By Video_Game_King 8 Comments
Surprisingly, this isn't a direct-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie. Instead, it's an early Dreamcast-era beat-em-up....which might as well be a direct-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie. I'm not saying that simply because both genres involve a thousand punches to the face. Like any given action movie, Dynamite Cop explodes substance out the window so it can focus all its attention on the spectacle. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Yes, the "flash over substance" approach applies to the gameplay, as well. While I think there are multiple gameplay modes (what I've read hasn't been entirely clear about that), there's really only one that matters: the main story, which is all about punching. Just punch the shit and various other excrements out of everybody in the room, and move on to other rooms and repeat the process. Sometimes, you'll kick, and there may even be a grab you can only semi-reliably execute, but....well, they call it fisticuffs for a reason. Just from a purely mechanical standpoint, things don't get more complex than this. Other than weapons (IE just about every object in a level) and maybe one power-up, you're gonna be pressing the same button a whole lot in the hour it takes to complete this game. Sounds like the recipe for a shallow and repetitive game, right?
If it is, I sure as hell didn't notice, because all the absurd tasks the game throws your way do a good job masking that fact. On your journey to rescue the president's daughter from a briefcase (no, seriously; a briefcase) held by a hideous mutant thing, you'll beat up a chef for no real reason, fight a giant octopus for no real reason, and fuck up some shamans while searching for reasons to do so. As amazing as all that is, though, that's not even the best part of Dynamite Cop. No, that honor belongs to the nonchalant presentation of all this. It's hard to explain. It's almost like the game knows how ridiculous everything is, but goes out of its way not to draw attention to anything. Like it's perfectly normal to treat the president's daughter like Princess Peach, and I'm the weird one for pointing this out. Somehow, that just makes everything so much funnier than it ever would be otherwise. I believe the only exception was this one Quick Time Event that demanded me to press to the punch button and rewarded that with a kick. Then again, who said exceptions had to be a bad thing?
The animations also do a lot for the game's fun factor. It's hard to describe them as anything but wacky. There's just something very humorous and entertaining about Nicolas Cage slapping a dude in the face far more times than is ever necessary, which, now that I think about it, is a perfect way to summarize this game. Just imagine Nicolas Cage slapping the piss out of some mook for an hour, and you have the Dynamite Cop experience. Sure, it's incredibly shallow and easy to beat (I think I might have accidentally played on easy mode, because my credits only started running out near the end of the game), but do you honestly believe that thought would ever cross your mind during a shirtless fist fight with a wolf-skin wearing man?.........Exactly.
- The game's completely and utterly detached from its own ludicrous stupidity. In fact, I feel like I have to come up with a new word to describe this game: stupicrous.
As of writing this blog, I have not watched this video. But tell me: how can you see the premise of this video and NOT develop an urge to share it with others?
This was supposed to be an entirely different video game. That game? Hotel Mario. Unfortunately, severe late game difficulty issues have delayed affairs so much that I've been forced to put it off to the side for now in favor of a game that doesn't expect the impossible out of me. That game?
Hotel Mario Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers. Out of left field, huh? Yes, but that's the entire spirit of this blog: find games nobody has ever heard of and highlight the cool stuff everybody has missed. And that's exactly what Goin' Quackers is: a fun little platformer whose levels strike a good balance between involvement and rhythm.
Normally, this would be where I talk about the story, but since I have absolutely nothing to say about the story (Daisy gets captured, Donald has to rescue her; woo), I think we can move onto more important matters, like how great this game looks. It's hard to explain, but there's this palpable cartoony atmosphere to the levels that just brings the game to life. Everything's vibrant and well-defined, and there's a lot of visual action goin' on at any one time. Not so much that you're overwhelmed with sensory overload, mind you; just enough to harbor a playful sense of urgency. The only real complaint I have is that 3D might not have been the best choice here. It really hinders what the visuals are capable of, and not just in the "did somebody shove Wallace and Gromit in the microwave" CGI. As vivid as everything looks, you still have to deal with sharp character models and their stilted animations. Things are just awkward, and for as good as the aesthetic can be, I feel like it could've been notably stronger from a 2D perspective.
Of course, I still haven't figured out how that would work when half the levels have you running away from the screen, but just trust me on th-Hold on, I think I forgot to explain that part. Goin' Quackers is sort of two games in one: you get some side-scrolling platformy action and some Crash Bandicoot-esque platforming action. Each one only really gives you a jump and an attack button, and fortunately, that's all you really need. Who needs complexity or "parts where you aren't just holding up on the D-pad" when you have a strong sense of rhythm and flow? I don't even really know how to put it. There's just something enjoyable about jumping from event to event in this perfect chain without losing your sense of momentum. Why did you think the cartoony style works so well with this game? All that visual variety's a really good motivator for blasting through a level as quickly as possible. It's especially strong in the Crash Bandicoot stuff, although that's not to say the side-scrolling levels don't get their share of the action. Just compare a Goin' Quackers level to its Bit.Trip Runner counterpart, and this becomes clear oh so quickly. Granted, you only see it in bits and pieces in that video, so all of this may depend on just how you approach the game.
Or maybe different levels simply dictate different approaches. For every one level that has you angrily barreling through the streets of Duckburg, there's another that asks you to slow down and take your time. (These are usually the side scrolling levels, since Donald Duck turns corners with all the grace and precision of a Hennessy kegger.) This ends up working in the game's favor, oddly enough. Rather than stepping on the faster parts' feet or simply not being good, they engage your mind and reward careful gameplay, and the game's more well-balanced as a result. And then you're collecting teddy-bears and roller-skates for some reason. Have no idea what the hell that's about. There's also......no, wait, that's really it for Goin' Quackers, but do you really need much else? The different platforming flavors on display are already good enough, and at only about 20 levels long, it's no more complex than it needs to be. What more could you want out of this? Other than Donald Duck sprouting four more wings and battling Mickey on the Moon?
- Part of me says this game looks good. Part of me says it doesn't. I'm gonna leave a knife between them and see which one comes out the victor.
- Remember the ABCs of gaming: Asura's Wrath, Bit.Trip Runner, Crash Bandicoot. And Donald Duck.
- And teddy-bears. Still don't know what they're doing here.