Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Game Review: Dick Tracy (Commodore 64)

Developed and published by Titus Software in 1990

Back when I started doing longplay videos, I knew I was going to start with the venerable Commodore 64. It's library of software was enormous and I owned a great many games during it's lifespan, but I had no idea which game to choose when starting out.

I could have picked from any of the critically acclaimed jewels in the C64's crown, but the first thought that leapt into my mind was to start with one that was so abysmal that anyone who played it would remember the experience for decades to come.
At the time of recording I knew nothing about codecs, cropping videos and I didn't even bother to write these reviews; something I'm keen to correct with this new video.

Released in 1990 to coincide with the much-anticipated film, the game was universally savaged by the gaming press upon it's release. Unfortunately, I'd received a copy before the magazines went to press and, with no Internet back then, I'd have been none the wiser.

The first things that you'll notice are the graphics and animation, both of which are terrible. Dick Tracy sports the kind of pixels that would have made a game from 1985 look good, and the character sprite animation is so uncoordinated as to be a total joke. Tracy himself semi-shuffles, half dances his way spasmodically across the screen, especially when holding a weapon and looks absolutely ridiculous. The developers seem to have chosen colours that deliberately obscure the sprites from view, stage two being a classic example where Tracy vanishes against the custard-yellow walls of the diner.

The next thing you'll notice is just how broken the game is. From the moment the game starts, you'll notice bizarre occurrences such as bullets passing through enemies, only to kill another enemy behind it. On certain occasions, firing a bullet to the right of the screen will result in the death of an enemy that has entered from the left; madness!

My personal favourite remains Dick Tracy's punch. He merely has to stick his fist out and wait for the enemy to walk into it to defeat them. Of course, as with many things in the game, the sprite collision detection fails for no reason and an enemy will walk through the fist and kill you. That's right kids, you only get one life and three continues to finish this crap-tastic pile of rubbish!

The objective on each level is simply to keep moving right, progressing through six or seven screens until you reach the final location. The game suddenly switches to two coppers cuffing one of Big Boy Caprice's gang members and carting them off to jail, although you really wouldn't know when looking at the graphics.

Tracy gets access to a revolver and a Thompson machine gun in later levels, but this is never advertised to the player. Pressing the carriage return key will swap between available weapons, but this is never made clear.

The game doesn't take long to beat and there's absolutely no reason to play it again, not that you'd want to. In fact, after editing out the loading screens the entire game only took me eight minutes to complete.

The one saving grace that the game has is some reasonable music by Markus Schneider, but the rest of the game is too terrible for this to redeem it in any way.

The game retailed at £10.99 on cassette and was criminally overpriced for what it was. There were many budget games that demonstrated better graphics, sound and gameplay for a fraction of the value and I pity anyone unfortunate enough to have purchased the game. Even on budget, this would have been a total dud.

So there we have it - a new HD recording and review of this ignominious pile of garbage. Now I never have to play it again...ever!

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