Thursday 5 January 2017

Dick Tracy (Amstrad CPC review)

Developer: Titus
Publisher: Titus
Released: 1990

Dick Tracy is an action game that was re-released on the Amstrad GX4000 in 1991 with various enhancements.

There's five 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 collected for either a Pistol or Machine Gun. Unfortunately, the gameplay features a few strange bugs, namely that you can't be shot while crouching, which makes the otherwise tough window snipers a breeze! Likewise, you can use the same tactic on incoming enemies as they'll happily walk past you when you're kneeling. The frame-rate is all over the place and sometimes you can't hit an incoming enemy if your sprite overlaps with an already downed opponent! Instead of the smooth scrolling on the GX4000 port, this version flicks between screens once you reach the right-hand edge; while this is understandable given the hardware limitations it does present some problems. Firstly, when entering a new screen you'll frequently be shot before you even have chance to react. Similarly, during Stage 4's rooftop platforming the poor level design means you can straight fall off a building edge as soon as the screen flicks! As a result, you have to jump before the previous screen ends and if you're not pixel perfect you'll immediately be shot and slide backwards to your death. The worst bug occurs in the same stage, as halfway through the jump button becomes unreliable and it's pot-luck as to whether you actually leap over a gap or accidentally walk over the edge. At the end of each stage is a boss battle, but they all stand motionless and can easily be defeated with a quick barrage of gunfire. On a positive note, this version does have an ending screen which is lacking in the GX4000 port.
Dick Tracy has various technical problems, ranging from glitches that reduce the gameplay challenge and bizarre bugs that cause ample cheap deaths. My advice is to pick up the GX4000 version instead, as despite some similar flaws it has numerous refinements that make it a much more enjoyable game.
Random trivia: Perhaps the most well-known Amstrad CPC games from Titus are Crazy Cars (1988), Prehistorik (1991) and Titus the Fox (1992).

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