Review by Tom Clark

Reviewed: 01/02/02 | Updated: 01/02/02

How could this game be bad? I mean, you get to throw midgets!

A fair few years ago now, a game appeared in the arcades and on the humble NES called 'Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja'. It became something of a cult hit, not least because of the shockingly awful opening line, which asks if you are 'a bad enough dude' to rescue the President (or President Ronnie in the Arcade version) from the ninjas. Despite the fact that, although fun in small doses, Bad Dudes wasn't very good, it spawned a sequel. Well, half-sequel, really. Two Crude Dudes on the Sega Mega Drive isn't officially related to it's NES brethren, but it is as much a part of the Dragon Ninja world as the Darkwing Duck game on the NES is of the Mega Man world - if you've tried both of those Capcom games, you'll know what I mean. TCD again sees chaos reign down on America, with only two Dudes able to save civilisation from the villains by generally beating the living Puff Daddy out of everything and anything that moves. Only this time there's an extra button involved.

Although far better than the 'Presidential Peril' plot of it's predecessor, the plot in Two Crude Dudes is still fairly weak. In 2010 a mysterious nuclear blast wipes New York pretty much from the map, leaving only ruins in it's wake. Twenty years later, man ventures into the wreckage to begin a cleanup process, only for a violent gang calling themselves 'Big Valley' (hardly a name to chill the blood, but still) emerge from the woodwork and claim what's left of the city as their own. Thankfully, the powers that be know just the dudes for the job, and it's off to scrolling beat-'em-up territory we go.

There are so many aspects of this game that will be familiar to Bad Dudes fans - the 'upper and lower floor' level structure that means that there is normally a platform to walk along about halfway up the screen as well as along the bottom of it, and the use of soda cans to replenish health. However, a third button is employed here - in addition to the jump and attack buttons that are essential for games of this ilk there is a 'throw' button, which you will find yourself using as often as possible. Various pieces of scenery can be launched at the marauding enemy hordes, from the run-of-the-mill (rocks and oil drums) to the more outlandish (burnt-out cars, or even traffic lights that can be thrown like javelins) this feature adds extra variety and spice to the proceedings. In addition to this, the enemies can be plucked up and used as projectiles against their unsuspecting colleagues. There is a nice amount of variety in the enemies themselves - the standard grunts look like they belong in cheesy B-movies, all long dark hair and black goatees, but the more inspired enemies include hunchbacked midgets, purple Santas whose sacks contain rather explosive treats, and bombers with faces that seem to have been based on Frankenstein's Monster. The bosses, too, have a great deal of variety to them - they include a boar/human hybrid, a Freddie Kruger wannabe, and a cyborg with a meaner left hook than John Prescott. Although the strategies required for felling these foes remains pretty much unchanged throughout the game, each battle is immensely enjoyable.

The presentation on offer in Two Crude Dudes take a very tongue in cheek stance. When beating on an enemy, words such as 'Krak' appear on screen in a style not unlike the sixties Batman TV show. The tunes on display are all immensely hummable (level two's in particular) and are very reminiscent of corny Eighties bubble gum Pop music. While they do evoke memories of a musical era probably best left forgotten, they are perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the game. The levels are graphically very impressive too - this is probably one of the most visually accomplished titles on the Mega Drive. While most involve ruins of some sort, each level has it's own distinctive style, and there are several nice touches scattered around - the snow on level four, for example, or the graffiti on the walls in the background (which includes the, frankly, odd appearance of the word 'banana'). All in all this game is light-hearted in both the graphical and aural departments. Whereas many companies would have tried to mask the fantastically silly plot in moody shades and dark and dramatic sounds (a mistake made with Bad Dudes), Data East have learnt from the past and embraced the fact that this game isn't exactly Shakespeare, making the whole game much more fun than a serious appearance would allow.

The game still manages to present a challenge though. Although in the two player mode Two Crude Dudes is fairly easy for veterans of games such as Altered Beast or Streets Of Rage, when there is only one player on screen, proceedings become much tougher, as the number of enemies on display is just the same as the two player mode. Although that doesn't sound so special, it really does help the game, in that it manages to achieve the deceptively tricky task of making a game designed to be a fun rather than taxing two-player experience engaging enough to satisfy the loners out there. Hoorahs all round!!!

Two Crude Dudes manages to capitalise on the minor success of Bad Dudes, while at the same time achieving what the latter could not - it's actually a good game. In all truthfulness, it may not have depth, it may not have unlockable hidden features, it may not even be that long, but it manages to do what many bigger games nowadays do not - it manages to be simple, uncomplicated, fun. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Rating: 9

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