Review: Dodo (Kosmos Games)

The dodo – a strange bird and relative of the well-known pigeon – has a bit of a dorky and dumb image. This feels pretty mean when you consider that the dodo is extinct and thus can no longer fend for itself. With its bulky body and stumpy wings, this weird creature unfortunately did not manage to make it to modern times. The dodo’s appearance perhaps contributes to its image. Is the dodo extinct due to human influence? Probably, but the theory that the dodo became extinct because Dutch sailors found the bulbous beast very tasty has never been fully proven. In the board game Dodo, the titular creature isn’t too bright either, as this dumb dodo decided to hatch her egg on top of a mountain. The egg, of course, rolls down the mountain and, like its species, is threatened with extinction… Do you know how to save the egg?

Dodo is a children’s game with a fun gimmick. Before starting the game, the players first put together a real mountain made of cardboard and plastic. On top of the mountain stands the proud mother and lies her egg. The egg is special, because through an ingenious, almost magical technique the egg rolls down in a strange way. It is not a normal ball: often the egg goes down the mountain enormously slowly, almost step by step, and at times it slides down at an impatient pace. Mama dodo moves and the egg starts to roll….

How will you save the egg? On the side of the mountain plastic rocks are located that players can build bridges over to guide the rolling egg down safely. Players cannot simply place the bridges, as players must collect enough material to actually build the bridges. In turn – while in the background the egg slowly rolls down the mountain – players roll a die. On the faces of the die objects are pictured. The active player may now turn over one of the many round tokens on the table. If the object is a match with the die roll, then the token may be placed on a bridge under construction. If there is no match, the token must be turned back face down. As you can tell the game is mostly memory driven, but this mechanic is implemented in a nice way. You are not only dependent on a good memory, because there are plenty of objects on the table, slowly there are less and less tokens on the table and there are even joker tokens that help players on their way. In addition, players generally just need to play fast, which of course hilariously gets in the way of trying to utilise your memory skills. When you have turned over requisite number of tokens you may build a bridge. There are several bridges that players must build and as the game goes on players must use more and more materials. After the bridges are built, players also have to cobble together the boat to catch the egg. Will players manage to build everything before it goes all downhill?

Dodo is a highly entertaining game for young children. The central game mechanics are those innovative, but the implementation is nicely done and the gimmick with the egg provides a good dodo dose of excitement!