Dick Tracy is a side-scrolling shooter developed by Sega of America based on the Dick Tracy franchise. While released around the time of the 1990 Dick Tracy movie and heavily inspired by its look and setting, the game does not follow the movie's plot, instead telling an unrelated story about Tracy tracking down a suspicious nitroglycerin shipment.
Receiving word that Big Boy's gang is up to something at the train yard, Tracy arrives just in time to see them getting on a train carrying a shipment of nitroglycerin. Concerned, he tracks the shipment to a warehouse, only to see The Brow speed away with it. The Brow leads him to Lips Manlis, who reveals Big Boy has a secret explosives factory going, using the TNT produced to take out the competition.
Hitting the streets for information on the factory, Tracy corners Shoulders who points him back to the warehouse. Tracy returns to investigate, however Big Boy's hitman Flattop awaits him there, to lure him into a trap. The trap fails, and Tracy manages to get the defeated henchman to give up his bosses' location. Now hot on Big Boy's trail, Tracy tracks him through the sewer, leading to the harbor, before a final confrontation in the nearby drawbridge gearhouse.
The game is a side-scrolling shooter with occasional light platforming. To progress to the next scene, Tracy must get to the right end, avoiding or defeating the suit-clad mobsters who constantly pop out of doorways, behind objects, or the edge of the screen, going after Tracy with fists, knives, guns or explosives. Tracy himself is armed with a revolver and a tommy gun, the former for enemies at his front or back, while the latter fires stream of bullets used to take out enemies hiding in the background. His guns have unlimited ammunition, but Tracy will punch instead of shoot if enemies enter brawling range, gaining a "punch bonus" for each enemy defeated that way.
Tracy has 4 to 8 health segments, depending on difficulty chosen, 2 lives, and 3 to 5 continue credits selectable from the options. As there are no items in the game, Tracy only regains health between scenes, but shooting gallery bonus levels between each stage allow Tracy to earn extra points and credits by hitting crooks while leaving cops and civilians unharmed. Most scenes have time limits between 3 and 4 minutes, and must be completed within that time or Tracy loses a life.
Some scenes change the rules somewhat:
- Unarmed scenes strip Tracy of his guns, usually for flimsy story reasons. Because he does not have the tommy gun, they do not feature the enemy filled extended backgrounds, instead adding a bit of verticality with ladders and paths higher up on the screen.
- Vehicle scenes are fixed scrolling survival scenarios, where Tracy hangs on the outside of a police car, dodging incoming fire and shooting back at enemy cars, trying to stay alive for a set amount of time until he reaches the destination.
- Boss scenes play much like regular ones, except the stage boss is running around in the background, constantly attacking Tracy, and the scene doesn't end until the boss's health bar is depleted.
The game consists of 6 stages, each divided into 3 scenes.
|1||A||Tracy Gets a Lead||regular|
|1||B||Steve's Train Yard||unarmed|
|1||C||The Wrong Side of the Tracks||boss: Itchy|
|2||A||Destination - 7th St. Warehouse||regular|
|2||C||A Browbeating Under the El||boss: The Brow|
|3||A||Hitting the Streets||regular|
|3||B||Racing Down First Street||vehicle|
|3||C||Drinks Are on the House||boss: Lips Manlis|
|4||A||A Hold Up in the Back Alley!||unarmed|
|4||B||Back to the Warehouse!||regular|
|4||C||An Explosive Confrontation!||boss: Pruneface|
|5||A||Searching the Warehouse||regular|
|5||B||A New Lead?||vehicle|
|5||C||Tracy Falls into a Trap!||boss: Flattop|
|6||A||After a Rat!||unarmed|
|6||B||Harboring a Fugitive!||regular|
|6||C||Showdown at the Gearhouse!||boss: Big Boy|