Monday, 9 January 2017

Chapter XXXVIII: Dick Tracy

How many times I’ve written about how lucky we were for playing pirated games. We got to watch lovely cracker intro screens and had the opportunity to have much more games than our financial means allowed. I know this is a very politically incorrect thing to say, but there’s something more to it to balance things out. Many of these pirated games were bugged.

I suppose most people reading this blog experienced that feeling. You’re playing a brand new game, you’re loving it, you’re nailing it and eventually beat that annoying boss only to….White to black screen! Guru Meditation!. Yes, we all are very nostalgic about that screen, I even used it for this blog logo, but that’s only part of the therapy to heal all the wounds that we still have open because of it.

I mostly remember two games where this happened, but I know there were many more. Elf and Dick Tracy. My heart said that I should play Elf, because I’m sure it’s the better game. The problem is, I’m not sure if these geriatric hands can get to the level that the game used to crash because I remember it being very hard. So, my head says Dick Tracy.

Dick Tracy might be easier, because we run into the bug right in the day the game was bought. And then someone had to try to emulate the crash in the store so we could get a refund of have the option of choosing another game. Roy Drought was the chosen one for the task since he was the better player for this kind of game, but he couldn’t take the pressure and played as crap as any of us. Eventually the owner was fed up and let us chose another game, since he was an adult and had more important stuff to do.

I don’t know what was the game chosen as a replacement, but I do know that I never had the opportunity to play Dick Tracy, since I was the younger one of my cousin Walter’s group of friends thus meaning that I usually played last. With the bug detected, we all immediately went to the store. Let’s see now if this game is worth the fuss of having the honour of being written about. Not that it means much nowadays.

The beginning is promising, as the game starts with someone, probably some fat mobster, getting a bucket of semen being dropped on the head. The game says it’s cement, but I’m an Engineer and I know what i’m talking about when I say that’s something else. Yes, semen. Ok, let’s move on. I had to fill the dick-joke quota for this article.

This was probably a misunderstood piece of installation art
This game is fast, and not in a good way. It’s fast as in “Let me reach for the turbo button in my computer case because something is wrong and I think I’m still in ‘97” way. Mr. Dick, as he will be called from now on, moves as if he’s on amphetamines, which isn’t much of a good idea when he’s supposed to be fighting the mafia, which kind of explains my terrible runs in my first few tries. I can only imagine the pressure little Roy Drought felt back when he had to reach the second level while many eyes or focused on him, or at least focused on the screen.

The gameplay reminds me a lot of Robocop, but the fact that the drug of choice of Mr. Dick isn’t steroids, the pace makes a lot of difference. The graphics are more pleasant, with bigger sprites, and a better choice of colour palette. It’s not a technical marvel, and it kind of looks like an Atari ST port, but for a game released in 1990, it’s fine, and it’s not the reason why this game isn’t very good. Yes, I know this is getting a bit worrisome, covering so many games that I’m end up not liking. I suppose it shows how good a person I am for destroying my childhood memories for your reading pleasure. At least I’ll always have Rodland.

The mobster was so bored he began to pole dance in the middle of the shooting
I get the impression that nobody even tested the game before releasing it because it’s almost unplayable. The control system is that one used in many lesser games, which consists of holding fire and then pressing a direction, and if you think this is because there’s a deep control system, you’re wrong. This is no Budokan, and comparing this to Robocop makes me realize that steroids probably aren’t that bad for your health. The game is just way too fast, and enemies respawn on all the time, so it seems the best strategy is just to press on while mowing every enemy that isn’t ducking, which is a bit hard, since these mobsters love to duck, and our character can’t fire while standing down. And if it’s very possible for Mr. Dick to get stuck in an infinite loop of hit-collision and which means an even quicker game over.

How I feel everytime I play this game
Eventually I reached the door of the Ritz Club, which I suspect it’s where the boss resides. First time I couldn’t enter because bullets were coming uninterruptedly out of the door, which is kind of a weird way to greet guests of the establishment, because I don’t think they knew it was Mr. Dick knocking on their door. Some tries later I finally got to the boss, and I didn’t last a second. I really hate this game, and maybe all the things I wrote before were false memories and this was all a scheme done by Walter the Baptist to return this terrible, cursed disk. If it wasn’t a scheme, I can only admire whoever got to the second level, which was probably Roy.

As for the other technical aspects, I can say that the music isn’t terrible, which taking into consideration the overall quality of the product it’s quite a feat. There are also some nice and competent intro and game over screens that would contribute for an extra 1% if I was scoring the game. The sound effects on the other hand are pretty dire, but I doubt anyone is paying attention to that since every game likely lasts about one minute at most, which probably sounds like the experience is very invigorating and full of adrenaline. Well, it isn’t. It left me anxious and eager to get some nice warm tea, while listening to Morgan Freeman reading me a book. Since I never even got to the second level, I should have played Elf instead.

This kid will most certainly die on his first screen

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