A colourful, enjoyable throwback to 16-bit action adventure games, Dandy & Randy DX (which was announced this week – see our ‘Dandy and Randy DX release‘ news article for more details) takes players on an adventure across several distinct areas of a mysterious island.
A Treasure Hunt On The Sunrise Islands
The titular characters have fallen on hard times and – tempted by a conveniently delivered flyer, promising untold riches in the form of a mysterious gem – make their way to the Sunrise Islands in the hope of finding the treasure that’ll get them out of debt.
The game has a wonderful pixel art style, with nicely designed characters – with hidden characters that expand your selection beyond pink duck Dandy and blue rabbit Randy, though the difference is only cosmetic.
A Zelda-esque Equipment Selection
Armed initially with just a shovel – which comes in handy for finding cash hidden beneath the island’s surface – the range of equipment available soon increases, allowing the use of a boomerang, hookshot, hammer and more besides.
These items gradually open up the island to further exploration – the boomerang will allow otherwise inaccessible switches to be hit from a distance, the hammer smashes impassable rocks and the hookshot allows for travel over gaps, for example (it all feels very much like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – check out our list of the Legend of Zelda Games in Order!)
Each island has a distinct visual look, with deserts, mines and frozen tundra all on offer to eventually explore, though they do have to be tackled in order initially.
New areas of the island are unlocked as bosses are defeated; to get to each boss, however, you’ll need to find the four coloured keys that allow access to the gates that lock off access to different parts of each area.
Block Pushing Puzzles Aplenty!
There’s a decent amount of block pushing, as well as light logic puzzles, to solve in the course of making your way through each area, as well as a good variety of well-designed enemies with varied attack patterns.
Interestingly, enemies can’t be defeated with any of the items in your inventory – instead, you’ll be lifting objects up from the floor to throw at them; the same goes for each boss you’ll come across, each of which are nicely designed from a gameplay point of view – and visually varied too. each of which are nicely designed from a gameplay point of view – and visually varied too. It even supports local co-op play, so you can play through the whole game alongside a buddy!
For the most part, Dandy & Randy DX is a breezy, fairly straightforward game that’s a lot of fun to progress through. A few issues rear their heads towards the end of the game, however. WIth no checkpoints to speak of in each area, death will send you back to the beginning of each stage.
The Lack Of Checkpoints Is An Issue
Though the stages aren’t enormous, this can lead to some tedious retracing of steps – as well as going through the motions of pushing blocks around to solve puzzles again, which can be a laborious task; especially if you happen to hit one of the few spikes in difficulty that occur in the latter stages of the game.
You’ll occasionally hit a point where you also have to defeat a boss more than once – and this can be quite a pain to go through again too.
However, once you’ve collected a number of the keys that allow you to unlock the coloured gates on each level, there are ways to make the backtracking and repeating of tasks or combat less of a problem.
Death Is Not The End!
Death sees you losing half of your acquired cash as well as restarting you at the beginning of the stage – though this isn’t too much of a problem, particularly as you get the opportunity to reclaim your cash, which floats around in the spot you died in – it does make buying the (rather overpriced!) items at the in-game shop a bit more of a pain than it needs to be.
The shop does offer a chance to get an item which will respawn you on the same screen you died on, but this only counts once – and with the shop itself only appearing at one particular place in every level, it’s sometimes hard to reach when you need it most. Health related power ups are few and far between too!
A Few Time-Based Puzzles Can Be Frustrating
A few of the puzzles rely on a ridiculously tight level of pixel-perfect speed; though these are few and far between, they definitely cause quite a bit of frustration.
A Game-Breaking Problem
One particularly annoying issue reared its head right a the end of the game – after defeating the second boss on the fifth stage, a crucial gate was locked from one side, meaning that it was impossible to complete the level. This meant restarting again and ensuring that a particular path was taken, but it did feel like a bit of a glaring oversight in a game that lacks checkpoints entirely.
Still, the game itself doesn’t outstay its welcome, with the few aforementioned issues and admittedly rare points of difficulty still only resulting in a game with a play time of a couple of hours. Given the price point, this isn’t an issue at all.
A Short, Fun Homage to 16-Bit Action Adventure Games
With inspiration taken from classic games such as Goof Troop – particularly with the frequent block puzzles (Goof Troop made it to our list of underrated SNES games with good reason!) – and Zelda: A Link to the Past (the inventory consists of items much like those in that 16-bit Zelda game), Dandy & Randy DX is a fun little indie game that’s full of clever touches, has a witty script and an excellent chiptune soundtrack to boot.
Its story is told in a very tongue-in-cheek way and there’s even a twist or two that you definitely won’t see coming.
Though it does let itself down in a few areas, it’s still well worth playing – and if there’s ever a sequel, hopefully the problems are ironed out for a much more satisfying adventure the second time around.
Dandy and Randy DX is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox (the Xbox version was used to review the game). Many thanks to PR Hound for providing the game for review purposes.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.