LOOK OUT! This one's going to blow!
Before Street Fighter II changed the arcade world by ushering in an age of one-on-one fighting, there were the button mashers: Final Fight, Ninja Turtles, and even The Simpsons. Mindlessly fun, these games had you wandering the streets while beating the crap out of tons of baddies. And while they are a bunch of fun to play at your local bowling alley, a home version desperately needs a little more. Such is the case with Dynamite Cop.
A mischievous band of pirates have stolen aboard a luxury ocean liner and are holding the president's daughter for ransom. Now, if you thought Chelsea was beat one too many times with the ugly stick, then you have yet to see the little monster in this game. Wait, was that too insensitive? No hate mail please. Okay -- how about: the attractively challenged girl now waits for you to rescue her.
You are one of three Navy Seals sent on the retrieval mission: Bruno, Jean or Eddie. Stereotypical tough guys lacking personality, each one is slightly different to offer the standard range of choices. Bruno is the average man. Jean is quick, but she isn't quite as tough. And Eddie is the strongest, but a mite slower.
There are initially three different missions. While each one goes through different areas of the ocean liner, you will always run up against the same groups of enemies. For example, you'll face a French chef in one mission, and a Chinese chef in another. Essentially, each one of these missions is the same, and astonishingly short as well. Whatever happened to offering different paths? After you finish the first three short missions, you get offered three more of slightly harder difficulty.
The fighting itself is pretty boring, with your basic punch and kick moves. There's nothing here that Double Dragon didn't do years ago, except for the weapons. In fact, the number of weapons in Dynamite Cop is amazing. Aside form a large variety of guns, swords, knives, grenades, spears, axes, and other obvious weapons, there are plenty of 'unconventional' weapons as well. You can spray your enemies with hairspray, throw a dinner roll at them, poke them with a broom, or whack them with a fish. Everything from your standard issue firearm to a vacuum cleaner is weapon-worthy. You can smack some pirate around with a side of beef, or drop a full sized missile atop him. In this game, weapons are king, as well the only variety. There are dozens more, and this is easily the best thing about the game.
Between stints of fighting, you'll find yourself running through hallways or up stairways. At times you will be able to alter your course slightly when the screen suddenly tells you to hit jump. Or kick. Or maybe punch. However, this really adds no value to the game. If this sequence was lengthier and involved a series of strictly timed buttons, perhaps it could have been more interesting.
Once you've finished this game, there's no reason to come back to it. There's a half-assed attempt to add replay value in the guise of hidden art images spread throughout the levels. Nice try. With the VMU plugged in, a little beep goes off whenever you are near one of the hidden objects. The entire art gallery option and collection routine just isn't enough incentive to keep playing.
Graphically, this game doesn't cut it. Considering what the Dreamcast can pull off (Soul Calibur), I was left wanting more. Yes, this is an older game, and yes, it looks just as good if not better than it did when it was in arcades… but not enough for me. The enemy characters are varied and detailed, with a few more interesting boss characters. However, the last boss doesn't inspire loads of fear. The environments are detailed and pretty, but for the most part the just stay static while you bust heads.
Punches and kicks resound with the standard thuds and grunts - nothing that you haven't heard before. While the music isn't very memorable, at least it doesn't take away from the game. It's made up mostly of chords of anticipation and overly dramatic tunes.
Maybe you enjoy getting twenty or thirty minutes of play out of a game or perhaps you desire the mindless factor without the fun. If this is the case, then Dynamite Cop is your bag. I, for one, would much rather dig up the classic Streets of Rage and give that the ole' go around. Dynamite Cop is fun the first time, a little less the second, and then there's no real point to keep at it. It's only a couple of quarters worth of arcade play; anyone who wants a full fledged game should remember there isn't one here.