More puzzle than stealth, and enjoyable, if lacking that extra addictive quality that would demand you perfect every level. But when it clicks, it’s a blast.
Dynamite jack Review
by on January 3, 2013
We’ve been melted, clobbered, punched, shot, stabbed, crushed, drowned, sliced in half and blown to pieces so many times in games that we long ago became numb by default to digital death.
It’s therefore to Dynamite Jack’s credit that we were startled pretty much every time our screen was suddenly riddled with bullet-holes in this 2D thriller, even if we’d just been shot to death moments beforehand. It takes a keen sense of level design to take what’s effectively a fairly basic 2D puzzle game with stealth overtones and turn it into a tense, frequently exciting adventure, not least given that numerous restart points mean the hero of the hour never stays dead for more than a moment or two.
Dynamite Jack’s story is a simple one: a brave space marine has been captured and forced to work in an alien mine, but he’s escaped! Usefully, the likely intellectual high-point from the aliens was said abduction (or perhaps all the clever ones are safely above ground, avoiding menial work), because the guards within this game’s 28 levels are dolts. Then again, Jack’s probably not the smartest space marine in the corps, given his predilection for high explosives. You’d perhaps expect a marine trying to escape an alien mine that happens to be guarded by heavily armed aliens to sneak about and perhaps slit an alien throat or two as and when needs must. Instead, Jack detonates his way to freedom, blowing through cavern walls, bringing down neon-lit pipe networks, and frying the odd lurking guard or shuffling mutant. Blowing something up brings guards running, but given that they’d almost certainly be beaten in a game of chess by a slightly distracted chicken, they comically soon forget why they arrived and quickly return to their pre-set pathways.
If Dynamite Jack was trying to be a full-on stealth action game like Metal Gear Solid, this would all be a huge problem, but despite some slightly over the top rousing music, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. Restart points pepper the levels and so after you’ve had the pleasure of skipping a heartbeat on being shot or lasered to death, you return to your most recent save point. And given the clockwork nature of guard movements and other defences, along with the static and finite nature of pick-ups (a torch to better see with, your bomb kit, pretty gem stones), it’s clear Dynamite Jack is really a time-attack puzzle game with perhaps a splash of Bomberman-style arcade sensibilities.
This line of thinking is backed up by the scoring, which tracks how rapidly you complete a level, but also how many times you died along the way. Other achievements are also on offer, such as blowing up a set number of bombs, or getting through a level without being killed, and some are contrary (such as killing no guards and killing all guards), encouraging repeat plays. Online leaderboards provide worldwide competition, although you’ll be pitting your skills against people playing on the PC, where the controls are more robust than the slightly sloppy ones on iOS, unless you’ve an iCade knocking about. There are also 13 Game Center-specific achievements, but no Game Center scoreboards.
Curiously, we rarely felt the need to go back and perfect a level, but Dynamite Jack’s antics were interesting enough for us to reach the end of the game, the result of a few hours’ enjoyable play; and for those who do fall entirely under the game’s spell, there’s a built-in level editor and dozens of user-submitted maps to explore.
Download this app: Dynamite Jack for iPhone
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Review courtesy of Tap!