Dick Tracy (NES)

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Dick Tracy (NES)
Join Dick Tracy in a game where everyone is a palette swap of him
Genre: Action
Platforms: NES
Release Date: August 1990
Developer: Realtime Associates
Publisher: Bandai
Franchise: Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy is an action/adventure game featuring the comic strip character Dick Tracy that was released for the NES in 1990. It was developed by Realtime Associates and published by Bandai as a tie-in for the Disney movie of the same name.


The game is spread over 5 "cases" in which the objective for each is to explore the city and collect enough evidence to find and arrest the suspect. The gameplay itself is split into two sections, an overhead driving section and a side-scrolling section where you punch and shoot bad guys.

Why It Sucks

  1. Driving around the city suffers from flawed controls. Since the car always moves on the right of the road, stopping in the middle of an intersection is a very bad idea since it will make the car virtually unmovable.
  2. Dick and his car share the same life meter.
  3. If you exit the car, you can't move very far from it. This can prevent you from successfully avoiding the bullets that snipers shoot at you.
  4. While driving around the city you will often meet an orange car that always stays before you on the street and will inevitably damage your car when it comes back after encountering a dead end.
  5. Convoluted map design e.g. if you're at 7th & B on the map and you drive north expecting to find 7th & C, you'll end up at 8th & D.
  6. Imperfect jumping system makes it hard to jump on tiny platforms (like the "poles" at the piers).
  7. There's no extra ammo for your hand gun in the levels. You have to drive back to the police station to refill ammo.
  8. It is not possible to see the hints you collected while on the driving sections and worse than that you can never review what interrogated criminals told you.
  9. Enemies in later levels shoot at too fast a rate to avoid.
  10. Your bullets do not hit enemies situated behind or near a sofa or a table, but they can always hit you.
  11. Rats are nearly impossible to escape from. Unless you have tear gas, and that caps out at eight, you will get swarmed by them before long.
  12. A minor flaw is that in some instances, safes that fall from above are too fast to avoid.
  13. The game suffers from quite poor details: every male character in the game (which means everyone except Breathless Mahoney, who has her own sprite) is a palette swap of Dick Tracy meaning that you will see the iconic and famous rogues gallery only when you view the mug shots or when you interrogate them. What's worst is that the Blank has a face. The tommy gun has a sprite only as collectible item on the game levels, when you pick it up it shares the pistol's sprite; only the fire rate changes.
  14. There's a glitch when fighting Big Boy (the final boss and suspect) where the last shot on him before dropping his gun counts as shooting an unarmed enemy, meaning you'll instantly die if you're low on health even though you defeated him fairly.
  15. Activating first aid can be difficult to do: press select to highlight it, then hold B and then press select again. Because it doesn't work like the other items in the game, it's easy to mistime the needed inputs for it.
  16. Depending on where a getaway car spawns in some Cases, you may take unavoidable damage if your car was nearby where it spawns.
  17. Some clues are out of reach, and may take some trial and error to get them.
    • If you collected the final clue before collecting all the other clues and arrest the culprit, you will get scolded. You have to collect all of the clues in a case in order to arrest the culprit.
  18. In one Case, due to a bug in the game's programming, there's no exit to the level. The player is required to interrogate the criminal who has nothing to do with the case, resulting in an abuse of power.

Redeeming Qualities

Though not an excellent game, Dick Tracy for the NES has a few features that actually allow the player to complete the game.

  1. A password system that allows the player to start after the last level he completed. This also resets the abuses of power by the player. However the inventory will be emptied when the game is resumed.
  2. The game offers you medkits to heal you. You can however carry only two of them at a time. Even better, it replenishes your energy completely.
  3. The gameplay idea of being a detective is interesting, even though this game could have done it better.
  4. You can use tear grenades to wipe out all enemies on screen.
  5. While it is true that you won't find ammo for your pistol, you can find Thompson guns in levels that will add 50 bullets to your inventory. When you run out of them you will still have the pistol ammo you had when you picked up the tommy gun.
  6. These items respawn in the same place the next time you enter the same building where you find them, allowing you to have a "safe place" where you can restock ammo and heal you as much as you want.
  7. Snipers' shots can be 100% avoided if you stay behind your car. From this position you can effectively shoot them without taking damage. This tones down the difficulty of the game at least a bit.
  8. Snipers shoot only at a 45° angle regardless of your position. This fact, combined with the previous point, makes killing them a sort of easy task, with practice.
  9. Killed snipers don't respawn.
  10. Decent soundtrack.
  11. Good graphics, some sprites look very detailed.
  12. None of the enemies or hazards deal more than one full star of damage. Safes can be avoided with good timing.


  • There are several other Dick Tracy games published as tie-ins for the 1990 movie. One was released for the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System, one for the Game Boy and one for the Atari ST, Amiga, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS along another computer game titled Dick Tracy: The Crime Solving Adventure for the MS-DOS and Amiga; all of these are completely different games.
  • Despite it being released around the time of the movie's popularity, it doesn't follow the plot of the movie at all.
  • This was one of the few video games to rely on detective work before L.A. Noire was released several years ago.

The Angry Video Game Nerd's Review

Mike Matei Playthrough




one month ago
Score 0




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