The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Sega
  • Publishers:
    • Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy
  • Released:
    SMS
    • UK December 1991
    • Brazil February 1992
    GG
    • US October 1991
    • JP 12/20/1991
    • UK December 1991
    • Brazil April 1992
Score: 75%

This review was published on 04/21/2017.

The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Sega for the Sega Master System and Game Gear. Sega published the Master System version in Europe in December 1991, and the Game Gear version in North America in October 1991, Japan on December 20, 1991, and Europe in December 1991. A special edition box set of the Master System version was also released in Europe, featuring the game, a t-shirt, and cassette tape with some popular songs from Disney movies. Tec Toy published the Master System and Game Gear versions in Brazil in February 1992 and April 1992, respectively. This game came out around the same time as QuackShot for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive, which is another game starring Donald Duck that was developed by the same team. The same team also previously developed Castle of Illusion, a platformer starring Mickey Mouse that originally came out on the Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear in 1990 and 1991. Like those games, Lucky Dime Caper is pretty decent.

Image

One day, Donald Duck took his three nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, to visit their wealthy uncle, Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge decided to give his nephews a special present in the form of one dime each. They were disappointed by this, understandably so. Seeing their disappointed faces, Scrooge began to tell them about the very first dime he made, which he refers to as his "Lucky Dime." The nephews asked him if their dimes are lucky, too. Then Scrooge makes up some sentimental nonsense about how the kind of luck their dimes bring them will depend on how hard they work. Just as Donald and his nephews are about to leave Scrooge's estate, the evil witch, Magica De Spell, swoops in to cause some trouble. She kidnaps the nephews and steals all of the dimes, including Scrooge's very own Lucky Dime. It's now up to Donald to rescue his nephews and return Scrooge's Lucky Dime, hence the game's title.

Image

The graphics are simply breathtaking for an 8-bit system. You've got vibrant color palettes, fairly decent looking environments, and sprites with a surprising amount of detail. The animations are also nice enough to be worth mentioning. Donald's animations are definitely the best in the game, as they do a splendid job of portraying his personality. His cartoonish mallet swinging animation is impressively smooth, especially for 8-bit hardware. Then there are his idle animations, which are also full of personality. For example, his normal idle stance has him angrily yelling at the player, whereas he shivers in the icy climates and sweats profusely in hot places. He even has some special death animations, like being burned to a crisp when he dies by some fire based attacks, or frozen solid when killed by cold assaults. On the other hand, the music and sound effects are merely serviceable. They never become grating, but they aren't particularly noteworthy, either. While the music is by no means bad, there are no real memorable tracks in this game's soundtrack. Still, the impressive visuals more than make up for that shortcoming.

Image

Like the title states, you'll be exclusively controlling Donald Duck for this adventure. You press directions on the d-pad to make Donald move around and duck like a duck, whereas the 2 button makes him jump. Unlike Mickey in Castle of Illusion, Donald can stomp on his foes to injure or defeat them, no special butt bounce attack required. While the basic controls are simple enough, the main issue with them is that Donald's movements are quite slow in this game. He walks at a snail's pace and his jumping is also rather sluggish. There's also not much in the way of momentum. As a result of that, jumping from one platform to the next can be pretty tough, especially when there are enemies nearby. This is where the game primarily derives its challenge, as maneuvering Donald through the dangerous landscapes requires a lot of deliberation. It can get kind of frustrating at times, but it's ultimately not too bad. The game just requires more patience than most.

Image

Besides stomping his foes to death, Donald has a few other methods to dispatch baddies. He begins the game with a massive mallet, and you can make him swing it by pressing the 1 button. On the ground, Donald will swing the mallet like a golf club, but he'll do an overhead swing while in the air. Donald can also exchange his mallet for a Frisbee if he acquires one in the form of a power-up. With the Frisbee, Donald will be able to attack from afar, plus he can throw it upwards by holding up on the d-pad while attacking. If you want to go back to the mallet, you'll simply have to find it again in power-up form. Why would you ever want to do that, you ask? Well, while the mallet lacks range, it's still useful in certain situations due to its higher attack speed. Speaking of, if you collect three star power-ups, Donald's weapon attack speed will go up, allowing him to attack even more rapidly. It's a neat system, though it'd have been neater if there were more weapons.

Image

The game is divided into two halves. In the first half, your mission is to rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie, who are located in three separate stages. After accomplishing that task, you'll be tasked with finding their three lucky dimes, which are located in a second set of three stages. Upon finishing that, you'll travel to Magica's castle for the final confrontation, adding up to a grand total of seven stages. You're able to do each set of stages in the order you like, and they're all decent. Most of the standard platformer environments are represented here: there's a forest, tropical island, pyramid laden desert, and ice stage. The stage design is pretty standard fare, but there are occasionally some snazzy innovations. For instance, one stage has ice platforms that melt away whenever drops of water hit them, forcing you to wait until they reform so that you can safely get across. Every stage also ends with a fairly standard boss encounter. Anyway, the stages are overall okay.

Image

While they're basically the same game, there are some major differences between the Master System and Game Gear versions of Lucky Dime Caper. Firstly, the intro sequences are different, and the Game Gear version is missing some music. Secondly, Donald loses his weapon when getting hit in the Master System version, leaving him unarmed. If he's hit while unarmed, he'll be out for the count, so the weapons sort of act as his health. However, Donald keeps his weapon even when injured in the Game Gear version. Due to that, stars act as health in the Game Gear version, and you can only have up to three; acquiring more merely gives you points. Getting five stars in the Master System version grants Donald temporary invulnerability, but he loses all stars as compensation. Power-ups also appear in predetermined spots in the Game Gear version, whereas they're only obtainable via defeating enemies in the Master System release. Stages are also timed in the Master System version, but they aren't in the Game Gear release. Additionally, you can't backtrack in the Game Gear release, but can in the Master System version. Lastly, the stage design is different in both versions, sometimes radically so. Basically, the Game Gear version is easier, but you can't see very far due to the small screen.

Image

Lucky Dime Caper isn't on the same level of quality as Castle of Illusion or Quackshot, but it's still a solid game and easily one of the best titles on the Master System and Game Gear. It's got some of the best graphics and animations on those platforms, plus the stages are decently fun. The game is hurt slightly by the unmemorable music and sluggish controls, but those things aren't enough to ruin the overall package.

Word Count: 1,342

Tweet