Though I’ve already reviewed Dandy & Randy DX over on Retro Dodo (and you should definitely check that out – here’s the link!), I definitely had more to say on the game – so here we are!
Though indie homages to 16-bit games and genres are everywhere these days, it’s rare that one captures my attention enough that I end up compulsively playing it to completion – but that is what happened with Dandy & Randy DX.
A super colourful homage to games such as Goof Troop and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Dandy & Randy DX sees the titular characters set off for the Sunshine Islands in order to seek their fortune, having fallen into seemingly inescapable debt. Played from a top-down perspective, the game takes players on an adventure across five (and maybe more!) distinct stages, with lush grasslands, hot desert, icy tundra and subterranean mines all on offer.
Each stage consists of a fairly large number of areas, with four coloured keys to find in order to access all areas. Bosses – usually belonging to the NoGood Pirate Gang – feature, sometimes multiple times on a stage, and all are visually distinct as well as completely different to play against from a tactical point of view.
It’s a charming game that takes block pushing puzzles from Goof Troop, inventory items that aid in solving puzzles and gaining access to new areas from the aforementioned A Link to the Past and even inspiration from its porcine shopkeeper and treasure-related audio effects from the Wonder Boy games.
Though it is great fun to play – and can be tackled in co-op too – and only lasts a few hours overall, it’s let down by a complete lack of checkpoints, which becomes a real pain in the later stages; particularly when there are multiple bosses to defeat, one after the other, and lots of backtracking to get there. This becomes a real issue in the penultimate and final levels, whereas until then it’s not too difficult to get yourself back on track, despite still needing to complete block puzzles and boss encounters again after dying.
There’s also a bit of an issue with a few of the bosses in the latter stages, with little or no feedback on whether or not you’re actually doing any damage to them during combat. It’s odd, as one of the final boss fights has vibration feedback to register hits during one stage of the battle, but this completely disappears just a few moments later when the fight evolves and you find yourself targeting something different entirely.
The main thing to bear in mind, however, is that this is – on the whole – a very well designed game that doesn’t feel bloated or outstay its welcome at all; even if you do get stuck, as I did, repeating certain parts of the latter levels to a tedious degree, the game does only last for a few hours. Which is perfectly fine; it’s actually really refreshing to have a game so involving that knows when to bow out. The challenge of the last few stages really makes completion feel like an achievement too.
So is it a game I’d recommend? Not unreservedly or without caveats, given its issue with a lack of checkpoints and the backtracking that requires. However, gamers who grew up with the mechanics of old 8 and 16-bit titles are likely to find a lot to like here, even with the issues Dandy & Randy DX has.
It’s an impressive creation given that it’s from such a small team. The beautifully colourful pixel art visuals – and the lovely chiptune soundtrack – are wonderful and instantly appealing; it’s just a shame that the last few levels feel like a bit of a chore.
Dandy & Randy DX is available now on Switch, PS4, PS5, PC and Xbox consoles. Many thanks to PR Hound for providing me with a code for review purposes; the Xbox Series X version was used as the basis of my review.
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