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1989
Arcade: Adventure
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

62
Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

If you're looking for proof that excessive use of computers induces mental instability, take a look at the plot behind Dymanic Duo. I did, and swallowed hard. I held the instructions upside down. I held them under an ultra-violet lamp. I set fire to them. And I still haven't a clue what they're getting at. I'll do my best though, so take a couple of aspirin and read on.

You're a duck, and also a dwarf. You're exploring a large house, trying to find the Calculation Room, but first you have to find ten pieces of a key. These remove a number of fake Phantom Rooms from the map, allowing you to find the real one. Naturally, there are loads of baddies flying around, trying to stop you, but worst of all is the Grim Reaper, who chases you around and will kill you on contact. "You" being a dwarf. And also a duck!

See the problem?

The best thing to do in these situations is to load it up and see, so I did. Bad move. Confusion became despair as I grappled with thousands of awkwardly positioned controls and squinted awkwardly at the screen.

The screen is split into two halves, one for the dwarf, and one for the duck. The two characters can be controlled independently, either by yourself with a bit of finger-yoga or by two players (preferable). When the two characters join together however, something they can apparently do, the bottom half of the screen becomes a map of the house, showing the room layout and the position of the pursuing Grim Reaper.

Graphically (and everything else-ly for that matter), things are a little confused at first, but some cutely drawn sprites soon emerge, along with some rapid if jerky scrolling. It's all done in a tasteful shade of monochrome, like practically everything else these days, but this tends to go unnoticed in the general havoc surrounding the gameplay.

It's considerably easier with two players. According to the instructions you'll stand a better chance of success if the two characters split up, as they each have different characteristics, but they'll need to rejoin in order to travel between the different floors that make up the house. Both are armed to the teeth (whatever that means) and need to be, as the Grim Reaper's hordes are everywhere.

There are other peculiarities, such as orbs which can be rolled along the ground until they they explode leaving you free to walk through into the next room. Rather alarming, though, was the tendency for the dwarf to walk through passing doors at, will, with no prompting from me.

Other elements of the game leave a lot to be desired, such as the rather squalid front-end and the almost complete lack of sound FX, let alone music, but the overall effect is fairly pleasing. It's the way it plays that counts after all and in this respect it's not bad at all. A little lacking in variety perhaps, but certainly not bad.

In fact, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before. And with all due respect, I'm not sure that I want to again, but playing it is certainly an experience I won't forget in a while.

If you can find someone with similar inclinations willing to play it with you, Dynamic Duo could prove quite a worthy investment. It's not perfect, but should pack enough raw action (yuck) to keep most people happy.

A seriously weird but enjoyable clash with the powers of evil (or something).

8/10
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Screenshot Text

DWARF: Rather slow, but plenty of firepower, and he's the only one who can break open the chests containing the bits of key.

DUCK: Flies around at a quacking pace (eurgh!), so he's useful for sniffing out the route ahead, while Dwarf gets on with the serious stuff.

The Duck, in an uncompromising position.

The Dwarf.

An exploding orb.

A hole in the floor.

A rather handy map, or alternatively the duck's view of the world.

Lots of useful info (lives, score, the usual stuff!).