Scrapyard Dog for the Atari 7800 Prosystem Review!
I've heard a lot of people complain about the momentum in Scrapyard Dog. They say that the character gains too much speed and runs head first into obstacles with little reaction time for the player. And while this is true, I really think these people don't give Scrapyard Dog a fair chance. It's a flawed game, but one that I really ended up enjoying! It could've never competed with the likes of Super Mario or even Sonic the Hedgehog when he came about, but I think Scrapyard Dog is a better game than most people would give it credit for. It's not for everybody, so lets see if its a game you might enjoy.
There are Piano mini games, hidden rooms, and stores ran by this fine looking gentleman to visit in Scrapyard Dog!
The graphics are just plain unappealing. The main character is silly looking at best and just plain ugly at worst. The levels suffer much of the same fate, which is a shame. None of the graphics are really bad, but having a game take place in junkyards, alleyways and sewers, especially while Nintendo is taking players to magical Mushroom Kingdoms and fairy tale lands makes Scrapyard Dog even more unappealing. It would've been nice to see our hero move on from the initial dirty real world environments and find himself on a larger than life adventure. But all we get are the same 3 level designs over and over. It's really a shame when you get to the last junkyard that feels like it takes place high in the sky, and the warehouse level, because that's when you start to see what Scrapyard Dog really could've been.
The sound doesn't fair any better than the graphics in my honest opinion. The same song plays through the adventure and it's not the best tune you've ever heard. It can even get a bit on the annoying side, and the only time you'll hear something different is when our hero dies. The sound effects themselves are generic and suffer the same complaints that I have with the music. If this game was trying to be the hit platformer that the 7800 desperately needed at the time, then they really should've invested in a Pokey chip for the cartridge.
I hope you like the look of these backgrounds, because your going to be staring at them a lot!
The gameplay gets the most criticism from my peers, and this is where I disagree with them. When you first start playing you'll want to take your character and rush him head first through the level as fast as you can. But you can't really do that when your just beginning. You have to take your time through the levels and give yourself time to react to enemies. Yes, its true that the controls initially seem to be all wrong for that style of game, but once you get to the sewer levels you'll start to see why the momentum is needed. There are some skilled platforming and a few leaps of faith that the game expects of you. And after a lot of trial and error I actually found myself successfully flying through early levels and making long jumps in rapid succession. The game felt rewarding and fun to control after I invested the time to learn it! It's a trial and error type of game, and while people are less likely to forgive it today, back in its time this wasn't so unheard of. Playing a game and making it a little further each time was how we got good. Still, they should've probably let you hold down a button to run faster and gain momentum so that you had better control over your character.
So the first few levels aren't a good indication of what the game is truly like, but I found myself having a lot of fun here once I took the time to understand the game. I do feel that there should've been some bosses at the end of each world, and the final boss is more than just a let down, but there is still a good game here. There are bonus rooms, a piano mini game and stores that you venture into, but these can usually be safely ignored. You have to be willing to learn how Scrapyard Dog controls and how the enemies act and react to you. Once you have that down, you might be surprised at how much fun can be had here. It's a flawed genius that is oh so familiar on the Prosystem!
The title screen wouldn't look bad because the dog is actually pretty cute. But this guy has one ugly mug!
I make it a policy that I don't post reviews until I have completed the game at least once (if the game can be completed that is), until I have a solid grasp on the gameplay,, and until I feel I've seen all there is to see. Because of that policy I think I've gotten more from this game than other critics did. But it's not for everybody. You have to be willing to play by Scrapyard Dogs rules. If you do, you'll find that the momentum has a purpose and it actually works well for what they were going for. For how much fun I had with Scrapyard Dog, it made it all the worse that it sounds and looks so bland. With that said, if you don't want to give Scarpyard Dog the time to grow and expand its world to you, then I would just skip this one.
The Ugly Box Art!
Graphics: 5 out of 10
You can tell what everything is supposed to be but the game just looks bland and unappealing. The same 3 environments repeat over and over which was a mistake.
Sound: 4 out of 10
They really dropped the ball with the sound design. I think this game deserved the Pokey treatment, especially if it was to compete with Super Mario.
Gameplay: 6 out of 10
It takes some time to get the hang of, but I find the gameplay to not only be rewarding, but I think it works well. Less leaps of faith would've been nice though. And you can skip the piano mini games and extra stuff without really losing any of the experience.
Fun: 8 out of 10
I ended up having a lot of fun with this one once it got going. While it won't be for everybody, I think those who do give it a shot will be surprised at how much fun they can have.
Value: 7 out of 10
One thing is for sure, you will get a lot of play time out of this one! I've played it quite a bit, and I didn't mind repeating early levels to get further once I learned how to play. You get a free continue for each world, but after that you'll need a lot of cash to keep the game going.
Overall: 6 out of 10 GOOD!
It gets a low good for me, but it will easily slip down to a 5 out of 10 (Bad) score for others. It is not a poorly programmed game and they did put thought into utilizing the momentum that your character builds. It probably would've worked better if you held down a button to run and gain momentum, but it still works for what it is. But some people won't be able to look past the trial and error gameplay present here.