Friday 30 December 2016

Dick Tracy (Amstrad GX4000 review)

Developer: Touchstone
Publisher: Titus
Released: 1991

Dick Tracy is an action game that was also released on the Amstrad CPC (1990).

There's six stages and your mission is to investigate the disappearance of Lips Manlis, an underworld boss and owner of The Ritz nightclub. Your primary attack is a punch, but ammo can be picked up for either a Pistol or Machine Gun. The gameplay involves walking from left-to-right mowing down enemies but a few strange bugs are present; for instance, you can't be shot while crouching, making the otherwise tough window snipers a breeze! Likewise, you can use the same tactic on incoming enemies as they'll walk straight past you when you're kneeling. The easiest way to succeed is to slowly inch your way forward; armed foes are clearly visible from a distance but they all seem to be short-sighted, leaving you free to attack from range! Despite the game's shortcomings there's something delightfully dumb about it; learning enemy patterns and executing your attacks is strangely enjoyable, mainly down to the precise timing and weapon management that's required. The latter is one of the best mechanics as the lack of ammo forces you to think about how you're going to tackle what lies ahead. I also like the shift in level design towards the end of the game; the brilliant Level 4 takes place on the rooftops and requires tricky jumps and care to avoid being shot off a building. Likewise, Level 5 has enemies that appear on different platform levels where you need to jump and fire to attack. The bosses are a let-down though as they all stand motionless and can easily be defeated with a quick barrage of gunfire. Compared to the CPC version, this port has better graphics and animation, smooth scrolling and the choice of either music or SFX.
Dick Tracy isn't anything to write home about but it does feature some fun arcade-like action and plenty of twitch-based gameplay. Undoubtedly it has some flaws (or mainly in this case, quirks!) but if you can look past them there's a mildly enjoyable game here that's great for a quick 15 minute play-through.
Random trivia: The game has the worst ending ever as it refuses to recognise your accomplishments and immediately dumps you back to Level 1 instead!

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