Telstra Corporation Dung

Project Joystick's debut title makes its messy landing

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Telstra Corporation Dung
  • Telstra Corporation Dung
  • Telstra Corporation Dung
  • Telstra Corporation Dung

Pros

  • Surprisingly tactile, appealing graphics, plenty of scope for re-playability, it stars a dung beetle

Cons

  • Might be a bit too easy for experienced gamers

Bottom Line

Project Joystick's debut title is an addictive little gem of a game that practically anyone can enjoy. If you're sick of nutting out endless sudoku puzzles on the train ride home, give it a try — you won't be disappointed. Despite its namesake, Dung is in no way a stinker.

Would you buy this?

Last year, Telstra BigPond launched Project Joystick: a nationwide competition offering Australians the chance to design their very own computer game. Aimed primarily at the mobile phone market, the plan was to discover a fresh game idea that was accessible, addictive and, above all, fun. Now, after six months of intensive development, the winning entry has finally been unveiled. The result, quite frankly, is a load of dung — but not in the way you might be expecting.

Dung is a 2D puzzle game that basically involves throwing balls of faeces at stuff. We're somewhat surprised that Telstra would go for such a risque premise, but then we suppose toilet humour is pretty universal. The star of the game is a dung beetle called Dudley who has been charged with rescuing his 'dungling' buddies from captivity.

For reasons never fully explained, this is achieved by hurling dung at assorted garden foliage, including twigs, leaves and toadstools. There's also a princess to rescue and a spider to defeat, but the game's storyline is naturally just an excuse for some disposable, puzzle-themed action. Before we get to the meat of the game, however, let's talk a little about Dung's developers, as well as Dudley himself (hey, when else are we going to get the chance to talk about dung beetles?)

Dung was turned into a reality by Firemint: a successful Australian-based developer that specialises in portable gaming. While it might not be a household name, Firemint is no slouch in the industry, having produced titles for the likes of THQ, Electronic Arts and Disney. Previous mobile games by the company include Need for Speed Most Wanted, Star Trek: The Cold Enemy and Madden NFL '08 3D. As you would expect, this has helped to give Dung the professional sheen it deserves, with bright, appealing graphics throughout.

For a character with such a filthy pastime, Dudley has been designed to look as plucky and inoffensive as possible (think Sonic, minus the attitude). In the story mode, Dudley crops up at various intervals to share some 'hilarious' jokes and one-liners. The highlight, if you can call it that, is probably a pun about toad's stools (he should probably stick to his day job of rolling dung.) As far as game characters go, Dudley isn't going to give Niko Bellic or Mario a run for their money, but we suppose he's pretty cute for a poo-encrusted critter.

Having been designed for mobile phones, the rules to Dung are relatively straightforward. Dudley must throw his ball of dung at the rows of flora above him, which make up the game board. Points are scored by racking up combos, with the ball bouncing freely from object to object. When the ball finally returns to earth, you need to ensure Dudley is nearby so he can catch it. Once you've scored a certain amount of points, a dungling will appear on the game board. To rescue the dungling, all you need to do is hit him with the dung ball (personally, we'd prefer to stay captured!).

The game plays like a cross between Internet time-wasting favourite Bejewelled and Atari's age-old arcade classic Breakout. If you enjoyed either of those games, you'll probably dig Dung too. In addition to the main game, there's a smattering of arcade modes and different difficulty levels, which should help to extend the game's longevity.

Initially, we found the game to be too simplistic and easy for its own good. Firing your dung ball off in any direction seems to net you hundreds of points, with the dunglings swiftly saved and little-to-no strategy involved. However, later levels ramp up the difficulty with the introduction of ball-destroying and point-nullifying objects. Naturally, you need to avoid these fiendish objects at all costs, which forces you to work out the ball's flight path before you actually throw it. With that being said, experienced gamers will zip through the main game in less than an hour, though there's always the incentive to return and better your score.

Dung is available to download from the BigPond Games Shop for a total cost of $5. A PC version of the game is also available from the same service for $9.95.

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