Ratalaika is a publisher whose games fall into two basic categories: inexpensive, perfunctory games whose main selling points are easy Achievements, and retro games like Moto Roader MC and Gynoug that also happen to have easy Achievements. Dandy and Randy DX definitely falls into the first category. It’s an Achievement-laden puzzle action game with cutesy graphics and decent co-op. If you’re going to buy a game just for Achievements or Trophies, it might as well have co-op, right?
Dandy and Randy DX (the title is actually spelled with an ampersand) is quite similar to another Ratalaika game I played a few years back, Mina and Michi. Both games are as by-the-numbers as possible, though Dandy and Randy DX is slightly grander in scope and ditches Mina and Michi’s co-op-focused puzzles.
The game begins with a cinematic in which the two animal protagonists decide to go to an island to look for treasure or something. It doesn’t matter. During the game itself, the heroes will meet two more animals who join up and become playable characters, though every character plays the same as the rest. A very, very simple narrative will unfold via occasional NPC and boss chatter. Essentially, a group of pirates have invaded the island to look for a legendary gem. Meanwhile, another mysterious character searches for the gem as well. The story culminates in a mild twist involving the dangers of capitalism. The writing is clunky but shows slightly more thought than typically evidenced by these games.
The game’s island is broken up into five main regions/levels plus a secret final region. Levels themselves are made up of a series of single-screen areas, not unlike the original Legend of Zelda. In each level, the protagonist must find four colored keys in order to open locked paths and eventually find the boss or bosses. Some screens have puzzles that can be solved by pushing blocks onto triggers or digging up switches. A few of the late-game puzzles can be tough, but they’re mostly quick and simple. In co-op games, both players share money. Each level has a shop that sells a few items, but players should avoid spending money until they get all of the money-based Achievements.
The heroes start with no equipment but a shovel that can be used to dig for money or items. Every level has an equippable item to find as well, including a boomerang, a hammer, and more. The boomerang stuns enemies, but they can only be defeated by throwing objects found on the ground. Items just help with navigation and puzzle-solving. An annoying thing about the items is that players can only equip one at a time. You’ll often need to scroll back and forth between several items on a single screen, so players should really be able to equip different items to different buttons on the controller.
Dandy and Randy DX has 17 Achievements/Trophies for players to unlock. Unlike Mina and Michi, players do have to complete the entire game to get all of the Achievements, which is for the best. Still, the game only takes about 1-2 hours to beat. Completion time can be shortened by playing on the Easy difficulty. On the Easy, players don’t even take damage from enemies – they just drop some money. The heroes can be hit and killed on higher difficulties. If one player dies, he or she can respawn on the next screen. When both players die, the team loses half their money and has to restart at the beginning of the level.
I played through several of Randy & Dandy DX’s levels with my stepdaughter, and she really had fun with the game. It’s easy for older gamers like to be put off by cynical, perfunctory games that don’t aspire to have much more value than their Achievements. Still, this one does look and sound pleasant enough. Playing with a partner helps a bit too since you can divide tasks or let the more skilled player get through a tough screen, automatically bringing the weaker player along. If you’re looking for an affordable, cutesy game with easy Achievements, this one is just dandy enough to fit the bill.
An Xbox review copy was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: A second player can join in at any time and take control of the second character.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.