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Dick Tracy

Genre: Action Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1990

Dick Tracy was made in mid-1990 by Sega. It was based on the extremely popular 1989 movie of the same name. The game hardly has a plot; it’s just Dick Tracy getting leads on the evil Big Boy’s organized crime syndicate. Don’t expect anything CLOSE to mystery-solving here!

There are three buttons; one fires your normal Tommy gun (it simply shoots like a Mega Man bullet). You can also punch while you’re in very close combat. Another button is for jumping, like in all action games. The most interesting of the three is the machine gun; you fire it exclusively at the background for enemies there that you can’t make physical contact with.

The game play goes like this: enemies rush/fire at you, and you shoot them. Sometimes enemies will come through doors, cars, and windows in the background and also fire at you- you shoot them too. As you can see, this game requires a lot of technique and will take months to master! [/sarcasm]

The idea of fighting enemies in the background while fighting people coming after you is a pretty cool one but the execution needs work. The game is pretty darn fun for the first thirty minutes or so, but the jollity prorates apace (or fun ends fast, kiddies). You soon get the exact same few goons attacking by the hundreds! That being said, this game can be an excellent test of reflexes and hand/eye coordination!

The control needs work. While the machine gun control is perfect, it’s too hard to change direction with the normal gun because it’s not rapid-fire. Second, DT moves at the speed of a slug (the gastropod, not the bullet)! Another big problem with the control is the actual movement. One jump from Mega Man or a Belmont can go three times the distance of one of DT’s. Plus it looks so stupid! You have to see it to believe it!

The graphics are just plain bland. Nothing is as detailed as it should be. The buildings and boxes in the background have very simple one-line/ two-color patterns. You very seldom see more than four colors on the screen at once.

The characters don’t look that bad. Most of them are pretty immaculate- you can see DT’s trademark yellow trench coat and hat, and most of the bad guys look like mafia members, just as they’re supposed to. The strategy often goes down to what color suit and tie the enemies wear. The ”begin/end” level scenes look like 60’s comic books, and that’s not a bad thing.

Most of the game has mob movie music (try saying that three times fast), consisting of the bass, low-key piano, and single drum hit once and a while. On the down side, it all sounds very fake, as if it were done on a $20 keyboard. Overall, the music is not the greatest but still helps the mood of the game.

Soundwise, it’s mostly ” POW! POW! RATATATATATATATATAT! POW! POW! POW! RATATATAT! POW!” Get the idea? That’s all you’ll hear through the entire game. They sound pretty realistic, but there could certainly be more sounds.

No joke at all, this game has the most straightforward levels I’ve EVER seen in my 12 years of gaming! The only thing that ever really changes this is the enemy variety! And even with that, you only get about one new enemy per level. You just walk forward veeeeeerrrrry slowly while stopping every two seconds to shoot something. Some levels try to change this- there are a few levels where you don’t have either gun and you have to fight with your fists, and a few car levels where you hang on to a car while sending and taking bullets (how someone could take a bullet while still hanging on to a car is beyond me!) to/from other cars that mysteriously have seven people pop out of them one at a time. Last but not least, there are some bosses (characters from the comic, like Lips and Nitro) that all fight in the background. Some of them do different things like throw grenades, but they’re all basically just enemies that can take ten hits.

However, there are some pretty cool bonus rounds where three cardboard pictures of people pop up for one second. They’re perfectly positioned with the buttons A, B, and C. Some are armed criminal pictures and some are of innocents/allies. You have to use your instinct to hit the right guys before they all move back down, and you get rewarded with lives and continues depending on how many good guys you spare and how many baddies you hit. That’s enough to bring it up a point.

The best aspect of the game still leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of impulse involved in this, but there are also quite a few inescapable shots. What to do when they’re three guys shooting at you from the background while two are on each side of you in the foreground? The only thing you can do is choose which will hit you less! Speaking of which, you have eight points of health. No attack takes away more than two. That may sound good, but the levels are quite long and very redundant, to a point that sometimes you’ll even lose skill and instinct from pure boredom!

Things get so monotonous sometimes that you might give up before you even lose all of your continues! After a couple of playing sessions you’ll leave this alone for a long while. There are absolutely no secrets (heck, there aren’t even any items!) or different paths to take at all. Then again, sometimes you may be in the mood for some mindless action. Then you might want to pop this in for a good ten minutes.

This game certainly has its moments but most of them are near the beginning. It was a nice try to make such an impulse game, this is possibly even good therapy but the three bucks you’d probably pay for it would be better spent on The Revenge of Shinobi or something. This game is an ultimate test of reflexes, but not much else at all.

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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2 Comments

  1. Crackdown says:

    I think this review is really harsh. This was actually one of the first Megadrive game I ever played and I think it still stands up really well today. Not only does it capture the feel of the film really well but it also has a lot of original features that work evry well.

    • JustRob says:

      I agree, even though I’ve never even seen the movie I loved this game as a kid, and still do. That just goes to show that some games aren’t just good because of a license, but because they’re actually good. The story doesn’t matter, it’s just this old boy shooting up some mobsters. Naturally a guy in his forties isn’t gonna run as fast or jump as high as Megaman.

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