If there’s one lazy generalisation people make about old videogames, it’s that games based on films were generally quite bad. Though this wasn’t necessarily the case, there do inevitably have to be some stinkers in the cinematic videogame pile. Sadly, the interactive adaption of Dick Tracy proved to be just that.
Less Run’n’Gun and more walk’n’shoot, Dick Tracy deploys the kind of slow, deliberate gunplay game mechanics perfected by the likes of RoboCop and E-Swat. Despite having such illustrious peers to mimic, however, the other 8-bit versions of Dick Tracy suffered for being rushed to meet the release of the ill-fated motion picture and ended up as hideously unfinished and bug-ridden messes as a result.
Surprisingly then, Dick Tracy is another title where the GX-4000 version is actually top dog. Is it another hollow victory?
Developed once again by Titus, Dick Tracy is certainly a game that wears its’ influences on its’ sleeve. Tasked with strolling from the left side of the screen to the right, it’s your job to blast anyone who appears – being especially careful to watch for enemies who periodically pop out from the open windows above. Stop me if you’ve played this one before.
Fortunately for Dick, the game has a couple of tricks up its sleeve to make things a little more entertaining. Alongside his standard pistol – the kind that fires slow moving globules across the screen – Tracy is also able to grab the Tommy Guns wielded by fallen foes. Aside from being fully automatic, these guns are loaded with invisible bullets that spell instant doom for whoever they’re used against (be it Dick Tracy or one of his opponents.) Hurrah!
Success or failure is generally a question of how well you manage the ammunition supply of these two different weapons. Though Tracy is armed with a firm and surprisingly satisfying fist-thump, realistically you’re not going to be able to get close enough to the machine gunners to give them a good boshing – so it’s quite possible to get pinned down with literally no way to progress. Consequently, Dick Tracy soon unravels into the the sort of resource management game that extracts the worst ammunition hoarder from the best of us.
Aside from this, Dick Tracy is sadly quite unremarkable. Like Crazy Cars II, the player is forced to choose between either music or sound effects, but neither of these options feels especially noteworthy or interesting. The difficulty might seem pretty harsh (you have just the one life) but to be honest it’s no more harsh than a great deal of other games released on the ZX Spectrum and CPC.
Indeed, though the game definitely gets the player sprite right and has a pretty good punch animation, there’s really little to differentiate Dick tracy from many other similar titles in the looks department either. True, it’s a much better looker than the Atari 2400-style C64 affair, but considering that the Gx4000 version was specially redrawn in order to take advantage of the console’s hardware, it’s still mildly disappointing.
Consequently then, by raising above the horror of the other versions of Dick Tracy, the GX4000 version gets somewhat lost in the ether. Though is no longer stands out for all of the wrong reasons, it fails to stand out for any of the right ones either. Today, the only really remarkable feature of the game is the price it demands on eBay.