Your Sinclair1st October 1989
Published in Your Sinclair #46
Cute coin-op conversions - they're like bloomin' buses! You don't see any for ages then a whole load come at once. There are plafformy ones (like the The New Zealand Story and Rainbow Islands), shoot-'em-uppy ones (Mr Heli), arcade adventurey ones (Super Wonderboy) and, erm, even waddling-along-the-street-punching-thingsy ones. And guess what? As far as twaddling-along-the-street-punching-thingsy games go, the don't get much better than Dynamite Dux!
Activision has done a pretty sound job on the conversion. You play a duck (of course), a duck with a mission -your friend Lucy has been kidnapped and you're out to rescue her. She's trapped somewhere at the end of six horizontally scrolling, cartoon-style levels. So let's waddle off and see how we do.
Hmm. It all seems pretty easy so far. The first level is just like a twisty suburban road, nothing too dangerous here. Hang on a cotton-picking minute though! What on earth are these?? A bouncing team of formation dog heads!?! They're not really going for you - it's quite easy to get out of the way if you want to and let them bounce merrily past - but nah.
It's just too tempting to quickly jab the fire button and - pow! - your massive Popeye-style fist socks the mutt in the mush.
Blimey! Here comes a herd of sproinging moose heads. Biff! That sorted them out. Uh oh! It's a pig on a trolley - he looks a bit tough. Better hold down the fire button for a bit longer - your hand now spins around Popeye-style, building up energy before delivering a devastating upper cut. Whammo!
And so it goes on. There are sandwiches and other foodstuffs to pick up (extra energy) and extra weapons too. What's that? Looks like a (smiling!) bomb. Now I can chuck these at the bad guys instead of punching them. And this one? It's a rocket launcher. Eat strontium death, surreal cartoon animals!
Boxing crocodiles, rocket-boosted cows, moles, big fire monsters (which appear twice a level) and similar creatures all gladly line up to be knocked into next week by this unstoppable feathered fiend. There's only one bit of strategy involved - making sure that out of the many weapons that present themselves along the way you're carrying the right one to deal with the next nastie. Throwing eggs at the fire monster won't do much good, but squirting that water pistol might!
And that's it. Basically, then, a cartoon beat-'em-up which looks as much like a Loony Tune or Merry Melody as you can get. The fist punching comes from Popeye, the duck himself is just Woody Woodpecker with webbed feet, and you can even see the word 'Pow!' written in the air when you punch someone out. Graphics are in clear monochrome, with well-defined sprites, smooth animation and perfectly acceptable four way scrolling.
The only problem is that it is a bit of a one note game. All you really get to do is waddle along punching things which isn't really all that interesting. The bad guys aren't very intelligent either. Most of them just bounce past taking little or no interest in you. Its easy to punch a few of them out, but only when you're really swamped by sheer numbers that you need to.
The other limitation is that there are only really two combat moves - standing right in front of a baddy and punching, or standing a few feet away and throwing something at him. Even if we're generous and count the windmilling mega-punch as a third move, there isn't much variety here. I always think of a cute character as a good excuse for some platform and ladder shenanikins, but since there aren't any platforms, let alone a jump option, you obviously don't have that here.
I had fun playing Dynamite Dux. It's a birrova laugh, but take away the bizarre characters and neat graphics and you've got a very samey beat-'em-up with a severe lack of combat moves. Add the fact that the Speccy version doesn't get the two player option that made the coin-op such fun and I'm not sure how long you'll be playing it after the novelty has worn off.
Very appealing and cute beat-'em-up with neat cartoony graphics, but not much variety in gameplay.