Lock up your grandmothers, it's...

Captain Dynamo logo

CODEMASTERS * £7.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Now then, what's all this? Oh, it's a platform game - good heavens above, haven't seen one of those in a while, honest. Who's the hero then? A spiky-haired hedgehog perhaps? A muscle-bound cape clad hunk? A three-legged axe-wielding Peruvian antelope?
No - it's 75-year-old Ernest P "Captain" Dynamo - fresh out of retirement and eager to restore peace and harmony to our humble planet. Or something.

The star of the show may differ form the norm in that he's as old as McDonald's teacake and doesn't actually have any special powers to speak of (unless you count the ability to make those strange clicking sounds with his false teeth that would frighten off even the most fearsome of foes), but let's face it - the scenario doesn't exactly appear to break new ground, does it?

Oh dear, it appears to be a budget game to make matters worse. Doesn't bode well, chums. Well read on, games-playing-type people, you might be surprised.

Here's the brief. Austen Van Flyswatter, mad scientist and would-be world dictator is fed up. He's 72, penniless, and without a suitable pension scheme to see him comfortably through his twilight years.
Lady Phillis Uppenhoofen on the other hand, is most definitely not fed up. She might be 81, but she owns the world's largest diamond collection, so she's laughing. But not for long!

The dastardly Flyswatter steals said diamonds, intending to take them with him to his hiding place on the moon, travelling in his custom-built rocket (of course).
For reasons unspecified, this is unacceptable to the entire human race, and it's up to you, Captain Dynamo, to prevent this impending catastrophe.

Beginning at the bottom of the launch station, or whatever it's called, Captain Dynamo must vertically scroll his way through six levels of the usual conveyors, fireballs et al, in order to reach Flyswatter before he becomes moon-bound.

Old Cappers look pretty good in his helmet and cape (are those carpet slippers on his feet?), belying his crustiness with a fluidity of movement that even a... er, that even a very fluid mover would be proud of.

His can jump, jump higher, duck (not very low mind, due to a bit of a dodgy back), and run in a typical old-man-doesn't-want-to-lose-his-false-teeth type fashion.

Graphically, Dynamo stands bald head and stooped shoulders above the vast majority of budget offerings. Everything is well detailed, if a little samey - the scrolling is good and the joystick controls responsive (steady on, I'm beginning to sound like a proper reviewer).

One little quibble is that there's not really enough on in the early levels to get you riled up - mind you, having said that, it wasn't long before I was sad enough to phone the Codies begging for a cheat (which incidentally they were kind enough to provide - but you'll have to buy next month's issue to find out what it is. Hal).

The sound isn't up to much - one tune playing incessantly throughout the game and nothing at all in the way of FX are the only reminders that the good Captain hails from Budget City.

So there you have it. Dodge the crushers, vault the spikes, avoid random bolts of electricity and the odd psychedelic earthworm, collecting diamonds aplenty on your way to ultimate confrontation with a geriatric madman.

A fun, challenging, tongue-in-cheek-'em-up that at less than a tenner makes a lot more expensive software look daft.

Captain Dynamo logo

CodeMasters * £7.99

Be warned; Captain Dynamo is an old person. As such, his creaky bones don't work quite as well as they used to. So from the start, you're aware that this is no normal platform game. Plot? Well OK, if you want plot, here it is - another oldster, called Flyswatter, has nicked a load of diamonds and sprinkled them around the launch site of a moon-rocket. He intends blasting off in this thing to seek a new lunar life. He seems to have overlooked one small fact: he's bound to die when he arrives (because there's no air in space). But you, as Captain Dynamo, must do your best to collect the diamonds and stop him.

The game is played as a vertical platform affair, with all the 'falling-off-and-dropping-for-miles' hassles that you would expect from such an affair.

The Captain has the ability to bounce high in the air, as well as move cautiously along the booby-trapped platforms. And basically you've got to plug away until you've reached the top.

It's not very inspired, and using an old person is a gimmick that doesn't amuse for very long. But it's nicely done in the traditional Codies cartoon style, so if your eyes aren't what they were you should be OK with it.

What more can I say? It's got everything you'd expect to see in a (CodeMasters) platform game. It's playable, it's nicely thought out and ultimately you'll have seen something like it before, unless you're an old person and have dementia. (Isn't this all a bit ageist? - Ed.)

Mach's nochmal Opi!

Captain Dynamo logo

Solide Hausmannskost für wenig Geld - nach diesem Motto stricken die Codemasters seit jeher ihre Budget-Games. Warum sollten sie ausgerechnet bei dieser Plattform-Arie vom liebgewonnenen Konzept abweichen?

Tun sie auch nicht: Der verrückte Wissenschaftler Austen von Flyswatter hat sich die größte Diamantensammlung der Welt gekrallt und in seiner Festung versteckt. So geht es natürlich nicht, also holt man den rentenreifen Superhelden Captain Dynamo aus dem Altersheim, auf daß er sechs Level lang nach den geklauten Klunkern forsche...

Gottlob ist Super-Opi noch recht rüstig unterwegs, schließlich muß er seine (anfänglich) drei Bildschirmleben völlig unbewaffnet verteidigen.

Der greise Held entert mit erstaunlichem Elan die Plattformen, weicht geschickt den diversen Fallen aus, hangelt sich über Abgründe und trampelt forsch die bedrohlichsten Gegner tot; immer vorausgesetzt, der jugendfrische Spieler vor dem Joystick bzw. der Tastatur stellt sich nicht allzu dämlich an.

Aber warum sollte er, schließlich ist die Steuerung recht zuverlässig ausgefallen und der Schwierigkeitsgrad etwa so niedrig, wie die Spielabschnitte kurz sind.

Neben den Grafikfehlern im Intro ist die lasche Dauermotivation denn auch der Hauptkritikpunkt an diesem Game, das im übrigen sehr ordentlich in Szene gesetzt wurde: Die detailreichen Hintergründe werden sauber gescrollt, sämtliche Sprites (wie etwa niedlich watschelnde Schildkröten) sind witzig gezeichnet und nett animiert.

Dazu kommt eine Begleitmusik, deren Klangqualität leider nicht ganz die angepeilte Dramatik rüberbringt.

Sei's drum, für den sympathischen Preis von lächerlichen 24 Mäusen kann man den Rentner ruhig mal hüpfen lassen. (pb)

Captain Dynamo logo

Code Masters seem to be able to chuck out cute, colourful arcade games at the drop of a hat. None of this two-years-in-development, hype-it-up-and-let-everyonerave-about-it for them, they seem to be happy to just bang 'em out every couple of months without waiting to see whether the last one actually sold or not. It's been a long while since we've seen a real scorcher of a game from the Codies and if this is anything to go by we're going to have to wait just a bit longer.

Austen Von Flyswatter has given up his ideas of becoming a world dictator. It's an overcrowded market and there's only ever one vacancy. In his disgust he has gone on a retreat to the moon, but, being as evil as he is, he's nicked the world's largest diamond collection on his way. Sounds like a job for a superhero, but unluckily they're all on holiday, which means it's a job for (slight fanfare) Captain Ernest P. Dynamo...

Dynamo's been in retirement for a while and it shows, (his middle aged spread's turned to old aged fat), but he speeds to the moon anyway and finds that Flyswatter has spread the diamonds around his lair. He's going to have to get them all back before he goes home, and it'd probably be a good idea to give Von Flyswatter a bit o a seeing to at the same time.

Captain Dynamo's graphic artists seem to have run out of ideas after the first level. It looks quite eye catching at first, with a neat use of shading to create a metallic, dark feel. Unfortunately that's about it. Moving through the levels turns up no variety in the visuals. It's a pity because with a little work they could have really gone to town on the sci-fi thing (well it IS set on the moon).

Dynamo is one of those brave (stupid?) super heroes who never uses weapons, so he has to resort to jumping on all the weird creatures that patrol the caverns. He may be old and fat but you're the one lumbered with getting him through the levels solving the so-called puzzles. Most of these puzzles are limited to timing your jumps right though, so it's hardly brain teasing stuff.

Did I mention the sound? No? There's a good reason for that. It's awful. Make sure you play with the volume right down or your pet cat will join in with a chorus of its own.

Dynamo will undoubtedly appeal to younger players. There are a great many more challenging games out there, they may be a little more expensive but you get what you pay for. Initially this may be fun but it soon gets boring because of the lack of variety in the graphics and action.
Cheap and tacky!

Captain Dynamo logo

Ever wondered what superheroes do when they retire? Jon Sloan has the answer...

Captain Dud would possibly be a better name for this sub-standard platformer. The usual cliched plot involves arch-fiend Austen Von Flyswatter, who has stolen the world's largest diamond collection.

You play doddering superhero Captain Dynamo, called out of retirement to foil Von Flyswatter's evil scheme and retrieve the diamonds. The hoard has been scattered over several booby-trapped levels on the bad-guy's castle which you traverse in an attempt to recover the loot. On the face of it the scene has been set for a potentially enjoyable romp. It's a pity that the game doesn't live up to such expectations.

The central character's sprite is fairly well drawn and animated. I particularly like the way he leaps into the air, à la Superman. The background and platforms gel well with each other and have a good cartoony feel to them.

A useful touch is the regular placement of transporters around the game area which, once activated, are the points to which Dynamo is returned if he loses one of his three lives.

It's at this point that the praise has to stop. Despite the reasonable animation, there is simply not enough happening on screen to make it visually interesting and too few enemy sprites (only three at any one time) for the game to be challenging in the joystick department. Basically, the gameplay becomes too repetitive after a ver short while.

As a budget release this could be one for that wet Wednesday afternoon if you've got absolutely nothing to do. However, perhaps because I've seen this type of game done so much better, I found it rather tired and dated.