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Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (Arcade) artwork

Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (Arcade) review

"C&D is a monstrous freak, imprisoned in the cage of the side-scrolling beat-em-'up. The difference between this one and its more popular peers is its unrelenting willingness to be absolutely out of its mind. Any boundaries in the odd or hilarious set by Final Fight or Streets of Rage, C&D ignores with reckless abandon. The result is a title made wholly satisfying by its own outrageous spectacle."

Final Fight (1989).
. . .
The King of Dragons (1991).
. . .
The Punisher (1993).
. . .
Captain Commando (1991).
. . .
Captain America & The Avengers (1991).

That’s a pretty solid list of beat-em-‘ups, from the period in which they thrived. Capcom is responsible for every game on the list; perhaps the only significant members of the genre they didn’t make are Double Dragon and Streets of Rage.

They’re also responsible for the little-known Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.

I have a disturbing infatuation with beat-‘em-ups. I don’t want to send the wrong message about myself, but I just can’t get enough of taking the role of some bizarrely enraged hero and systematically kicking the asses of an army of bizarrely named and bizarrely outfitted street toughs. This action, and the hilarious situations, characters and dialogue that come with it, give me a good deal of enjoyment.

. . . Please, don’t pity me.

Pity instead yourself if you haven’t played (or even heard of) CADILLACS AND DINOSAURS. Here's a game that would powerbomb Streets of Rage into britches-dirtying submission. Here's a game that would finish what Kingpin started in The Punisher, eliminating Frank Castle with a remorseless bazooka blast to the face. Here's a game that may even outlast the righteous Final Fight in a twelve-round, toe-to-toe war. So it goes.

C&D is a monstrous freak, imprisoned in the cage of the side-scrolling beat-em-'up. The difference between this one and its more popular peers is its unrelenting willingness to be absolutely out of its mind. Any boundaries in the odd or hilarious set by Final Fight or Streets of Rage, C&D ignores with reckless abandon. The result is a title made wholly satisfying by its own outrageous spectacle.


EAST COAST, 2513. . .

Originally a comic titled Xenozoic Tales and an animated series that lasted a tragically short one season (based on what’s here, I’m thinking it could have ran for at least a decade), C&D offers us an eerily plausible premise. History meets future after a devastating cataclysm, creating a world where man and dinosaur coexist. Half-sunken cityscapes are home to an underworld akin to that of Final Fight, as pterodactyls fly overhead and prehistoric carnivores scatter the land. Also, the heroes drive a Cadillac.

Maybe “eerily plausible” was a bit much.

Anyhow, the real problem is that bad people are making these dinosaurs aggressive by abusing them -- you’ll come across (and brutally bludgeon) countless poachers in your travels, and the shady scientific research being conducted by the maniacal Dr. Fessenden certainly needs to be put to a stop! Cross the arid deserts and the dangerous jungles, single-handedly reducing the poacher population to zero as you uncover more of the mad doctor’s plans! Who is up for such a wacky undertaking? It’s time to meet. . .

For those about to rock, we salute you!


Part mechanic, part shaman



Diplomat and Explorer



Engineer and Jack's friend



Elusive Past


Our motley crew alone serves as a source of amusement richer than you could have possibly hoped for – never before has the genre seen such incredible protagonist profiles. Jack T., whose shirt can barely contain his pectorals, is PART MECHANIC, PART SHAMAN! Is that even possible? Mustapha Cairo is a more humble figure: while Hannah Dundee calls herself diplomat and explorer, Cairo is an engineer, but perhaps more importantly, “Jack’s friend.” . . . I’m done, promise. It just needs to be understood that this is the type of thing that makes beat-‘em-ups endearing.

C&D is similarly over-the-top in every other aspect. Gone are the Dugs and Andores of Final Fight -- say hello to Ferris, Gneiss, Razor, and the token obese bull-charge guys, Hammer T. and Wrench T. An awesome thing about this game is the weapons, especially the availability of guns. There’s nothing like finding a shotgun or an uzi in a barrel and plugging HAMMER T. a few times. You can grab a grenade and throw it at a pack of ruffians -- if it hits one of ‘em head-on, the guy will EXPLODE INTO BLOODY GUT CHUNKS. When you’re handed a BAZOOKA when you run out of lives and have to continue, it makes the occasional lead pipe offered by other brawlers seem a little vanilla. It’s not like you won’t be putting these arms to good use – Jack T., Mess O., and the gang will be consistently bombarded with enemies approaching in packs, others dropping in from the skies, and still more jumping in, tossing some knives or dynamite sticks, and bailing just as quickly.

And there’s no way to really even get across how hilarious (and intense!) your confrontations with the stage bosses will be. C&D never lets up – these face-offs are introduced with weirdly appropriate dialogue, and all-too-brief cutscenes fall between levels. Between stages one and two, you’re given a warning. . .


Of course this means our hero’s first reaction is to stride briskly into the Northern Woods to the tune of fast-paced synthesizer tracks, where he’ll find this fiend, a hideous, overweight bald guy in skin-tight purple pants and a red tank top. He’s not just standing around, waiting for Jack’s arrival – he’s absolutely brutalizing a small dinosaur, hacking it to pieces with a pair of three-foot blades.

Jack T.: Oh, gross! This time you’ve gone too far slimeball!
Butcher: XXXX YOU!

. . . Did that just happen? Put this sicko out his misery, and bask in a modest celebration:


I would have bet on C&D eventually slowing down, but it just keeps firing missiles – episode (stage) 3, appropriately dubbed “HELL ROAD,” places you at the beginning of a vast desert expanse, packed with hoards of thugs. You’re led to thinking, “A never-ending stretch of bland desert to trudge through? No thanks!” This game’s got more brains than that – another member of the team shows up in the treasured Cadillac!


You’re allowed to speed across the flatlands in your Caddie, running down a hundred henchmen in the process. It even lets you begin the boss fight with motorcycle ruffian HOGG while still in the car -- this high-speed battle will see you trying to ram him while he flips grenades into the air!

The next situation you’re thrown into always seems to top the last – this fever pitch continues right up through the episode 8 finale with Dr. Fessenden, which you’ll have to see to believe. It is amazing to me that Cadillacs and Dinosaurs never reached the popularity of the other Capcom beat-em-‘ups – the lack of Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis ports probably played a role in its relative obscurity. It’s a shame – what’s offered here is some of the genre’s finest action, with swarms of enemies, hilarious and hideous boss encounters, and a ton of weaponry at your disposal. Final Fight and Streets of Rage are irreplaceable, and this one doesn’t push them into the shadows – it just gently nudges them into sharing the beat-‘em-up spotlight.

C&D is downright aggressive in its absurdity; this is its most redeeming quality.



dogma's avatar
Staff review by K T (May 12, 2005)

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