times; you know, when it was okay to stab an enemy with a harpoon attached to an industrial air pump and fill them up until they explode. This game is quite benign about dealing with enemies. You open a door, wait for the enemies to enter it, and then close the door. Sound easy?

A game like this thrives on simple, addictive and fast-paced gameplay. It has simplicity down pat, but where it falters is speed.

Opening and closing a door couldn't be as simple as hitting a button. You have to run past it to open and close it; that is, in one direction to open it and the opposite to close it. You can only open doors from certain directions. If it has a handle on the left side, then you have to approach it from the left side to open it. The only exception is the rare multi-handled door.

After opening a door, you have to wait for the legions of darkness cuteness to enter it. All the while, you should be watching your back to make sure pink Cthulhu or a similar nightmare isn't sneaking up on you. Wait too long to close the door once the enemies have entered and they'll sneak back out. You cannot reuse a door that has been used to commit door-murder.

It's not just a matter of opening and waiting. You have to trick the AI, position yourself in the right places, take the right ladders at the right time, jump over enemies when necessary, and avoid getting surrounded. To do this, you have to use yourself as bait. You will spend most of the game running away and only a small portion of it opening and closing doors. It doesn't take very long before eliminating enemies is quite the task, as it often takes a while before you can safely close a door without dying. Trial and error seems to be one of your best allies.

I would love to say that the chases are intense, that the gameplay is fast and furious, and that it demands the most of your skill, planning and reacting. You would think with such cute abominations chasing after you that your character would haul ass. Instead he runs with speed and skill of a haggard bag lady. He inches to every ladder, crawls to open doors. It's difficult not to get tired of this game when the most desperate chases involve a white puff ball in a hat running at a snail's speed away from what looks like an evil green balloon floating a hair slower than an arthritic tortoise walks.

Climbing ladders is the pits. It seems your bag lady/fur ball moves even slower then. It takes such a long chunk of time that climbing a ladder is about as safe as skipping into 55 mile-per-hour traffic. Unless you know precisely what you're doing, enemies can easily take advantage of the slow down and approach you from either side of the ladder. You could try outrunning these guys, but you actually move a tad slower than some of them. If you try to outrun the squids without bothering to climb down or give them the slip, you will be reduced to a bruised inky corpse. Bear in mind that you don't get any passwords or continues. Game over is really game over. That's a shame since the game relies so much on trial and error.

The intense challenge would be much more appreciated if Door Door were more exciting. Maybe it was circa 1985, but we're living a full three decades later. Other games of the same style and from that era have aged much better. Even busting out old Boulderdash or Bomberman or Dig Dug is a wiser use of your time. Those titles may have aged, but not this poorly. The cuteness is excusable. The non-violent themes are not an issue. The challenge and concept both manage to intrigue. However, the slow gameplay, likely par for the course eons ago, sinks what used to be a unique arcade-style outing.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (July 28, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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