Dick Tracy – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Developer: Realtime Associates
Release Date: August 1, 1990
Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Reviewed by bbpower
Are you looking for a quality NES challenge? Put on your yellow trench coat and matching hat, grab your Tommy gun, and head to the office. Dick Tracy will not only test your gaming abilities, but your wits as well. For those who do not know Dick Tracy, he’s a detective and hot on the case in this hard-to-crack game. There are notorious gangsters to chase and plenty of shooting. You may need a writing utensil and paper to help you keep this game straight! The object of the game is to solve three cases in a timely manner before this game is considered beaten. No time to stop for a doughnut in this one! Get to work, gumshoe.
Dick Tracy is a side-scrolling, platforming, semi-open world game. There are addresses scattered about the city where players must stop into to find information and people. One of the neat parts of this game is that players have freedom to roam around the city and go wherever they like, but there is a path to follow to crack cases on time to be rewarded.
Detective Tracy starts off at the office, where a villain known as Big Boy Caprice has escape from prison and kidnapped Tess, Tracy’s love interest. Players must drive around the city and visit addresses to search for clues. Each stop will have mobsters to fight and a “usual suspect” at the end to fight, arrest, or question. The side-scrolling levels are simple yet tough, so players will have to be on guard and on the search for clues and items.
Clue Icons will appear when Tracy is at the right location. You can go to the wrong address and fight your way though the level only to find nothing, or an irrelevant suspect. Also, you can even make wrong arrests! The clue icon found, which are photographs, will lead to the next “usual suspect” you need to hunt down. Piece the photographs together to get the person behind the crime.
There are fifteen different “usual suspects” players must track down. My favorite is Breathless Mahoney. She is a wicked dame and has no respect for the law. However, there are other notorious gangsters such as Flattop, Lips Manlis, Stooge Viller, and Steve the Tramp who Tracy will have to hunt down to interrogate. Each one of these head honchos are guarded by dozens of enemies, which look a lot like Dick Tracy actually…
To fight off these cronies, Tracy is equipped with not only his fists, but a Tommy gun, grenades, and tear gas. Ammo is not infinite, so players much shoot accurately. The controls are very simple and have eight-way aiming. Jump with the A button, and shoot with B. The down button will allow Dick to duck for cover. Enemies have guns, explosives, and will punch as well.
Also, while driving around, there are mobsters stationed on the rough parts of town to shoot Tracy’s police car, so be careful. These stationed gunners are a pain in the ass and are sure to get you a time or two. It is very easy to die and lives are incredibly hard to earn. You must solve certain parts of the puzzle to gain extra hit points and lives in a timely manner. Tracy is on the clock, just like real life!
Players will also lose life for shooting unarmed innocent people. When you run out of life, you die and a continue must be used. When you are out of continues, it’s back to the beginning, no matter how far into the game you made it. There are no save points, but there is something similar that makes this game not feel so long and frustrating.
When a case is cracked, players will get a code so they can start the game at that spot. It’s the best alternate to a save system the game has. However, when the code is entered, Tracy will start with the default items and you lose the extra arsenals found throughout the levels prior to powering down or dying. Acquiring these codes is the best way to play this game, so it can be handled in doses. You will die… a lot. So, have patience, gamers, justice will prevail.
I think this game is very challenging… almost too much. With lives hard to earn and limited continues, getting far into this game is no easy task. I am still working on beating this game, but for a decade now I have never grown tired of playing it. Every time I fire it up, Dick Tracy is still somewhat new to me. I am sure the game can be easily beaten when players follow a guide, but I refuse to do as such and you should too. A game this challenging deserves to be played straight with no help from the Internet, or guides. Come on, you can do it!
I love the two settings of this game. The overhead driving around view gives a minor glimpse into the future of how the first two Grand Theft Auto games were for the Sony Playstation. Also, having to find the places and people makes the adventure seem as real as possible. Cracking a case is hard work and I think this game caters to realism well. One of my few knocks on this fun game is the enemies look too similar to Dick Tracy himself. I know gangsters all dressed the same back then, but I think it was a little bit of laziness on the developer’s part to add diversity in the skins.
May people think this game is based upon the 1990 motion picture Dick Tracy. Well, it’s actually originally based upon the 1931 comic strip, which was first seen in the Detroit Mirror. I bought this game for a dollar at a garage sale back in 2005 and it was a phenomenal purchase. Looking more into the development side of the game, I asked myself, is this game highly collectible? No. Does it have the best graphics? No. Will it sweep you away with cool features? Not really. It does however have awesome characters, fun cases, good music, and will test any vintage gamer’s abilities. I have ran across very few glitches in the game and think it was made well for 1990. It will keep you coming back for more for a long time. Also, the opening credits of Dick Tracy being machine gunned into the brick is pretty cool.
With all factors weighed, Dick Tracy earned a Nerd Bacon 6.5 out of 10. The game could have been made a little easier, but life as a detective in the big city in the 30’s was no cakewalk, so it translates well into this title. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt to throw some extra lives in there more often, or an extra continue. However, with all criticism aside, any vintage gamer should play, or own this game. It will keep you busy for hours and will cost you less than a foot long sub for most clean copies. So, load up your gun and yellow trench coat up! You have a case to solve and when you are done, watch the movie for kicks. Beat this game straight up and I give you some props. Game on!
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