Adventures of Dino Riki, The Review

Developer: Hudson Soft Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Hudson Soft always seemed to dish out great games for the NES when they were doing it. Aside from some of their earlier shooters, I can’t really think of one title that wasn’t good. Some of the most famous series were created at their hands including the Adventure Island games (though the idea was stolen) and Bomberman. At any rate, back while these things were going on, they let loose with an interesting title that everyone seems to think is impossible. It’s not, but it is damn difficult and in my opinion worth a look, let’s check out The Adventures of Dino Riki.

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Graphically, Dino Riki does what it sets out to do. Riki has to run through a series of worlds including a jungle, ruins and a wasteland with various creatures coming from all directions. Riki has this great look to him with a goofy smile and stumpy, constantly flapping little arms. All the animations work fine with some little features here and there to spice things up like dinosaur skeletons that erupt to reveal a large creature that comes rushing at you, as well as volcanoes spewing things and statues that breathe fire. Lots of nice little gimmicks and detail with a color scheme that fits the feel of the game. The third level has this drab, generally green appearance to it that seems a bit off, but overall good job drawn together with some giant bosses. They were all strangely the same color, so I’m going to take a bit off for that but I was happy with the game as a whole.

Dino Riki opens with an excellent, goofy soundtrack to fit the game and then follows it up with some pretty memorable themes for the stages. The first is spectacular and one of the later tunes really sets a fine mood. A few are reused in the final level, but it didn’t bother me enough to want to take points off. The sound effects work well and fit the overall feel of the game, so no problems there either and there are some nice details here and there like the stomping of the T-Rex boss and the buzzing of the Mutant Fly boss.

So what the heck is this game about? Dino Riki is somewhat unique in that it combines two genres of games into one; platforming and shooting. It’s platforming in the sense that you run through the levels like any other game of this nature (Commando comes to mind), getting power ups, dodging hordes of enemies and so forth. But at the same time, the game is continuously moving. In something like Commando, you control the movement, but in this the screen and Riki himself are constantly on the go. You have control over his attacks and where he moves, but the basic movement of the game is beyond your control, so it’s an interesting combination that works well. But what about the details?

Well, you have four levels to go through with four stages each. The first three levels are different, and the fourth involves longer versions of the previous levels set up into separate sections, so you go through a longer and harder level one, followed by two until you get to 4-4 and have to fight the final boss if you don’t die before that. The controls are very responsive and fluid, so more high marks there. Riki can get a variety of power ups that really help the gameplay as well as discover several secrets, including the hidden Macho Riki icon that turns you into a muscle bound freak that throws images of himself at the enemies. This was apparently based on a Japanese wrestler, so it’s kind of interesting. Anyway, one of the great things is that unlike many shooting titles, even though this isn’t purely a shooter, when you progress further it’s still very beatable albeit ridiculously hard. Not hard enough that it requires memorization of enemy positions and every single detail, but enough to give you a challenge should you lose power ups. Fortunately, you are given plenty of chances to gain full strength and return your life bar to its maximum. It has a nice difficulty curve as well that starts at about average and then gets pretty damn hard by the final level, which throws nearly everything you encountered at you. The inclusions of a hit meter and so forth really make for a well-rounded title and if you’re in for a challenge this definitely has it, so I have to say that though not the most spectacular game ever I had a lot of fun with Dino Riki and I think most players would.

For its time Dino Riki has some creative elements to it, but it also draws a bit on that whole caveboy thing that was going on at the time with titles like Wonder Boy and Adventure Island, the latter by Hudson. Still, it’s somewhat fresh even today because there aren’t many titles that successfully combine two different genres. It’s not the most creative game out there and it really won’t wow you with it’s ingenuity, but it’s definitely got some pizzazz to it.

I’ve played Dino Riki plenty of times since my youth and I came back to it on numerous occasions. It’s very easy to pick up and if you’re good enough it’s not too long of a play, clocking in at about half an hour if you can make it through making hardly any mistakes. It takes a lot of practice and is incredibly difficult at times, but this also adds to the replay value and even though you don’t get any ending and the game simply restarts, there’s something satisfying about saying you were able to actually beat it without cheating. The game length is just fine, it’s not too long where you’d have to play it for hours, and if you want to stop to come back later it’s not that taxing to go through the earlier levels again to make it further. Good marks in this category as well.

The Adventures of Dino Riki is a classic title I recommend to any NES fan or anyone who wants to see the early days of Hudson Soft because this is one I frequently mention. For some reason a lot of people that remember it seem to think it’s this incredibly impossible title, but it really isn’t, it just takes some true skill to complete, which makes for a great game in the end. You won’t find the most spectacular action ever, but you’ll definitely find enough, so if you’re just starting out your NES collection or are in the mood for a good, old title, try this one out.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.7
Written by Stan Review Guide

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