The Destruction of Spondylus

A little-spoken-of NES game, Dynowarz combines platform-hopping with mechanical dinosaur warfare and ends up with a moderately fun, though none too innovate, title.

Having sold this game some time ago (and just recently buying it again), I don't recall the exact plot, but I believe it has something to do with your character (a scientist) fighting off an alien infestation with the help of his mechanical vehicle, which of course bears a strong resemblance to a dinosaur, thus the title. While this game doesn't tread much new ground, it does a decent job of  providing entertainment value nonetheless.

Pictured above is a typical room from the game, where the scientist must defeat some enemies with his three-directional pistol while braving hazards such as spiked floors and moving platforms. The strange-looking enemies (I always figured them to be some kind of floating hand, a la the Floormasters of Zelda fame) generally serve as little more than cannon fodder, though they do tend to be difficult to hit due to their erratic movement patterns and sometimes awkward placement. Fortunately, your character's excellent leaping ability made fleeing to the next room an easy task in case the enemies got too irritating.

Occasionally, defeating the enemies would yield power-ups, in the form of small capsules with letters on them. The "E" capsules restore your character's Energy to full, while the "P" capsules would increase your weapon's capacity, allowing it to have more bullets onscreen at a time, up to nine at once. Finally, there were the rare "B" capsules, which would restore the Barrier bar to full, effectively doubling the amount of damage one could sustain.

With his trademark 20-foot leap, the scientist prepares to board the Dyno

Very anime-ish, hmm?

After a few screens, you'd reach the dino-bot and hop in , thus beginning the second portion of the game. It was essentially the same, except that you now commanded the dino-bot, which was a bit less mobile than its pilot but made up for it with some interesting abilities (and better stage music).

The 'satellite' at the top of the screen could be activated to destroy all onscreen enemies by pressing Select. Its usefulness was limited, however, by the fact that it only worked in the first section of each dyno stage. Great way to get rid of those pesky pterodactyls, though.

As the stage opens, your dyno is stuck fighting off enemies with a short-ranged Punch. By defeating larger enemy dinos, such as the green critter in the above screenshot, items would drop. Collecting these items would result in collecting more advanced weaponry, including fireballs, lasers, and even a weapon that launches your dino's fist across the screen, causing it to boomerang and fly back a moment later. Each weapon had three levels of power, which would not only increase the damage it inflicts but also sometimes caused it to have different effects. The fist would fly quicker, for example, and the laser would fire several beams at a time, as opposed to just one.

Each dyno stage would end with a battle against a pallette-swapped enemy dino, who was a lot more durable than his buddies and had the annoying trait of quickly dashing around every time he took a hit. Generally, though, these guys were pretty easy, and it was just a matter of time and bullets before they dropped the key to the next level.

A 23rd century key. Note the ingenius anti-theft feature; the key weighs roughly 2300 lbs

The next level would drop you right back to the role of the Scientist, though from that point on each stage consisted of getting to the end and taking out a Mother Brain-ish foe who pelted the room with green spores. The manual's description read "computer virus," if I recall correctly, and it seems to be pretty accurate- it looks just like a novelty-sized cold germ.

These duels were normally long and tedious, but since I first played this game as a nine-year-old kid with too much free time, I discovered an exploit; if one leapt inside the tank itself and crouched down, they could blast the virus repeatedly while remaining safe from harm.

Aren't loopholes fun?

After that was said and done, you made your way back the way you came to the dino-bot, at which point the next 'dino' stage began. This continued for about 7 more levels, each stage getting progressively longer and longer, though not really any more difficult. Dynowarz's repetition does get tiring after you've played for about an hour or so; thankfully, Bandai included a password feature, so that you could quit and resume at a later point if you really wanted to see the end.

All in all, a pretty decent game, most notably on the visual and audio end. Since this game is pretty common at used game shops, I'd deem it worthy of a $5 purchase.

Rating: 6/10
One-line synopsis: Not too bad of a game, though you may lose interest before reaching the end due to the heavily recycled room layouts and enemies.

©2003 Spoony