Candygun’s Dollar Dash owes a massive debt to the long-running Bomberman series. Instead of cartoony robots blowing each other to bits with comically large bombs, it features cartoony robbers blowing each other to bits with comical weapons to obtain large stacks of cash. This wholesale borrowing of Bomberman’s main theme isn’t highway robbery, but don’t expect Dollar Dash to make you an offer you can’t refuse.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Candygun Games
Genre: Multiplayer Crime Spree Simulator
Release Date: March 6, 2013 (PC, XBLA), March 20, 2013 (PSN)
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Like Bomberman, Dollar Dash is played in an overhead perspective as the four robbers (they can be human characters, bots, or some combination of both) attempt to collect enough loot to retire to a beach with Hans Gruber and the gang. The game includes three different modes: the titular Dollar Dash mode tasks the thieves with collecting money and dropping it off at the getaway van, Hit ‘n’ Run is the most Bomberman-like as the bandits must knock each other out with a variety of weapons, and Save the Safe is a capture-the-flag mode where whoever holds onto the safe the longest wins.
Candygun has packed the game with a huge number of maps, each with unique features like patrolling guards, hidden booby traps, or environmental hazards (watch out for that train!). The maps are fantastic. They’re full of color and I love the unique stamp Candygun has put on each one. However, they’re tiny, probably to ensure the included four-player local multiplayer works. But it’s probably better that the maps are small as your thief will move painfully slow through them. In fact, he moves so slow that he may as well be wearing cement shoes. The game really only feels like it moves at regular speed when you use the sneakers powerup.
Let’s talk about those powerups for a minute. Dollar Dash arms its robbers with a ton of weapons sorted into three different classes. Projectile weapons such as baseballs, plungers, and Molotov cocktails are controlled with the Right Trigger. Dropped weapons such as bombs (yes, really), beer barrels (inverts opponent’s controls), and boomboxes (knocks back your opponent) are controlled with B. Finally, defensive weapons like the aforementioned sneakers, a teleportation move, and an invisibility cloak are controlled with X. Knowing which powerup goes with which button on the controller is key to the success of your criminal career. And it’s not the easiest thing to pick up at first.
If you’re weaponless, you can use the Right Trigger to punch your opponents in the face. In Dollar Dash mode, any hit you suffer will cause your thief to drop a stack of money. So while the punch is a good way to keep every player in the game, money changes hands much too easily in Dollar Dash mode.
You probably don’t want to go around punching too many people as Dollar Dash doesn’t include a single-player campaign. The only single-player option is to select a map and a gameplay mode and load it with bots. I realize a “campaign” is nothing more than a guided tour of the maps, but how hard could it have been for Candygun to string together a pre-made circuit of maps and game types? After borrowing so liberally from Bomberman, it was a bit surprising that this is where they drew the line. So without a single-player mode, Dollar Dash is the kind of game that will live and die by its online audience (especially since the bots are almost impossible to beat on normal settings).
Thankfully, online play works well as all three game modes are pretty enjoyable with a room full of human opponents. Collecting cash, knocking opponents out, or holding on to that safe all play out in a game that feels more lively than against AI opponents (they’re so tough that they feel almost robotic).
Strangely, Dollar Dash likes to hide a lot of information from the people playing it. Each bandit has a health bar that keeps track of how many hits they have left before being knocked out, but it’s a tiny dot that hovers directly underneath your character. Also, the money sack on each robber’s back in Dollar Dash mode only has two settings: empty and full. Even if you’ve got $900 in there, the bag will look empty. But collecting that last $100 pushes it to full. It makes it hard to decide when to go for the getaway car. There’s also an overall level progression system (from Street Thug to Enforcer all the way up to God), but there’s no option in the menu to see how far you are from the next level. Little annoyances like these will continue to pile up during every Dollar Dash session.
Dollar Dash is fun for an afternoon or maybe even a whole weekend, but as soon as you put it away it’s unlikely you’ll feel the pull to play it again. And all the tiny cracks in the gameplay (especially the slowness of the characters) can turn individual matches into slog on a dime. Give it a look if you love Bomberman, but otherwise, drop your dimes on a different game.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Dollar Dash was provided by Kalypso Media for the purposes of this review.