Retro Review: Dynamite Cop

Dynamite Deka is a series of beat em up games first introduced to American arcades in the mid-1990s. Renamed “Die Hard Arcade” to capitalize on the success of the movie franchise of the same name, the game was later ported to the SEGA Saturn, and to this day remains the only good 3D brawler to ever make it to the system. Dynamite Deka 2 would later be ported to the Dreamcast some years later, renamed Dynamite Cop. Is this game any good? Read on to find out.

Dynamite Cop is a very easy game to describe: take the brawler gameplay from Streets of Rage, throw it into the third dimension, and add some QTEs and some poorly made cutscenes, and you get Dynamite Cop. Players are thrown into a series of 3D arenas where they battle it out against all manner of crazy looking bad guys. You throw kicks, punches, fight with everything not nailed down including chairs, urinals and even other enemies, and you can also fire any number of weapons including machine guns, bow and arrows and…ship to ship missiles. Your characters get an assortment of moves to play with, including combed punches, kicks, and grapples. This wide assortment of weapons and moves allows for just enough variety and strategy to keep this game exciting and fun. These 3D arenas are separated by cut scenes and the occasional one button QTE to keep you on your toes.

As a brawler, Dynamite Cop is easily my favorite on the Dreamcast. The three characters are each varied enough to give any player a different preference. The characters are fast and agile, and they are very quick to turn around to fight another opponent. The fighting system itself is very polished, though I did find it difficult to pick things up at times.

Dynamite Cop’s greatest flaw is probably its length. Provided you don’t run out of credits, it’s possible to beat it in about an hour. This flaw betrays Dynamite Cop’s arcade roots. The game is divided up into three missions, and each mission is essentially a variation of the game’s plot, which changes depending on which entry point you choose. All of the missions reuse at least some of the areas seen in the other missions, though it’s impossible to see the entire game or unlock the additional modes without playing through all three missions. Just be prepared for a lot of recycled content by mission 3.

In addition to the different missions, the game also has unlockables that help extend the play time. You can unlock an obscure arcade game called “Tranquilizer Gun”, a maze/shooter hybrid in which a player wonders around a maze of forest, tranqs some wild animals, and drags them back to his truck. Catching all four types of animal allows the player to advance to the next level. TG is a solid little game, and an interesting peak into SEGA’s more obscure pre-console past. You can also collect a variety of concept art that gives the otherwise nameless playable characters and enemies some backstory. The game even comes with a translated version of a promotional comic released on the game’s website, complete with some coding to make it an easy read on the TV. Finally, Dynamite Cop comes with a much more difficult “Showdown” mode, which can only be played once all three missions have been beaten. While not a long game, Dynamite Cop is at least not a pure arcade port. The developers took some steps to give Dreamcast gamers more bang for their buck.

Audio/visually, this game is clearly an arcade game from early in the Dreamcast’s life span. It’s loaded with early Dreamcast era textures, and the character models are just ugly in close ups. Like any good SEGA arcade game, the game does still manage to be a little visually appealing, with some creative character designs and some very colorful environments. Nevertheless, for a Dreamcast game Dynamite Cop does look sub-par. The voice acting is classic SEGA arcade bad, and the dramatic orchestral music helps enhance the game’s “Hollywood Action Movie” feel.

Despite these flaws in the audio and visual department, Dynamite Cop is still a strange experience. Let me just emphasize that. This will be one of the strangest experiences you will ever have on the Dreamcast. The story itself is simple but nonsensical: Wolf Hongo, the big bad guy from the last game, has taken over a cruise ship and has again kidnapped the President’s daughter, as he did in the last game. This time however he has somehow been able to break down the barriers of hatred between several factions of minions, and has hired pirates, ninjas, strongmen in animal suits, sumo wrestlers and islanders to destroy a the Cruise Liner and take you out. So the enemies are kind of weird, and lend themselves well to some modern internet memes. The ways you can dispatch them are even stranger. You can beat them up with plates full of rice balls, slap them around with tuna, smash urinals over their heads, and even nuke them with anti-ship missiles.

Dynamite Cop is a spoof and a homage to the American action flick. You want to know why the original Dynamite Deka was renamed Die Hard Arcade in the West? Because it shared genuine similarities with Die Hard Arcade. Both games featured a bad ass looking dude in a tank top. Both games were about the main character storming through a building beating up bad guys and trying to rescue the girl.  There are of course, numerous differences, but they were similar enough that SEGA was able to link the properties, and that’s because the original was effectively a homage to Die Hard’s type of movie. Heck, the game even manages to emulate the gradual destruction of clothing that happens in most action movies too. Dynamite Deka 2, true to action movie sequels, is more over the top, more insane, more epic, and more action packed. If you’re a fan of action movies, you will enjoy this game.
Dynamite Cop is a short but sweet experience, and until SEGA finally gives it its much needed port to download services, I highly recommend picking it up for the Dreamcast. It’s a great brawler with game play that outshines its aged graphics and presentation. It’s length probably held it back from being a classic back in the Dreamcast’s heyday, but in this day and age when the Dreamcast is lucky to get a new game a year, it’s an experience no Dreamcast owner should pass up. Pick it up.

Positives

  • Polished brawling game play
  • Lots of weapons to use
  • Join anytime multiplayer
  • Lots of unlockables
  • Solid soundtrack

Negatives

  • Even when taking all three missions into account, game is only a few hours long.
  • Lots of recycled content to artificially extend playtime
  • Graphics have aged poorly, and were not terribly good looking even for the time

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4 responses to “Retro Review: Dynamite Cop

  1. Djawed says:

    I loved dynamite cop. Me and my little brother have played the game so many times that it’s just printed in our memories lol. There’s something about the game that makes me chuckle everytime i play it. It’s like playing a game version of a hilariously bad acted B movie. The gameplay is really good however.

  2. I loved the fact that it included a retro SEGA arcade game. WIsh every Dreamcast game did that. Shenmue did, this did…

  3. teirusu says:

    nice one of the best beat em up games on the dreamcast i loved the arcade style of gameplay of this game

  4. Hergen says:

    A review of the imo better die hard arcade would be great.

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