Thursday, 18 July 2013

Retro Game - Dick Tracy (Mega Drive / Genesis)

Return of the Mac

Dick Tracy has to be one of the shittest names for a comic book hero I have ever heard. Seriously! Not only does he have a shocking name, but he also wears a bright yellow mac and hat. I guess tastes were very different back in the 1930's when Tracy first made it onto comic book stands. His popularity has obviously lasted over many decades however, as he has received video game adaptations on every system you can think of – from the 8-bit home micros, consoles and handhelds, to the 16-bit generation (Mega Drive and Amiga), as well as the PC and even mobile devices. The adaptation I enjoyed the most (I still have nightmares about the heinous NES version) is the Sega Mega Drive version from 1990.

Playing a lot like other side-scrolling 2d action platforms such as Shinobi and Rolling Thunder, it puts you in the (gum)shoes of Tracy (snigger) as he takes to the streets to gun down an entire legion of mob henchmen – All nicely dressed in gangster coats of about 4 different, bright colours. Unlike Shinobi and its ilk, you cannot jump between the two 'levels' of a stage, but Dick Tracy has a different trick up its sleeve. Here you can use one button to fire forwards at adversaries in front or behind you (turn to face them first though, you fool), and a second button which causes Dick (lol) to let rip with the Tommy
Gun into the background. Henchmen appear from alleys, doors, or cars and open fire at you (small bullet effects appear where they are firing so you have a chance to avoid it) and you return fire, moving a cursor across the screen to aim. It adds another level to the, otherwise simplistic, run 'n gun gameplay, causing you to have to stop regularly to dispatch these 'background' enemies.

Not only is the actual shooting, ducking and jumping on the foreground plane enjoyable, but these background shoot-outs are even more satisfying. Letting rip with machine gun fire, destroying windows and cars, while taking out goons, is great fun and never gets old. Most of the boss fights are conducted in this fashion, but with multiple enemies approaching from left and right too. Some stages have you hanging out of a speeding car taking fire from hoodlums in other vehicles – not only can Dick return fire, but can also duck incoming fire from cars in front of his own. Dick Tracy is a game that will certainly keep you on your toes while playing – it is definitely action packed. Bonus stages make a welcome appearance too, and take a break from the bloodshed to pit you against cardboard cutouts. Three pop up simultaneously and you most pop a cap in the cardboard asses of the bad guys while not shooting the civilians. It is not too difficult, but fun non-the-less.

Dick's journey sees him traversing such mob cliché locales as city streets, warehouses, train yards and restaurants. All look the part and have lots of destructible items to blast to pieces in the midst of a heated gunfight. The graphics are bold and colourful, making good use of the Mega Drive's palette, though as an early game for the system it doesn't push the machines capabilities at all. The game gets brutally difficult later on, with a relentless amount of enemies to face, and having to deal with two planes of action can become overwhelming at times. There are a few stages with poor design choices - such as pitch black lighting, or having to fight with no gun - that let the game down slightly, but overall it is an exciting and engaging title to play. It certainly isn't as good as Shinobi or the Rolling Thunder series, but if those titles float your boat then I recommend you give Dick a chance (sorry, I couldn't resist that one). 

Title : Dick Tracy

Developer : Sega

Year : 1990

System : Mega Drive / Genesis

Also Play:




Arcade / Various

Rolling Thunder 1, 2 & 3


1986 / 1990 / 1993

Arcade / Various

Sunset Riders



Arcade / SNES / Megadrive 

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