Dateline : 1st November 2011


Wandering through the criminal underground armed only with a dodgy looking yellow mac and Madonna for company, RetroBear tackles the more seedy people in society as he takes the role of Dick Tracy. Will he be a hard Dick or a limp Dick ? Only one way to find out…..


How many Dick jokes will this review contain ?

There have been many great detectives over the years : Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy (OK well that last one is pushing it a bit but he didn’t just deal in antiques you know), but Dick Tracy is a name that probably wouldn’t make it into most people’s Top 10. Largely confined to American comic strips and animated TV series, the first real wind we got of Dick Tracy was in the blockbuster film of the same name starring Warren Beatty, Al Pacino and Madonna.


Having actually seen the film on it’s original release I was really impressed with the visuals, sticking closely to the comic book’s use of just a few colours and wacky gangster types. If you throw in Madonna singing songs about being spanked then that is pretty much all a 15 year old needs to be happy regardless of whether the film is any good or not.


As usual a big film means a film tie in licence and Dick Tracy was everywhere that summer. He also made his way to the Master System, Mega Drive and NES in loosely based adaptations of the film. The NES version has often been described as one of the worst examples of film cash ins, and as good as the Master System version was I have decided to dig out the Mega Drive version for a playtest.


4 dicks all in a row - dick jokes aside these are pretty impressive graphics for the Mega Drive


Dick Tracy was one of the first games I saw advertised for the Mega Drive and visuals today still look remarkably good ; bright colours, well drawn and animated sprites and the sparse range of colours that were prominent in the film are very pleasing on the eye. Sadly the music isn’t as good perhaps as it should have been, especially when you consider the Moonwalker game released around the same time had some great renditions of Michael Jackson songs in it.


The game (the bits I played anyway) is a side-scrolling beat/shoot em up with Dick facing an onslaught of anonymous gangsters, some with guns some not. Get close enough and you can punch the goons heading towards you whereas a simple shot with your pistol will send them packing from a distance away. Along with the pistol and your fists you also have a machine gun which takes out bad guys in the distance which when you look at the game is the other side of the road. It’s a nice touch as it adds some depth to simply walking along shooting bad guys (i.e. any version of Robocop that you might have played)


Dick Tracy does come with a reputation – it’s bloomin’ tough. After around 90 minutes worth of playing time I had managed to progress to the third section of the first level and came within inches of defeating the end of level boss. Now that might sound pretty lame, but it is a hard game and that’s why when it first came out reviewers loved the look and feel of the game, but marked it down for it’s toughness. You would need to be a better than average player to get the most from this title. Having said that you do find yourself getting a bit further each time and I actually went through the second stage on my first go. It did take me nearly 10 tries to get off the first section though.


I really like the controls on this game - the third fire button allows you to shoot across the street


VERDICT : As you’d expect with any law enforcement agent, Dick Tracy is solid, strong and a tough nut to crack. Put the time in and you’ll be rewarded but the frustration may be a bit too much for some gamers.


NOTES : Loose copies start from a shade under £3.00 on Amazon and you’ll be able to get a complete version for under £10.00 there as well (01.11.11). Over at Ebay prices are a lot lower so this is one that will be easy to fit into your collection on a budget.


NEXT UP : We stay with the Mega Drive for one of my favourites – Captain America & The Avengers