The Incredible Crash Dummies – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Software Creations
Release Date (NA): 1993
Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10
406,700. Remember that number.
That, my friends, is my final score after beating this game!
Phew! I need a moment.
What’s the big deal? Oh yeah, you probably don’t know my history with this game.
I first rented The Incredible Crash Dummies for NES about 20 years ago. And for the last 15 years I have made several earnest yet unsuccessful attempts at victory. Tonight (the night I pen this article – who knows how long until it’s actually published) marks the occasion I finally put this game to bed.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the review…
Hello everyone! Good to see you again.
“Another The Incredible Crash Dummies review, you say?”
“You must really like this franchise, huh.”
Of course I do! They’re my favorite toys of all time. But are they my favorite games of all time?
Hell no! What in the Holy Mother of God is wrong with you?
I like them, but they’re certainly not my favorites. They’re good casual games. And the NES release is unique from all the other ports of The Incredible Crash Dummies, so I think it’s fair I take a stab at reviewing this one.
Personal bias and nostalgia would group this in with a much higher echelon of games than it deserves, so it’s time to set aside all my fond memories and observe this subject from a distance, bringing you a fair review.
My overall impression during this run (after completely sterilizing my point of view) is that this is an okay platformer you may enjoy if you’re like me and get a kick out of any old simple platforming game; however, The Incredible Crash Dummies for NES doesn’t offer much to make it stand out from any other regular Joe Nintendo.
One thing that never really crossed my mind as I was eyeball-deep in dummy fandom is this game really looks kind of terrible. The sprites are poorly and lazily designed to a point where it’s almost insulting. And did I mention this came out merely two years before the Nintendo’s seminal console retired? You’d think by now LJN would have…oh…
Yeah, it’s published by LJN (though I’ve said it before: I do enjoy some of their games). But really, what do you want? It’s a cash-in game released by a chump of a publisher based on a toy line about to meet its untimely end by the hands of angry parents everywhere. All this is reflected in the simple, hasty, uncaring look of the game. Maybe if it was released in 1987 I could cut them some slack, but at this stage in the NES’s life cycle I expect better. (Say, speaking of which, that Mega Man sure hasn’t aged one iota in six years. I guess we’ll have to see what happens in Mega Man 7)
The humor in the NES version of The Incredible Crash Dummies is a little more childish. While the Genesis/SNES game has a hokey kind of charm to its terrible humor, this is the kid who laughs at his own awful jokes. We are still graced with those wonderful dummy puns (a staple of the franchise at this point), but the writing is so weak it hurts. I +mean, it’s not like the writing in the other was of a Hemingway caliber or anything, but this is just stale and…bad.
Yeah, I’m no Hemingway either.
After delivering one of these silly puns, often what follows is “Get it? Pretty funny huh?” It’s the kind of thing that makes you a little embarrassed to admit you’re still playing this childish schlock at 26.
The gameplay is standard – pretty much as I said before. There are a few points to highlight, but otherwise it plays like a competent yet unimpressive platformer.
Your default weapon appears to be some sort of ring packed with stun gas. Why? I dunno.
You can also equip an oil…thing? Projectile? It’s a projectile alright, but I don’t understand how it’s supposed to be oil. It’s just a little pellet capable of destroying enemies. You’re limited to 99 shots, but oil canister refills are not in short supply.
Your third weapon is the most interesting of the bunch. It’s a…well, more of a power up. When you collect and use the limb icon, your dummy grabs his legs and puts them in his arm sockets. He spins around, destroying everything in his way. Really, it’s no different from any other video game’s invincibility power…it’s just neat to watch.
The variety of weapons is limited, but having a stun as your default is not too common. Nothing earth-shatteringly different, but I do appreciate any deviation from the norm; even if it is only by a quarter of an inch.
Some enemies will send you hurtling backwards in a twirling frenzy until you either hit a wall or go far enough back, at which point you explode. This is fun to watch; it’s the way any dummy should meet his demise. Though at a certain point when you’re trying to make forward progress, you will begin to appreciate the less dramatic way you receive damage.
You can lose your head in Nintendo’s The Incredible Crash Dummies.
No, literally, you can lose your head.
If you are hit with a bomb, punched into a ceiling, or strike an overhead platform while traveling at mach speeds – courtesy of the rocket icon (avoid the rocket at ALL costs!) – your head will go flying and controls will be reversed. While you have to appreciate the developers’ creativity here, it’s a tad annoying. You will, however, get used to it pretty easily, so it shouldn’t trip you up too much. And recovering your head is usually quick and painless: just find a unit of health, which is, of course, a dummy head, and you’re golden.
The enemies and stages, like everything else, make no sense. This is the work of hasty developers who don’t bother treating the subject with any respect or attention to accuracy. I mean, okay, you have some Junkbots, I guess? And the Crash Test Center and Junkyard too. But then you’ve got the circus? A sewer? The dock? And to top it off, lazy and unimaginative enemies like rats, floating bombs, a beach ball, and so on. Boring.
The Incredible Crash Dummies is infected with the syndrome some games have where you can’t always see a platform below you. If you duck, the camera will not scroll down to reveal what is off screen. It’s certainly unfair, but in my experience it didn’t really work against me aside from one instance towards the end where the programmers actually take advantage of this poor design and lead you to your death with a dummy head/health unit. Just fair warning to you: once you’ve reached 5-1…if you see a dummy head floating and cannot tell where it leads, do not fall for their sinister trap!
One thing I feel I really should give this game credit for is controls. Each level alternates between dummies – first with Slick, then with Spin. Spin travels on foot while Slick rides a unicycle (let’s just give up on making sense of any of this, alright?). Given the differing modes of transportation, their handling is unique from each other. The controls for Spin and Slick are decent (some may argue they’re bad, though I think they’re workable), but what really stands out is the physics. The differences between the dummies are represented quite well, and Slick especially stands out with his unicycle. You can really feel him gliding along, stopping with the same loss of momentum you’d expect in such a situation. He even has a slight bounce when he returns to the ground from a jump. And collecting the balloon will temporarily make him nice and floaty.
It’s tough for me to comment on difficulty. Obviously from the introduction you know how long it has taken me to master The Incredible Crash Dummies for NES. But to be honest, I found this last run (and the one before), to be somewhat effortless. My gut tells me it’s easier than I realized and I’m just not very good, but I don’t know. I’m throwing in the towel on this one. You’ll just have to play it for yourself if you really want to know how hard it is.
I will admit, the final boss is a challenge initially, but once you figure out the pattern (which won’t take long) it’s cake. In fact, all the bosses operate this way. Kind of difficult at first if you don’t know what you’re doing, but take the time to learn their simple patterns and use the appropriate weapon, it should be no problem.
There are only three bosses. Keep that in mind.
The game’s 16-bit counterpart had four. And there are four Junkbots.
In fact, I don’t even know who the hell two of those bosses are. Only Junkman is referenced. Not like it matters to anybody other than myself.
Now it’s music time! I always found the NES LJN games to possess a signature sound. It’s difficult to qualify, but it’s there. It’s a sort of fluttery synth sound, along with other identifiable phrases. Just listen for yourself.
I really do enjoy the LJN brand of music. For me, the tracks in this game are classic. But if you’re not me, I could possibly see how the music would be nothing special. Also, it’s fairly limited in variety. For most levels Slick has his theme and Spin has his. It won’t wear on you or anything, but you know…more would be nice. I’m fine with it personally because I enjoy the hell out of listening to what this game has to offer.
Well, that about sums it up. It’s alright. I’m sure a lot of you may think it’s pretty forgettable. And it is. But if you want a simple platformer you don’t have to think about too much and could possibly beat in a few sittings, then by all means go for it. Until next time, remember kids…
Okay, phew! Time for me to take my objectivity hat off.
I love this game!!! Oh my god, so much fun!!!
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