Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Scrolling Fighting Games #4

Dynamite Dux (1988)
By: Sega  Genre: Fighting  Players: 1-2   Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 26,940
Also Available For: Master System, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

No matter when fighting games are set, whether past, present, or future, they're nearly always serious affairs, if not always necessarily realistic. There's usually some sort of personal revenge involved and someone typically needs rescuing too, more often than not a damsel in distress who has become an unwitting pawn in the schemes of a dastardly maniacal tyrant, evil crime boss, or something equally heinous. A wide variety of muscle-bound male and sexy female heroes have come and gone but what of that cute and nonsensical 'crazy Japanese' style of game that has graced so many other genres? Shoot 'em ups, platformers, racing games, RPG's, even sports games are catered for, but this unique and amusing style seems to have given this particular genre a wide berth. Or has it?

Bin and Pin face some deadly moose-heads...
Yes that's right, there actually is a game of that type out there, and it arrived in the late 80's courtesy of Sega! To be honest I had completely forgotten about this peculiar game until recently but I don't know how - it's absolutely loopy! Like many of its more realistic, or 'normal' contemporaries, the object here is to rescue a ditzy girly. In this case it's a young lady called Lucy who's been kidnapped by the evil Sorcerer Achacha. Rather than her boyfriend or father, or indeed any other Human offering to rescue her though, it instead falls to her two faithful pet ducks, Bin and Pin, who must brave the dangers presented by six side-viewed stages filled with the sorcerer's minions before they can reclaim her. I don't know, all this effort and probably just so she can prepare their dinner...

Taking on some missile-firing pooches (or something)...
It has a lot in common with other scrolling fighting games, but where Dynamite Dux differs from other games of the type is mostly in its aesthetics, as you can probably tell from the screenshots! The stages themselves are set in fairly normal locations - Down Town, Japan, Jungle, Chicago, Texas, and Achacha - and most of them wouldn't look out of place in any other fighting game. It's the enemies that'll catch the eye here. Standing between our heroic ducks and their goal are masses of utterly bizarre enemies. On the first stage, for example, you'll encounter bouncing dog and moose heads, army dogs (with bodies, this time), roller-skating wolves, rabbits-on-springs, and red boxing crocodiles! As well as having middle and end-of-stage boss fights, each stage also introduces new, mostly animal-based enemies.

Eeek! Mouse stampede!
All of the unusual creatures here can hurt Bin and Pin by mere touch alone but some of them are also armed! Any normal duck wouldn't even stand much of a chance against a snapping dog head nevermind a missile-firing relative! Still, I suppose evil sorcerer's rarely play it fair. Indeed, enemy bombardment can soon deplete the energy bars of our intrepid ducks so it's lucky that the stages are littered with weapons they can also pick up and use. These range from mere rocks, up to guns, bombs, and even flame-throwers, missile-launchers, and bazookas! They only last for a limited time of course, and are easily knocked from the hands of Bin and Pin, but they are more than adequate for despatching the seemingly never-ending minions of Achacha.

Flying Kick vs Barrage of Missiles...
When no weapons are available, Bin and Pin have a pretty mean punch at their disposal and most non-boss enemies are felled by a single strike. They can also 'charge' a more powerful winding punch, which can clout several enemies at once, and perform a flying kick. Helpfully, they can also walk, and more importantly fight, in all eight directions. In addition to the weapons, there are also numerous different kinds of foodstuffs here and there which predictably replenish Bin and Pin's energy, and treasure chests can be opened for bonus points. As mentioned, the stages are pretty normal but they do feature (admittedly limited) alternate routes. Generally, one path leads underground while the other continues above ground until they join up again. Every two stages there's also a bizarre bonus round which pits Bin against Pin in a boxing match! The computer will control Pin in a one-player game but this is superb fun against a friend!

Bin vs Pin, and refereed by Col. Sanders!
Almost inevitably, the first thing that will strike you about Dynamite Dux is its graphics. The stages themselves look really nice and feature a decent, if somewhat unrealistic, variety of locations (it's a hell of a topsy-turvy path to the sorcerer's lair!). You don't get a great deal of time to admire the pretty scenery, however, as the plentiful enemies soon converge! They are all very cartoon-like and superbly drawn, and must surely be the craziest bunch of goons I've ever punched/kicked/shot the crap out of! Most of them have a lot of character too - check out the expression on the faces of the bazooka-firing dogs! Bin and Pin are very charming characters too. The bow-tie-wearing ducks faces change as their energy level gets lower but they look very happy and cheerful most of the time. Even the bombs have happy smiles on their faces!

Bin winding up a punch to hit... no one...
As you may have guessed, like many scrolling fighters, Dynamite Dux is best played as a two-player game. It's immense fun when a friend joins in but as a one-player game it's still very enjoyable. Each stage offers something the previous one didn't and the amusing mayhem is accompanied by a great and very catchy soundtrack. The whole look of this game really epitomised Sega in their prime in my opinion and goes a long way to making the game as charming as it is. I did try to imagine if the game would be so enjoyable with the usual soldiers or thugs instead of the insane cartoon sprites here but I'm not sure that's the point. Part of the game's appeal is the zany atmosphere created by them as well as the jolly music and sound effects. It's not a game of enormous skill - in later stages when the screen starts filling up with homing missiles, your options for avoiding them are limited - but it doesn't really need to be. Dynamite Dux is funny, addictive, and a lot of fun, and that's what matters. I suggest you give this forgotten gem a try if you haven't before.

RKS Score: 8/10


  1. Great article, RKS! I played the crap out of this with a friend when I was about 10. We loved the way the Dux would wind up their punches before delivering an inflated fist in their opponents faces! We would even struggle our way through a stage with corrupted graphics through trial and error just to see what was next (we had a dodgy cracked copy).

  2. Haha, sweet! Which version did you have? ST? I always meant to get it for the Master System but never got around to it. I like funny games though so I'm glad I did finally play the game :)