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Sega Ages: Dynamite Deka (PlayStation 2) artwork

Sega Ages: Dynamite Deka (PlayStation 2) review

"Because of its crazy atmosphere, diverse weaponry, and deep grappling system, 99% of delinquents agree: Dynamite Deka was, is, and always will be one damn fine brawler. I doubt Sega would have remade the game if it were a notorious ass-sucker. However, the game always suffered from two flaws: it was too short, and it was too easy. Fortunately, Sega's remake does more than replicate past success with fancier graphics."

Makoto Uchida knows brawlers. As the man behind Altered Beast, Alien Storm, Golden Axe, and Dynamite Cop, this busy director's had his cup in the punch bowl since the party started.

Uchida's latest project, Sega Ages: Dynamite Deka, is more than a graphically-updated port of 1996's Die Hard Arcade. Much more! With gameplay elements, musical tracks, and visual designs inspired by all of the above games, as well as Wing War (another Uchida game) and Alien Front (yet another Uchida game), one could even call it the ultimate ode to Uchida.

However, with all due respect to the millions upon millions of Uchida super-fans, I'd never even heard of the guy. I bought this PS2 remake because ONE (1) all of the recent Sega Ages discs have been awesome, and TWO (2) Die Hard Arcade was one bad-ass brawler from the very beginning.

Since this is the unlicensed Japanese knock-off, it stars Bruno Dellinger, a dynamite detective who looks strikingly similar to John McClane. THAT'S NOT BRUCE WILLIS ON THE COVER. HONEST. As in the decade-old Saturn game, Bruce Bruno beats and shoots his way through several stories of a really tall corporate headquarters... in this case, to rescue the President's hideous daughter, Caroline Yoko Powel. Caroline's trapped inside the capitalistic tower of greed with a terrorist named Wolf Hongo, whose goofily exaggerated expressions of fury, dismay, and orgasmic joy are the stuff of fansite legend.

Whether players hunt money-hungry Wolf in the retro "Saturn" mode or in the high-res "Enhanced" mode, the core gameplay delivers the same crazy action. Pissed-off punks trip over rolls of toilet paper, malicious firemen ferociously douse the hero's blood-soaked body, and Bruno blows hunks of burnin' love out of Elvis impersonators with an anti-tank rifle. In case hurling grandfather clocks or scorching corrupt cops with aerosol flamethrowers gets dull, there's a surprisingly deep hand-to-hand combat engine, offering such techniques as the ever-popular crotch kick and lariat bulldog. Adding to the game's silliness hyper-realism, Bruno keeps losing bits of clothing as he advances up the tower. Kind of like that Bruce guy from that one movie.

Psycho Mantis Tip: "Plug PS2 controller into port 2 to lose clothing as sexy female!"

Because of its crazy atmosphere, diverse weaponry, and deep grappling system, 99% of delinquents agree: Dynamite Deka was, is, and always will be one damn fine brawler. I doubt Sega would have remade the game if it were a notorious dud. However, the game always suffered from two flaws: it was too short, and it was too easy. Fortunately, Sega's remake does more than replicate past success with fancier graphics. When you're tired of playing cops and robbers, there are plenty of additional modes, each stuffed with their own special gimmicks and surprising situations.

Ax-Battler mows Death Adder down with a machine-gun!

SURPRISE! In the Easy Mode, you get to play as characters from Golden Axe! This is primarily a cosmetic change, although Sega added a bunch of new weapons, including "Gilius Thunderhead" statues, perfect for shattering against the steel exoskeletons of robotic spiders. With its fish-out-of-water mentality, Easy Mode is an often-hilarious twist on the basic game that also serves as a clever homage to one of the classics that guaranteed Makoto Uchida's continued employment. More good news: Tyris Flare still has a sexy butt.

"Sega Saturn... Shiro!" ["Play Sega Saturn!"]

For those of you unfamiliar with the gaming icon known as Segata Sanshiro, pull up a chair and prepare for a tale that would make even Ken Kutaragi weep tears of tragedy.

Segata Sanshiro was a famous judo master who spread the name of Sega throughout all of Japan. As demonstrated in a series of documentary-styled commercials, he routinely beat the devil out of anyone who wasn't devotedly playing the Saturn. Inspired by his message (and judo flips), children promised: "I will never play outside again!"

Unfortunately, despite Segata Sanshiro's best efforts, Sony's PlayStation would eventually prove more powerful than the Saturn. While Sega struggled to get back on their feet, their diabolical rival invoked the ultimate attack a nuclear missile aimed squarely at Sega's corporate headquarters. So dastardly but all was not lost! As shown in his final commercial, Segata Sanshiro rose from the Saturn's ashes like a gaming Messiah. In a noble act of selflessness, matched only by the valiant sea otter who protected Adam West and Burt Ward from an incoming torpedo, judo master Segata Sanshiro met his tragic end when he flew into the sky and single-handedly stopped that incoming Sony ICBM from destroying Sega's HQ. Thanks to his sacrifice, the Dreamcast was born. He may no longer be with us physically, but Segata Sanshiro lives on in our hearts.

He also lives on in Dynamite Deka, because Sega employs diabolical necromancers who thought it would be funny to play as Segata Sanshiro in a Sony PS2 game. Alas, the re-animated judo master doesn't live for long, because you're only given a few minutes to complete the challenging Deadline Mode. When time runs out, a bomb goes off and Segata Sanshiro explodes. It's a tough twist on the game that won't easily be conquered, and it's a clever homage to one of Sega's most memorable marketing campaigns. In Japan. Sega of America's marketing for the Saturn was quite forgettable.

Rise from your grave!

Since they were already resurrecting dead legends, Sega called on Zeus to bring the Altered Beast back for Dynamite Deka's Altered Beast Mode. This variant features a completely revamped soundtrack as well as a special "soul system", in which the beast's slowly-depleting lifebar can only be replenished by MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING STREET PUNKS. With dark visuals and the constant threat of death, Altered Beast mode is an oppressive and difficult quest that I still haven't finished. Not bad for a disc that could have just been a quick money-grubbing port.

Sega's taken a fun but short-lived brawler and added two things it sorely lacked: replay value and challenge. The impressive part is that Sega expanded the game in ways that enhanced its already-awesome atmosphere and diversity. Even after all of those clever gameplay tweaks, Sega Ages: Dynamite Deka still has more to offer, such as special internet codes that lead to art galleries, goofy downloadable wallpapers, and the developer's personal journal. It's a phenomenal remake, and it's the reason I now know Makoto Uchida's name.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (September 05, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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