Review: Dollar Dash is fun in short bursts, but could rob you of fun over time
I’m having a hard time reviewing Dollar Dash. Candygun Games and Kalypso Media have put together a game that, at its best, is as close to a Bomberman killer as it can get. However, at its worst, it will have you playing a few matches in boredom. When I played it at E3 in 2012, it was one of the games I enjoyed the most. For the half an hour I played it, the four-player matches were fast, action-packed and induced shouts and cheers from those playing. It was difficult to not enjoy it. Now the game has launched, and while the fun was still had at times, prolonged exposure to Dollar Dash has unearthed the problem with the game – depth.
The premise behind Dollar Dash is simple. Four players battle it out on over 30 maps, collecting cash to be deposited into periodic get-away vans. Your goal is to reach a certain amount of cash – using power-ups to protect you, or weapons to make your enemies drop their cash – before anyone else. The more cash you’re holding, the slower you move. It’s all very simple. At times, it’s refreshing that something so simple can be so much fun, but that simplicity also makes prolonged play get stale.
The problem here is that Dollar Dash is great fun when you’re playing with friends and people you know, but when you aren’t, it struggles to hold your attention. Playing with stranger is just not the same experience. Two other modes accompany the main Dollar Dash mode. Hit ‘n’ Run is the weakest of the three; it has you running around, just hitting the other players. There’s no cash to pick up, as you get cash for every wailing on your opponents. The third mode is Save the Safe. It has players trying to hold onto a safe as long as you can; as you hold onto it longer, you progress along a points meter until you reach the end. The problem is that the person holding the safe can pick up just as many power-ups as the thieves without the safe. Unfortunately, since the game sports drop-in, drop-out gameplay, I often got placed into a match that was over almost as soon as I joined it. Also, an encounter I often had was that players that were too far behind to have a chance at winning often just stood in the corner of the map until the match was over.
A component that is sorely missed is a single-player mode. I don’t mean the custom matches where you can face bots – it’s nice that the option to play against bots is in there, but there’s no story, campaign or anything of the sorts to accompany all of the multiplayer battles. A real single-player mode would have added a wealth of value to Dollar Dash.
That said, the multiplayer action is fast and gets crazy. Luckily, the simple twin-stick shooter control scheme holds up to the action.
Dollar Dash continues the ‘simplistic’ theme in its graphics and sound. With bright palette of colors making up its cartoonish look, the maps really pop and come alive. At times, it can have a painted look to it, adding to the setting. There’s nothing amazing about the effects on the power-ups and traps, however. The jazzy music with deep bass riffs will truly make you feel like a thief from the Tinsel Town, Hollywood era.
If you’re worried about character customization, don’t fret. As you play across the three game modes – and even against bots – you keep the cash you earn during each match. As you collect more and more cash and win matches, you unlock store items to customize your Thief. These include different taunts and dances, hats, hair styles, beards, accessories and more. You can also buy perks that affect the power-ups you use in matches. For instance, one makes your taser have a longer reach, and another makes you able to hold more cash at once. Once again, there’s not a lot of depth to it, but at least it gives you a goal.
Dollar Dash is a tale of two games. When playing with friends or people you know, it can be a great party game, played for maximum enjoyment in short bursts. The fun I had playing it at E3 is still there. I can see it being a great game on the PS Vita for on-the-go play. Unfortunately, as with most small multiplayer games, there’s not a ton of depth to keep you playing it outside of with friends here and there. There’s definite value in Dollar Dash if you’re looking for a game with quick multiplayer matches to kill time here and there, but there’s not much more than that.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]