Johnny Dynamite is a game that keeps it simple. You fly around levels and try to get all of the dynamite before time runs out. It comes equipped with a story mode, but also a level editor. The latter helps set it apart from the pack and makes this five dollar game far more interesting than it appears at first glance. Does is manage to live up to its potential?
While the main mode is called “story mode”, it doesn’t feature any sort of story at all. It’s just a series of levels that you complete. They don’t even have a unifying theme, apart from collecting the dynamite. When you manage to beat the fifty-fourth and final level, the game doesn’t even give you an ending. It just asks if you want to replay the level or go back to the main menu. The goal here is to try to get a three star rating on each level, which means beating it as fast as possible.
Beyond that, you have the level editor. Here you can create your own levels, play them as you go, and share them with friends. There’s no tutorial, but it’s pretty simple and can be figured out pretty much instantly. The issue here is that sharing your levels is done by generating a QR code. In order for someone to play your level, they have to take a picture of said code using their 3DS. This just isn’t the best way to share anything.
The game’s presentation is pretty much that of a flash game. Simple graphics are placed over a static background image. It’s functional, but not pretty to look at. You can utilize the 3D effect, but all it does is pop everything out but the background. It’s hardly the best use of the technology. As for the sounds, the music would be serviceable if it wasn’t so compressed. The sound is so tinny, you’d think you were playing a Tiger electronic game. It just doesn’t impress, even for a five dollar game.
Gameplay in JD is straightforward. You move with the d-pad or circle pad, use your jet pack with A, and throw dynamite with X. Your goal is to grab all of the sticks of dynamite before time runs out. As far as controls go, there are a couple of interesting things. Your jet pack will give you lift as long as you hold the button down, and your momentum will carry you forward to an acceptable degree. Also, you can throw dynamite on the ground or in the air. Either way, you will stop moving in order to do so.
Levels in the game are incredibly short. Many can be completed in less than ten seconds, while the longest ones still take under a minute. The trick is that you die from one hit, so you have to weigh speed versus precision.
In your way are a variety of obstacles and enemies. There are electric fields that fry you, spikes that shoot out of the ground (dangerous in small tunnels), mines that explode, and so on. Enemies will generally patrol a small area, but some flying ones follow you down like bloodhounds. The most advanced it gets are areas where you have to hit a switch to disable an electric field whilst moving quickly to get to the next spot before they reactivate. It never gets to be a puzzle, but it will keep you on your toes.
It’s an enjoyable little game that offers some basic arcade fun. However, the extreme shortness of the levels means you can beat the game in about half an hour. If you get into the level editor, that might get you your monies worth, but this is probably a game that should have been cheaper than even the five dollars they’re asking for.
Short Attention Span Summary
Johnny Dynamite is a simple beat the clock platformer that’s fun in small doses. However, one small dose is it all it takes to beat all of the game’s fifty-four levels. The level editor offers some value, but the inability to share your work outside of generating QR codes is a letdown. It’s honestly overpriced at five dollars, but it’s decent enough little game to try out when it goes on sale.