Don’t do the crime even if you have the time
In a market oversaturated by multiplayer, producing a game—regardless how competently it may be made—defined entirely by and for which the fun factor hinges exclusively on that aspect strikes me as unwise. More often than not, these titles struggle not because of inherent design flaws, but because they depend on the quantity and quality of the social experience needed.
This, ultimately, is what cripples Dollar Dash.
I can only think of two viable scenarios in which I’d actively want to play Dollar Dash. The first is if it were an iOS or Android title—something that only costs $1 or $2, and that a group of friends could play while waiting in line for a movie. Alternatively, I could see it being part of an indie bundle—four or five games sold for 15 bucks. Otherwise, the only scenario in which Dollar Dash will ever shine is by tapping into the nostalgia of Bomberman 64’s multiplayer through couch co-op. Dollar Dash is a game best enjoyed while having at least three friends over. It is a game best enjoyed while knocking back a few beers and reveling in socialization that complements group gaming. In a vacuum, Dollar Dash fails to impress.
To be fair, this cel-shaded, arcadey caper is not a bad game. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with it. It’s just not any fun to play alone. There’s no single-player campaign—only the local and online multiplayer. So, without having company over or without an active player base online, I was left to go toe-to-toe with bots in matches that were often long, tedious, and repetitive. There’s certainly enough variety—10 stages, a healthy collection of weapons and power-ups, and three stock game modes—but no incentive to explore any of it alone. One can only run around depositing dollars into getaway vans while mindlessly mugging computerized competitors for so long.
Perhaps if Dollar Dash possessed a single-player campaign, the comparisons to Bomberman would feel more appropriate. By design, this hokey, heist-themed title certainly lends itself to a single-player experience. I can very easily imagine having fun navigating maze-like environments to pull off a robbery while avoiding the heat. But without a series of solo runs to slip into, Dollar Dash never amounts to more than a quirky title that, by name, sounds like a silly game show parody. But like game shows, players need another person to compete against. Going mano-a-roboto with Watsons and Deep Blues is a novelty, and the AI in Dollar Dash can hardly be compared to those supercomputers.
So, I ask: If a game only possesses multiplayer, but no one is around to play it, can it still be good?
No. Not really.
|Developer: Candygun Games • Publisher: Kalypso Media• ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and older • Release Date: 03.06.2013|
|5.0||The math for Dollar Dash to be fun is there, but the numbers don’t add up. One crucial variable was unaccounted for: other interested parties.|
|The Good||Arguably fun, arcadey gameplay that riffs on Bomberman in a good way.|
|The Bad||The noticeable absence of single-player to flesh this title out.|
|The Ugly||How without that single-player, the fun factor depends on multiplayer sessions that will quickly grow tiresome.|
|Dollar Dash is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), and PC. Primary version reviewed was for XBLA.|