Developer: Echo Peak
Publisher: 505 Games
Review Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade
Review Copy Provided By: 505 Games
Release Date: May 3, 2013
My appreciation for Snoop Dogg and his flavor of hip hop almost rivals my appreciation for puns, sarcastic references, and general snarkiness. That is why developer Echo Peak’s new title Way of the Dogg has me torn. It stars Snoop Dogg as a Kung Fu Master pulling a Mister Miyagi to fictional character America Jones who is hell bent on revenge for the murder of his girl. Way of the Dogg is a fighting game in the form of a rhythm game that has roots in a couple of different oddball Japanese titles like Elite Beat Agents and PaRappa The Rapper. Between Way of the Dogg and Snoop’s transition to Snoop Lion, Snoop Dogg is either a genius or sipped way too much Gin & Juice.
Way of the Dogg heavily borrows its gameplay from the Ouendan series that contains the Nintendo DS title Elite Beat Agents. Button sequences are connected in phases with each phase starting with a halo shrinking down to the first button in the sequence. The button is pressed when the halo overlaps the outside of the button and then a cursor moves along the path between buttons and each button on the path is hit as the cursor reaches it. Timing plays a big factor here as it does in other rhythm games. Complexity is added with some sequences requiring a button to be held, rapidly pressed, or modified with holding the analog stick in the required direction.
Each level/fight is set to a Snoop Dogg song and if you make it to the end of the song you win the fight. Rinse and repeat through nearly 20 levels over the course of a 2 hour campaign. The selection of songs are a bit strange with hits like Who Am I making it in but even more popular songs like Gin & Juice not making the cut. The selection is still Snoop though and should satisfy any fan that wishes to press buttons to the beat and mellow rapping of the D O double G. The only issue is that the explicit parts are bleeped which can throw off the beat. The same beat that is a big necessity in a rhythm based game.
Way of the Dogg attempts to deliver a campy blaxploitation story but ends up presenting a package that looks more like a cash grab with boring and derivative material. Almost every cliche in the book is present including The Man. The cliches should serve the story but the reverse ends up true and the plot ends up feeling like it was set up to just check off something on a list. With the inclusion of an out of place time travel twist thanks to Snoop’s chronic, I am not sure that the developers weren’t out back trying to get some first hand experience with a little puff puff give. Of course when you start fighting the exact same fights again after going back in time, it becomes clear that this plot twist was used to artificially extend the game rather than story telling.
The graphical design is one of the better parts of Way of the Dogg with cell shaded art and a very heavy blaxploitation style. Due to the nature of the game, you probably won’t be able to focus on the nice art though due to watching the phrases for button presses. It seems the designers realized this though as the animations during the fights repeat.. a lot. There does not seem to be much effort put into choreographing entertaining fights.
Way of the Dogg is a strange beast to score. Parts taken individually are solid. The gameplay is average, it looks good, and it sounds good but the whole package ends up feeling less worthy. It could be the plot but I think it ends up being a lack of passion in the project to present a compelling and entertaining game. Blood Dragon is a game that knows how to do camp leaving the biggest disappointment for Way of the Dogg being wasted opportunity. Everything seems a little dimmer when the prime example is shining so brightly.