Review by KillAllPopStars
This game could have been so much better . . .
My first video game system ever was the NES, and I still have mine hooked up, even after all these years. So, whenever I come across a cartridge I don't already have, I snap it right up. A few months ago, I found The Incredible Crash Dummies at a yard sale for $1.00, and I just couldn't pass it up. This game was released in 1994, and is based on a fairly popular, car safety themed cartoon show of the time. An unlikely basis for a video game, but after the TV commercials, the action figures, the t-shirts, the made for video movies, and the pinball machine, a video game was sure to come along sooner or later. Well, it did, and this cheaply made attempt to cash in on the craze comes off as . . . . well, just that a cheaply made attempt to cash in on a popular media trend. However, as odd as it may sound, this game has the makings of a very good game and very well could have been, if just a bit more time and effort had been spent polishing it up. So, where does The Incredible Crash Dummies for the NES fall short? Read on to find out . . .
The plot is decent. Junk Man, the Dummies' nemesis from the cartoon series, has kidnapped Spare Tire and Daryl, two of the four Dummies, leaving the remaining two, Slick and Spin, behind to undergo a harrowing rescue mission, which will take them through warehouses, sewers, junk yards, and more, all teeming with Junk Man's evil devices. Okay, so it's not all that original or well developed, but the cut scenes in between levels progress the story and add a lot of humor to the game. It is camp, full of over the top slapstick and intentionally bad puns. So, in a sense, the over the top, cliche plot is justified. I mean, come on, we're talking about a world inhabited by walking, wisecracking crash test dummies here. In fact, the humor is one of the good points of the game, it's really what kept me playing through this otherwise mediocre game.
This is really where this game would have benefited from a bit more time in development and testing. The Incredible Crash Dummies is a fairly generic side-scrolling action platformer, wherein you progress through five levels, divided into two stages each, as either Spin, on a weird unicycle thing, or as slick on foot. You start out on the first stage with Spin. There are no special items to collect save for the occasional power-up, and no puzzles to solve, so, really, the point of each level is just to survive to the end. This formula could have been the basis for a decent action title. However, movement with spin is very hard to control because the controls are just too slippery to do the type of jumping, dodging, and stopping on a dime necessary to survive his stages. It took me almost an hour just to get through the first stage. Because of the loose controls, there are times when you just have to take a hit to go on. Slick is on foot, and he is a bit easier to control, but still annoying because his movements are choppy and there is a slight, but often deadly, delay in his reaction time. The hit detection works against you the whole game as well. To call it unforgiving is an understatement. Basically, if it even appears as if you MIGHT hit something, it registers damage, which can often send you shooting all the way across the stage and into another obstacle, thus forcing you to take even more damage, or even into a bottomless pit. Sometimes this even happens for no apparent reason. This isnt a matter of bad reflexes though, just poor programming and a rather shoddily put together action game with an oversensitive hit detection system. And the boss fights! They are so unbelievably underwhelming! The only saving grace in this department is that the game is very short.
Okay, admittedly, I have seen worse on the NES, but for a game released in 1994, at the very end of the 8-bit era, they are inexcusably bad. Everything is blocky, and the colors are garish and often clash with one another. It just looks ugly, like a four-year-old drew the whole thing in crayon. I give it a little credit, because it does capture the sort of cartoonish feel I believe the developers were going for, but all in all this game is hard to look at. Again, just a bit more effort put into the look of this game would have done wonders for the overall quality of the end product.
I really have nothing to say either way about the sound in this game. It's the NES, and it sounds like the NES. It is neither good nor bad, just incredibly generic in every way. Wholly forgettable.
This game could have been soooo much better with just a bit more work. Even just tighter controls might have bumped the score up a point or two. The only thing that keeps me from giving this game lower than a four is the fact that it amuses me. There is enough quirky slapstick humor, horrible punning, and goofiness to make the game, despite it's many, many flaws, playable. So, barring the humor, this game probably would have been a two, at best.
Ignore this one. Unless you were a fan of the Crash Dummies and looking for a bit of nostalgia, I really can't see any reason anyone would want to play this title. Everything here has been done before, and much better, elsewhere.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: The Incredible Crash Dummies (US, 08/31/94)
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