Dynamite Düx

Platform: Arcade (Sega System 16)
Other Platforms: Master System, Amiga, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum
Developer: Sega AM2
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1988
Genre: Scrolling brawler - Maze
Players: 1-2 (Co-op)

Dynamite Düx fares fairly well for a scrolling brawler- or as close an approximation to one as you could get back then- released in that strange period after Double Dragon but before Final Fight, but it's still not a particular hidden gem. It's just OK. As either Bin (blue, player 1) or Pin (red, player 2), you must journey into the Achacha World to rescue your owner, Lucy, from the villanous Achacha. The only thing standing in your way is an army of baffling enemies that wouldn't look out of place in a Looney Tunes short.

As the genre was still in its infancy at the time, there wasn't much of a rulebook to play rfom, so Dynamite Düx does do things differently from what you'd expect- there's no forced end to scrolling to clear out enemies so you're free to run ahead and leave enemies behind if you wish, almost all non-boss enemies take only one hit before dying, and you can also charge up your punch attacks (which is exactly what you want to do, all the time, because the attack range on them is so much better). The other major difference is the aesthetic- it ditches the genre-standard humans for cute (if vicious) cartoon animals, with a definite nod to American cartoons present and correct, which gives it a lot of charm. There's also some nice variety with the array of weapons you get to play with (including rocket launchers and flamethrowers) and the two different paths you can take during the second half of each round.

The main problem with the game, one that's not really counterbalanced by the visual charm of the game, is the overall feel of it, especially in terms of collision detection and speed. It's not too uncommon to find yourself being hit by things you could've sworn you were clear of, and it just all feels a little floaty and weird, especially if you try and jump over obstacles. The hit detection can be used to your advantage, mind- charged punches have a tendency to hit where you wouldn't expect (and even enemies behind ones you hit get caught!) but that doesn't quite sort it. As for the speed, this is something you can level at a lot of brawlers from this era, but it does drag a little (something I noticed when doing multiple playthroughs, I kept wanting to quit around Round 5, which is a shame as the final round/boss is pretty fun). As said, it does fare better than some other efforts from the time (hello there, P.O.W. - Prisoners of War!) but it does feel that with some tweaks, it could've been something better than it is.

Despite those criticisms, Dynamite Düx fits into that category of games that's not exactly essential or some forgotten classic of the genre, but it's one that, if it appeals to you visually, is worth a try, as it doesn't do anything massively bad. It's just a little iffy here and there. Personally, a good game to contrast with it is Splatterhouse, as odd as it sounds- there, the game was rock-solid but much of the appeal is the tone, the atmosphere of the thing. Here, the game is less solid and not quite as tightly-made, but the visuals are a strong element, if nothing else. One of the curious (although, a few years later, it'd be outclassed in the one-hit-kill-brawler stakes by Pu.Li.Ru.La. Always bet on Taito, eh?)

For being a decent, weird example of a fledgling genre, Dynamite Düx is awarded...

In a sentence, Dynamite Düx is...
Alright, like.

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