Review by W i l l

"Decent idea, but a flawed execution."

Cadillacs & Dinosaurs is a Capcom beat 'em up based on the comic book series by Mark Schultz. There is also a cartoon series of the same name which ran for one season.

Basically, it's the year 2513, America has been flooded after some disaster, and dinosaurs roam the earth again.

Great idea for a game, but a side scroller? It's about cars and about dinosaurs, and neither play a big role in this game.

When you start play, you can choose from four characters, drawn from the comics, I believe. The game tries to tell you their specialties, which leads to such amusing descriptions as 'good ability', 'item skilled' and 'high powered'.

Neither of these descriptions have any bearing on the game, except that the big guy deals more damage. Wow. Surprise.

GAMEPLAY
The controls are very responsive. So responsive, in fact, that it's very very hard to do the desperation attack on an actual arcade machine.

Enemies are quick to surround you and one-two you into a pulp; there is a long recovery time if you want to turn around after punching, so it's impossible to turn and run away in time to avoid getting clobbered by charging, jumping, scratching or shooting enemies.
The first boss is annoying to defeat once - but he returns in every stage, sometimes more than once! You're pretty much guaranteed to lose at least half your energy to this mofo: he has slightly more punch range than you and can do this nifty near-infinite combo that is really hard to break with some characters, and runs about twice as fast. In other words if you try to punch him you get clobbered, either by him or by his cronies.

The basic enemies are pretty weak - but every enemy other than the basic one is extremely deadly! Punks that run around at insane speeds and punch you in the back, fat men who charge you or try to jump on you (of course they do, this is a Capcom game...), poachers that appear harmless but shoot you dead if left alone for more than a second...apart they're not so bad, but they appear in huge, mixed groups and because they move so fast it's impossible to dodge anything, let alone start a run to perform a dash attack. Your air attack has next to no range and crap damage, so it isn't worth the time.

You get the standard Capcom down, up, attack uppercut, except in this game you can't chain it from your basic punch combo. OUCH. For the damage it does and the speed at which it comes out, you could just as well do a regular punch, that stops air attacks just as well.

Another thing is that there are too many weapons lying around; when I want to punch an enemy, I don't expect my character to pick up a weapon from the ground!
There isn't really an advantage to using a given gun on non-boss enemies; they just die more slowly compared to punching them. The only item worth using is the hand grenade, which deals decent damage. The shotgun is pretty lethal, but shotguns are fairly rare. Melee weapons should be avoided at all costs - they greatly lower your damage and attack speed. This makes to second boss, the Butcher, so annoying. Half the time you try to punch him, your character picks up one of the Butcher's blades only to be rewarded with either greatly lowered attack ability or a fist in the mouth.
The other bosses are just as bad, especially Slicer and the Slisaurs (yes, there's TWO of them the second time around).

To create a challenge, this game relies on cheap hits and simultaneously throwing tons of the fastest enemies in a side scroller ever at the player.

Compare Cadillacs & Dinosaurs to Alien versus Predator, the next Capcom side scroller, and you'll see where this game falters.

The game is fairly amusing, but to get really good at it is just not rewarding enough.

Gameplay: 4/10.

SOUND
Good. The punches sound very meaty, the music is excellent and pretty catchy, too. It's one of the reasons I keep playing this game - the music is so good.

9/10.

GRAPHICS
Average. The characters are well-animated, but some moves look pretty weak, like Mustapha's overhead kick. That's a whole 4 frames of animation there.
Also, the character's face that is shown when you complete a level is rather pointless; it's ugly, twitches and looks nothing like the character from the comic.
The fourth character, the big strong Mess O., looks pretty boring, though. A Neanderthal in two pieces of clothing. No details at all. Wow. Compared to Jack, the difference is staggering.

The enemies are a mixed bag as well. The basic enemies are well-drawn, but others look pretty lame; the knife guys don't fit in with the rest of the cast, for example. Lace T. and Vice T. look pretty bad; Capcom can do better.

The dinosaurs themselves look totally generic. Not good, not bad. The problem is their animation: two frames of walking animation is not enough for a sprite that fills half the screen! Even the final boss suffers from this - it looks awful. Shame, really, because the CPS2 board can do so much better...

Graphics: 5/10.

The setting of Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, combined with the excellent soundtrack, make up for a bit of the weak gameplay. Not enough to make the game better than average, though.

There you have it, my review. A six of of ten, in all, would be a fair grade, although it's really more of a 5.5: barely worth the trouble.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/05/02, Updated 10/05/02


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