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Dynamite Dux

1989 Sega

Sega Master System



I always kind of wondered why exactly the Master System failed so bad in North America. The console had better graphics than the competition and Sega ruled the arcades in the late 80s, back when arcades mattered. So what happened? What went wrong?

It might have something to do with every single Master System game being variations on the "Bad guy steals girlfriend, go beat up bad guy" theme. I know that pretty much every single game made in that entire decade had mutations of this story line, but still you could at least vary up your console releases with a few shooters or puzzle games or something. Anyway, here we have the titular significant other being stolen away by some green floaty head thing, whereupon our hero is also turned into an anthropomorphic duck (actually Beans the duck, who would later appear in Sonic the Fighters.) True to 8-bit video game rules he now has to walk left to right and punch things until he can get her back.

As you walk through several surreal looking levels that all look the same you fight these strange, freakish monstrosities, bizarre aberrations of nature that should not exist, like "Sausage deer" or little yipping big headed dog things. I don't feel too bad about killing these horribly deformed little animals. It's more like putting them out of their misery. In each level you face a mid and end level boss, all of which are variations on the same theme - an evil ball type thing with other evil balls that try to kill you, either made of rocks, steel, fire, lightning, etc. This is fine except that every single boss is a variation on the exact same design, and you even face some of them again in the later levels. Guess they just ran out of idea juice towards the end there.

What's the gimmick? Each one of these games has to have a gimmick of some kind, like a grapple arm or homing fireball or some other kind of strange powerup/unique gameplay mechanic. What's unique here? Umm... you can throw stuff at people. That's about it. Beans the duck is pretty useless in the fighting department, his default punching attack extends a whole three pixels away from his body is only good for hitting things that are on the verge of collision. He does have a "wind up punch" but it takes too long to charge, half the time you get hit while attempting it. You can also do a jumping kick that hits absolutely nothing. Thankfully most of the time you are armed with some kind of firing weapon - guns, bombs, boozookas, etc. Even with the weapon you end up taking more hits than necessary due to bad guys appearing out of nowhere, or suddenly charging you at a high speed from off the screen, or firing a guided bullet or some other cheap nonsense designed to get you to plunk in more quarters. This is an arcade translation after all. Anyway Mr. Beans is so utterly useless that if you run out of said weapon it's better to just dodge the oncoming bad guys instead of trying to fight them, and trying to face down a boss without a weapon is an exercise in me freaking out and smashing the damn SMS with a sledgehammer and then burning down a orphaned kitten shelter in frustration. Screw kittens anyway.

For some reason, I think a game about a talking duck hero guy who beats people up should be good. It's a duck, how could you screw that up? But useless attacking moves, unacceptable amounts of slowdown, and slow, plodding, unimaginative gameplay destroys any chance this abomination has at being fun.

Graphics: Not bad actually. Very nice looking sprites that aren't completely lame. The strange animal things you get to kill are probably the best part of the game.

Sound: Beeps and bloops, not much else going on here.

Gameplay: Walk, beat up freaky big-headed dog thing, take cheap hit, die, continue, repeat. Lame.

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