Retro Review: Dick Tracy
Platform: Sega Megadrive
I remember seeing Dick Tracy at the cinema when I was younger. I didn’t really know who Warren Beatty or Al Pacino was as I was probably about 14 years old, but what I do remember is that Dick Tracy was one of the big blockbuster movies of 1990. Dick Tracy has always been more of an American icon rather than a British one, but one of my abiding memories is Madonna’s sultry turn as Breathless Mahoney.
From what I recall I thought the movie was ok but I had no great desire to play a video game based on the film. It was only until I did some work experience at Software City in Wolverhampton that I first saw Dick Tracy running on the Megadrive. There was a Megadrive demo unit in the corner of the shop and I seem to remember being drawn to the particular style of gameplay and it’s bright colours.
The main difference with Dick Tracy and the other games I mention is that as well as firing a pistol, you have a Tommy gun which can be fired into the background. So not only are enemies attacking you from left to right, they are running in the background shooting at you as well. This adds an extra dimension to the action meaning you have to keep an eye on things at all times. You can also destroy windows, fire hydrants and streetlights with your tommy gun, which leads to an almost obsessive feeling of wanting to destroy every destructible object before you progress.
The controls for Dick Tracy are quite simple with one button to jump, one to fire left and right or punch, and one to shoot your tommy gun. There are levels where you don’t have your pistol or tommy gun and are forced to punch the enemies as they approach you, dodging bullets and bombs. There is also a rather nice section where you are holding onto the side of a police car shooting enemies in front and behind you whilst jumping over and ducking oncoming bullets.
Like the movie, the graphics are bright and colourful and there are some nice animations, particularly when Tracy dies and you see his hat floating to the floor. The enemies wear different coloured suits to identify what type of attack they do. There are also some detailed stills setting up each level.
The sound and music are fine with some decent sound effects particularly when you smash windows or fire your pistol. The music does its best to sound like its from the movie.
Each level leads you to fight a boss character from the movie such as Itchy, The Brow or Lips Manlis. There is also an excellent bonus stage where you have a shooting gallery using the corresponding buttons on the controller to shoot enemies but also avoid civilians that pop up.
Graphics – Bright and colourful with some good animation. 7
Sound – Decent sound effects with music which suits the setting. 6
Playability – The game plays very well indeed with simple controls, yet the tommy gun adds an extra element to the gameplay. 7
Re-Playability – Still a good game to play, but can get a little repetitive after extended play. 6
Overall – Dick Tracy manages to be a decent movie tie in with graphics, sound and gameplay being above average. Worth a look. 7
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and ‘The Same Coin‘)