In 1990, Dick Tracy made the jump from the comic page to the big screen. Having been primarily relegated to serials and radio prior, this was a bombastic and big budget production featuring the talents of Warren Beatty, Madonna and Al Pacino. As with any movie released at this period in time, a video game adaptation was a guaranteed
While 8-bit as well, this game is completely different from the NES version and actually follows the plot of the movie. The box's background has the traditional grid pattern that all Master System and Genesis games were known for. The rest of the box is taken up by artwork of Tracy firing a tommy gun, taken directly from the movie.
The game's title screen is a recreation of the box art, done in 8-bit. Nothing much more here.
The start of stages and rounds usually begins with a comic style intro scene like the one above. It features Tracy talking to Sam on his radio watch, with Sam giving exposition.
The game is broken up into a few types of gameplay. The first, noted here is the standard platforming level, Tracy has a pistol and a tommy gun. Enemies are on different planes, infront of him and in the background. Tracy can shoot the enemies with his pistol or punch them if they're close enough. The Tommy Gun is needed to shoot enemies in the background. However, care should be taken as that;s where breakable items are and this can reduce your score if you shoot windows.
It's also in these stages that we get different types of backgrounds, ranging from the city streets, to warehouses and even sewers. Each level has it's own different types of enemies, ranging from simple thugs who punch Tracy, to ones who throw explosives, to knifemen and finally even gunmen. In this type of play, pushing both buttons together will activate Sam Catchem, who will fire a spray of Tommy gun fire and kill all enemies on the screen. It only works once and in certain areas and it won't work against boss fights.
At certain points in the game, Tracy will declare that he's out of ammo and will be forced to do platforming levels without the aid of Sam or any of his guns. This is odd, given the fact he has infinite ammo in other levels. It does add challenge, especially when there are enemies that keep theirs.
The final type of gameplay is the car chase stages. Tracy will ride on the side of a police car to his next destination and will be required to shoot gunmen in cars both in front and behind him, as well as people in cars in the background. Sam can't be used here at all.
In between certain rounds, Tracy gains access to a shooting gallery stage. Here, two targets will pop up and the player has to shoot the villains and NOT the good guys. The good guys will be wearing police badges. If the player succeeds in hitting all the bad guy targets with no misses, they are awarded extra continues.
The game is an interesting arcade style action game. It offers some great variety and stages for an 8 bit game released in 1990. Definitely better than the NES version. You can view a playthrough here. The real challenge in the game is the difficulty, as it's not easy, even on easy and the stiff controls. It may take some getting used to, but once you're down. it becomes much easier.