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The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck (Game Gear) artwork

The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck (Game Gear) review


"It all begins on Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s birthday, as Uncle Scrooge gives each of them a lucky dime as a gift. When the boys inquire why their cheapskate uncle couldn't buy them something good, like BeyBlades or whatever it is kids like, the despicable miser tells them a lame copout tale of his rise to riches from a time when he started out with just one dime (snicker). "



Don't imagine when you see this game for sale somewhere for peanuts that it's the next Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, or even the next Quackshot starring this game's hero, Donald Duck. It's not. It's not even close.

Nary a modicum of the beauty and magic of any of the Castle of Illusion versions can be found in Donald's 8-bit platformer, and the cleverness and challenge offered by his 16-bit forerunner is also lost. Instead of dragons begging to be plunked with little containers, and mysterious temple heights waiting to be accessed with plungers, we are served up a thin slice of nondescript jump and bounce action.

It all begins on Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s birthday, as Uncle Scrooge gives each of them a lucky dime as a gift. When the boys inquire why their cheapskate uncle couldn't buy them something good, like BeyBlades or whatever it is kids like, the despicable miser tells them a lame copout tale of his rise to riches from a time when he started out with just one dime (snicker).

Out of the blue, three ravens descend on the unsuspecting family, and before you can say ''what the duck?'', Magica De Spell shows herself among them and she and her blackbird thugs capture the three boys, their dimes, and Scrooge’s own Lucky Dime. Callous old Scrooge offers a reward to Donald to save his dimes, somehow overlooking the fact that Donald wants to rescue his sons anyway.

To make a game out of it, Magica separates each stolen item and boy. On a rough map, you'll be able to choose one of three locations, each marked by one of the boy's faces. Once these three stages are clear, another three will pop up, marked by the faces of the three thieving ravens. This trio of levels, naturally, contain the dimes belonging to the boys, and like the first three stages, they can be tackled in any order. Finally, when the boys and their coins are safe, a final level represented by Magica's head will appear on the map... and we know what that means: payback time.

Throughout the levels, you'll notice that the graphics are quite bright and colourful, and probably superior in attractiveness to Castle of Illusion for the Master System. But it doesn't feel that way because the scenes are so uninspired and repetitive. During the indoor areas, you don't even know where you are - you just know that you're in a... place. You think to yourself, ''is this a dungeon? A Castle?'' It's usually hard to tell. The opening forest scene (and other outdoor bits), doesn't present that problem though, and playing it will give you some amount of false hope. You'll leap from tree branch to branch and bounce on the heads of various uninteresting enemies. The best parts of the level manifest when beehives scroll onto the screen. You have to be quick about knocking them down with your secondary attack, which is oddly enough, a large mallet.

Later in the game, the mallet can be replaced with a powerful frisbee type weapon if you're lucky enough to have a defeated enemy leave it behind. Enemies, such as a strange person/pig(?) wearing a poncho and sombrero (I'm not kidding), also leave behind stars to extend or replenish your vitality bar, up to a maximum of three notches. The odd extra man will also be available, usually sitting in plain sight.

The obligatory icy level makes an appearance, complete with slippery surfaces and blowing arctic winds. A swampy area invites Donald to traverse its murky waters by way of unstable logs; luckily, falling into the water doesn't kill Donald (he is a duck after all), but showcases a really weak underwater sequence where Donald is defenseless and difficult to control.

In light of all my overwhelmingly negative analysis, I'm happy to say there are a few saving graces for Lucky Dime Caper. The best thing about the game are its tunes. The music is funky and catchy, and will have you more engaged while playing the game than you should be. Unfortunately, the background graphics, as mentioned, seem empty and wholly devoid of anything interesting going on, which is a shame, since the other good thing going for Lucky Dime Caper are its vibrant and welcoming colours.

And it's difficult to say exactly what causes the welcome mat to curl up and retract itself. You get to bounce on enemies and use a mallet and a frisbee, and you get to swim, and brave cold winds and disappearing platforms and bosses such as raging lions... but in the end, none of it seems very interesting. Clearly, the visuals are half there, the music is at least as good as the superb soundtrack featured in Castle of Illusion, and some of the same gameplay mechanics are present.

Your interest, however, will not be. Lucky Dime Caper smells of a game that used a much better platformer's (Castle of Illusion perhaps?) 'template' to crank out something similar, but inevitably soulless. Bland atmosphere equals 'going through the motions', and so your experience with Lucky Dime Caper should be as follows: feel lucky you read this review, so as to have saved your dimes.

Rating: 4/10

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Staff review by Marc Golding (December 09, 2003)

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