Sunday 19 July 2015

Scrapyard Dog (Atari Lynx review)

Developer: Creative Software Designs
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1991

Scrapyard Dog is a platformer that was also released on the Atari 7800 with slightly different gameplay mechanics.

It consists of seven worlds (with five levels in each) and your job is to rescue your kidnapped dog. You can't jump on enemies and instead your main weapon is cans that you throw. There are numerous items you can buy from the shops including extra lives and weapons like the Tri-Laser that fires three beams. However, these shops are hidden and you need to duck or knock on the scenery to locate them. This is a ridiculous idea and it forces you to aimlessly wander the entire level. The first two worlds are decent and see you travelling through a Junkyard and a City. The latter has multiple planes so you can choose different routes through the levels. By the third world (Forest) the level design begins to falter and the gameplay winds up involving too much trial and error. The collision detection is spotty at best and it leads to many frustrating moments. My main issue with the game though is that you can only buy one item in each shop and that item is decided by the shop keeper. In later levels you'll be desperate for extra lives but the seller might only offer you a shield. It's a long game and without any continues you're forced to slowly crawl your way forward through memorisation. There are a few interesting levels including a battle in the sewers where you take charge of a machine that shoots bullets and a Forest level where you ride a giant bird that fires from its beak. The controls are sluggish though and it's difficult to make quick second decisions. Each world has a boss but they're actually the easiest part of the game and pose little challenge. The graphics are okay but sometimes it's tricky to determine what's a platform and what is part of the background.

Scrapyard Dog starts off promising but it has some serious flaws and odd gameplay decisions that ruin much of the enjoyment. It ends up being more of a grind in the long run and most players will probably give up in frustration before seeing the later levels.

Random trivia: The Atari 7800 version was released in the same year but it has an alternate level design and gives you the ability to jump on enemies heads to kill them.

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