Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Big Dick's in town! Sworn to eradicate crime, the vigilante Private Investigator has decided to meander the environs in search of mendicants, panhandlers, and buskers. Well no, he's actually after Big Boy, Flattop, Itchy, and other crooks with silly names in order to clear the city of their evil presence (and appalling body odour).
A horizontally scrolling game, Dick Tracy is set over 18 levels of action, starting outside the police station and progressing to the underground HQ at the end of the game. Dick walks along, and is able to punch or shoot the villains in his path, as well as spray bullets from his tommy gun at those foes in the distance. Other levels have our hero standing on the running board of a car, trying to survive the hail of lead coming in his direction.
Bonus stages appear from time to time, where Dick shoots pop-up targets for extra points - providing he doesn't hit too many good guys! This also gives a welcome break during the eighteen levels.
Although he has unlimited bullets in his revolver, Dick only has up to three magazines for the tommy gun. So accurate shooting is needed if the man in the yellow mac is going to triumph over the forces of evil.
Warren Beatty's portrayal ol the classic comic character on the silver screen received a mixed welcome from the critics and the public Beatty insisted that the movie was filmed in as close to four colours as possible (comic books in the States were printed in four colours) Many famous actors appeared in cameo roles, such as Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Danny Kaye It failed to make as much money as hoped probably because Tracy is not as internationally famous as, say, Batman.
The bonus level consists of cardboard pictures, portraying civilians, gangsters and policemen, that spring up every couple of seconds in a random order. The player must quickly shoot the bad guys, taking care not to kill any of the civilians or cops. It's worth taking a second or so to check targets before opening fire!
My initial impressions of this game were high, as I like the small, detailed sprites that are used. The high number of levels and sub-levels is also a plus, with the varying modes of transport and backgrounds adding to the appeal of the game. However... the product is let down by a number of things. For a start, the control is slow and unresponsive, and therefore Dick can't avoid bullets in the way he should be able. The levels become repetitive in a very short period of time, so the number of them becomes irrelevant - a hundred levels of the same thing would hardly make a good game! This isn't an atrocious game, but simply one that lacks the "oomph" to make it something special.
Dick Tracey takes a bit of getting used to, since it has rather slow joypad response and a slightly strange control method, but once you get over that first hurdle, you find an addictive and challenging game hiding beneath. Although there's not a lot of variety, I found the reaction-testing gameplay thoroughly enjoyable since you've got to watch several things at once. There's plenty here to please shoot 'em up fans, and the graphics are very similar to the four-colour film. If you're after a good blast, check this out.