Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Three Dirty Dwarves - Healthy Punches



When you want a unique title for the Saturn and just want to wail on something with improvised weapons, look no further than Three Dirty Dwarves. This is one of the stranger games on the Sega Saturn for many reasons. For one, it’s a Sega Saturn exclusive for no discernable reason. In fact, Segasoft planned to port it to the Playstation, it simply never happened. Then comes the fact that it is a 2D beatem up with varied 3-Dimensional qualities scattered throughout. Then there comes the real kicker, it’s just plain bananas, crackers and nuts! 


We follow three very strange dwarves as they travel the city, beating the snot out of random foes in a roleplaying game that comes to the real world. The roleplaying game is controlled by genius children and they use the dwarves to try and find them to rescue them but the monsters and enemies also come to the wor--look, it’s just a very strange setting and plot. Suffice to say that you’re beating things up. There are things from giant trolls covered in dogs to buildings with legs that jump high into the sky to try and land on you. It’s very strange in just about every way.

The gameplay is unique in that you only control one of the dwarves at a time. You have the ability to swap between the dwarves at will to use their various attack styles. Some are faster with less damage and slower with more, and so on and so forth. However, then there are the lives system, which is very strange all on its own. You gain lives and build them up across the level (the three-life pickup is a 20-sided dice for all of the rpg players out there) but if you run out of lives, your dwarves get knocked out on the first hit. Once they are knocked unconscious, though, all you have to do is hit them to revive them. As they get hit, you can just keep bringing them up, but once all three are knocked out, you restart the current level. 



The hit detection is probably one of the low points of the game, as you have a bit of a hard time lining up the ranged shots as well as getting a bead on the melee hits. This, of course, is easily overcome with practice and getting a feel for the overall gameplay. Your attacks get a bit tedious with the delay once you hit the button, and turning can also be delayed, which can be a problem when there are multiple enemies on the screen. Yeah, like any other beatem up, this is not new. Again, it’s easily overcome.

There has been a lot of talk about the graphics and the art style during the cutscenes, though. They are said to be too gritty and crude in their outlook, and yeah, they are. Well, folks, that was the point. The artwork is very reminiscent of early Nickelodeon or MTV cartoons in the 90’s and in that form, it pulls it off exceedingly well. I was never able to track down any real info on the artists, other than a few of their other works, but their style is dead-on to what it tried to emulate. 



The real problem with the game lies in its repetitive nature, much like any other beatem up. Yes, it has character for days and it also has a lot of its own qualities that sets it apart. However, it also reuses a lot of the same mechanics throughout each level just a few too many times in some cases. Some of the levels seem like they go on for just a bit too long. This, however, is definitely not a deal breaker.

The characters and the outlandish qualities are really what sell this title. The funny, absurd qualities do not let up throughout the whole thing and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. If you love beatem ups and don’t feel like playing the usual gathering, give this one a second look. Just remember to hydrate your dwarves.

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