Review Information
Reviewer Name: metrotitan
Reviewer Email: aarnold@mtb.com
Game Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Options: True
Game Information
Full Title: Dick Tracy
Year Released: 1990
Game Type: Platform
Max Players: 1
Introduction


I have always wanted this game for the Genesis, so when I saw it at my local flea market for the SMS, I had to grab it. The colorful box art kind of called out to me, as did the fact that it was a game I haven't seen very often. Having never played the Genesis version, I can't compare the two. My impressions below are of the Master System version on a stand-alone basis.
Gameplay
Gameplay takes place on two fronts. You're dealing with enemies that come from either side of the screen (like any other game of this type), and also shooting enemies that pop up in the background (think of it as a quasi-3D feature). Overall, its a basic game, but it does what it sets out to do fairly well. You will dispatch of most enemies using your gun (regular or tommygun), but you can also punch (which increases your score via a bonus at the end of levels based on how many enemies you kill this way). There are only 2 levels that require to punch (i.e. your gun is taken away);1-2 and 6-2. A few levels have you hanging on the side of the car, with cars approaching in front, from behind and in the background. These generally control fine, with Dick able to shoot forward, backward and into the background just like normal levels. You can duck, although this does little good (can't duck under bullets). You can also jump, which is the only real way to avoid bullets. Some of the later car stages are also very cheap (discussed under replay below). Bonus stages are also present, and feature a "shooting gallery" type game with a view from behind Dick. Two cardboard dummies/targets pop up, and you have to quickly decide which to shoot (gangsters) and which not to (policemen, firemen, etc.). The further you get into the game, the more quickly these bonus stages move. Overall, they're pretty easy, and are a good way to earn extra credit/continues. The end of level bosses appear in the background, and force you to dodge their fire (and enemies coming from both sides) while shooting them in the background. Most are fairly easy, but it can take a few tries to beat the later ones.
Graphics
Good for the SMS, but not great. Backgrounds/level themes tend to repeat, but the few that are there look pretty good. Animation is minimal, and the bosses look pretty much just like the regular gangsters, but overall its probably above-average. The comic book style interludes are plain, and just show Dick's silhouette in the trademark yellow coat talking into a watch. Just look at the sample pics below.....they speak for themselves. One nice feature is that your tommygun does damage to many of the background items (cars, windows, etc.). Its not anything breathtaking, but its a nice touch.
Sound & Music
What can I say? They are pretty typical for the SMS. The music is decent, but I have no idea if its from the actual Dick Tracy movie or anything. The sound effects are your typical bleeps and bloops. Nothing sexy, but what did you expect.
Controls
Controls are generally decent, but very limited in scope ('ol Dick can't do too much). You run, jump (with button II) and duck, and can fire your gun (with button I). The lack of a third button forced Sega to map the "background" tommy gun shooting to button I (shared function with your regular shooting), and has you holding up on the control pad along with button I. Other than the "target/cursor" moving rather slowly, it works fairly well. Using the same button for both regular and background shooting may actually make things easier (shifting between the two doesn't require that you move to a new button). The two control problems I'd note are: (1) the ducking mechanic tends to stick......sometimes you want to stand up, but Dick stays crouching unless you take your thumb COMPLETELY off the control pad. (2) Although not required too often, jumping can be a bitch. This is particularly true in level 6-2, where enemies charge you during a series of difficult jumps and often push you into the water (if you ever get there, you'll know what I mean).
Replay Value
Scores
Gameplay
Graphics
Music & Sound
Controls
Replay Value
After you go through it once, there's not a ton to go back to this game for. The limited amount of gameplay variety (despite efforts to spice things up with the background shooting and bonus stages) makes the game feel quite repetitive after a few plays. There are two difficulty settings, but you'd have to be a diehard fan to want to finish it twice (largely because of level 6-2).
Conclusion
Two frustrating aspects of the game hinder replay value further (and may prevent many from finishing the game). The uber-cheap jumping issue previously noted in 6-2, and the later car stages (where the enemies coming from the front/rear of the screen fire their guns -- sometimes more than once) before you can even hit them. These can't be avoided by ducking.....only with a perfectly timed jump. I don't mind a challenge, but it should be because the game throws a lot at you....not because it basically forces you to take hits. In summary, you probably don't need this if you already have a gaggle of other SMS side-scrolling shooters (E-Swat, Zillion II, Terminator, etc.). You definitely don't need it if you have the Genesis version (though I've never played it, from what I've seen it looks nearly identical but with much better visuals). With limited expectations, however (and if you pay a limited price), its not all that bad.
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