Version tested: Retro
A game that suffered greatly during its time in the charts due to persistent Jet Set Willy comparisons, Dynamite Dan was still very much its own game. In fact, these comparisons were dichotomously accurate and unfair. Clearly inspired by Smith’s hallucinogenic miner-based nightmare, Dynamite Dan mutated the familiar concept of JSW and veered it back toward the mainstream; introducing more recognisable and accepted gaming staples while maintaining the new look of colourful, detailed and expansive Speccy platforms.
Taking a sly elbow in the ribs from the new (and god awful) Bond film of ’85, the heroic Dan lands on the roof of a stereotypically evil doctor, it’s up to him to infiltrate his future nemesis’ lair of iniquity to rescue some kind of maiden fair and destroy the facility as part of some dramatic exit.
To do this, players must scour the impressively large and well laid out mansion of the nefarious Dr. Blitzen and his minion, Donner (although that’s as far as the Chrimbo references go), and find eight sticks of cleverly secreted dynamite. To keep the gameplay fresh, the location of the TNT is randomised; a nice feature that we might expect in our games today, but in 1985 was a gracious touch that could extend the longevity a great deal.
While comparable to Willy’s mansion, Dr. Blitzen’s evil hideout is a particular pleasure to explore and far more believable as a place of domicile (even though it’s apparently cylindrical, since the rooms at either far side are connected). Making extensive use of colour and incorporating much larger sprites than most previous platformers had managed, Dynamite Dan never quite became the heroic franchise he deserved to be. To top it all off, Mirrorsoft offered to take the first person to phone in and tell them the title of end-game music for a ride on its airship.
7 / 10