Dick Tracy for Game Boy is Realtime Associates' sequel to their NES game of the same name. Based on the Dick Tracy franchise, the game picks up after the end of the NES game, with Big Boy breaking out of prison and plotting his revenge on Tracy. Eschewing the open world and investigation aspects of its predecessor, this game offers a simpler, more linear experience, focused on action and platforming.
The game starts some time after the Dick Tracy NES game, with The City at peace as mob kingpin Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice is locked away in the state penitentiary after Tracy got him on the hook for bank robbery. It proves short lived though, as Big Boy escapes and a crime wave is unleashed upon its streets. Determined to restore order and put Big Boy back behind bars, Tracy goes after Shoulders, the last person to visit him in prison. The detective finds Shoulders trying to dispose of a photo showing The Brow facilitating the escape, and wastes no time heading for the henchman's train yard hideout.
At the yard, he finds another photo, this time of Big Boy robbing a safe, and corners The Brow demanding some answers. The Brow claims the photos were all taken by Pruneface, who was blackmailing them. And ominously, he suggests there are more photos, some of which should worry Tracy himself. Mulling over the mobsters words, Tracy heads to the Harbor to track down the blackmailer.
Prunceface readily admits to the deed, but gives Tracy something else to think about with a photo of hitman Flattop at the Club Ritz... together with Tracy's true love Tess Trueheart. Worried, Tracy rushes to the Ritz. As he corners Flattop, the gangster gloats as Tracy sees the final photo - Big Boy posing with a captured Tess - and reveals it was all a ruse to lure him into a trap.
Now faced with with the full force of Big Boy's gang, Tracy fights his way to the drawbridge gearhouse the kingpin is holding Tess in. After a long battle, Tracy is victorious, and Big Boy breaks down in front of him, offering riches and pleading for mercy. Furious, Tracy instead sends him flying into the river. The game ends with Tess and Tracy embracing under the moonlight, and Tess suggesting the two go out for chili.
Game Boy Dick Tracy is a linear side-scrolling action platformer. Lacking the open world and investigation aspects of the NES game, it instead offers more complex level design due to the addition of vertical scrolling. It keeps the inventory system of its predecessor, but as items are far more common, resource management is rarely an issue. Other changes that contribute to a generally lower degree of difficulty include extra lives and frequent checkpoints, unlimited continues, and no penalties for shooting unarmed opponents.
A mechanic new to the game is the collection of photo pieces, heavily tied in to the game's storyline. There are 12 of them in each levels except the last, both hidden in the environment and dropped by enemies. Once Tracy has defeated the level's boss, he 2 minutes to piece them together, and can gain extra health, bonus time and additional lives depending on how many pieces are in their correct place.
Tracy starts out with 5 hearts of health and 3 lives. He can pick up items found in the open, hidden inside crates or dropped from enemies, including hearts, hand guns, tommy guns, tear gas and grenades.
The game has 5 levels, with 3 to 4 areas each. Each level has a time limit, which can be extended by picking up clock items placed throughout the game.
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