Nostalgia is king in the modern era of entertainment. From reboots of old movie franchises to ports of classic games onto new video game systems, audiences crave what feels familiar. In the absence of an older property, new artists have been leaning into a nostalgic style, particularly when it comes to video games. Whether it’s simple 8- or 16-bit graphics, older-sounding music or a nostalgic art style, plenty of games utilize the simpler style of the 80s and 90s classics. While Dandy and Randy DX may be a whole new story, its short run time, reliance on pixelated graphics and simple controls provide both a fun nostalgia trip for older gamers and a hilarious adventure for the younger crowd.
Dandy and Randy DX tells the story of two archeologists who are looking for a precious stone on an island, but not because it belongs in a museum or anything of that nature—rather, they have to pay back their bank and get out of debt. The Celestial Stone could be nothing more than a legend, but it could also be their chance to get things back to normal.
Over the course of the game, the titular characters must explore five different regions and a bonus level to uncover the gem. They will meet colorful characters and a variety of enemies along the way, though, many of them are fairly copy-and-pasted across the board. The only one that provides any major sense of variety is the bonus/finale level. This level also hits players with a not-so-subtle moral that comes a little out of nowhere but will likely have players laughing at it anyways. While the story isn’t anything amazingly original, there is some witty writing that will provide a good chuckle.
Dandy and Randy DX features six levels. While all are similar in many ways, the developers bring just enough variety to each one to keep the entertainment going. The goal of each level is to explore the map and find all the treasure before beating a final boss. This will provide the intrepid archeologists with their next clue to where the gem could be located and unlock the next level. Along the way, the players will traverse obstacles with their handy tools and learn how to use the terrain to their advantage.
Tools and Combat
During the course of the game, the players are given tools to help them. You start with a shovel, eventually, you get access to other gadgets such as a hand axe, a boomerang and even a grappling hook. These tools can assist in not only uncovering treasure, like axes being able to open rocks that contain coins but can also help players find their way across difficult terrain. It’s also extremely easy to flip back and forth between tools using the R and L buttons, which helps keep the choices from being overwhelming.
However, almost none of these tools assist in combat at all. Combat in Dandy and Randy DX exists almost exclusively in the player throwing items towards the area of the enemy or boss. This means it can be easy to get cornered if you’re not paying attention. The boomerang tool will stun a smaller enemy and give you (or your partner if you’re playing multiplayer) enough time to grab something in the environment to kill them. However, the boomerang tool is fairly limited in where it can go and aiming it isn’t the easiest task. You also have to let it run its full motion cycle before moving your character or reissuing the boomerang, which can leave you defenseless especially if you’re playing solo. Giving the player the opportunity to stun using at least one of the other tools might have been a good way to work around this. That being said, combat isn’t particularly hard and health items can be found throughout the world, so losing a heart to an enemy isn’t an automatic “game over”, especially in the late game.
Each of the levels in the game features several subsections which will fill in your map as you explore. Levels are fairly branching and provide a variety of options for where to go. Enemies, obstacles and even puzzles will challenge players. While the puzzles are fairly rudimentary, it serves as a nice break from the rest of the gameplay.
Four keys can be found while exploring that will allow you to access hidden areas, treasure and eventually a boss battle. Each level is essentially the same in structure, which has the potential to become tedious, yet Dandy and Randy DX has just the right amount of variety in terrain and enemies to keep it new and fresh enough each time.
Dandy and Randy DX works best when playing multiplayer. The game allows an option to play local two-person co-op, and this is absolutely the sort of game you want to share with someone else. Not only do the jokes land better when you have a partner to laugh with, but it also serves as a good bonding exercise to work together, making your way across the terrain and beating the world boss. That doesn’t mean solo mode is bad, but multiplayer shines far brighter.
The art of Dandy and Randy DX is fairly simple, inspired by older pixelated games. Still, the art is quite pretty. Terrains are bright, textured are colorful, and character sprites are charming and cozy. Randy and Dandy’s designs are particularly cute, and Oinky the shopkeeper is a recurring character that players will find adorable. The world bosses’ designs are also fun and unique. While the art might not win any awards for groundbreaking graphics, it serves its purpose in a cozy nostalgic game.
The music is easily one of the most standout aspects of the game. Each world comes with its own theme, although you may get tired of it if you spend too much time in the same area. Each of the songs is catchy. The music of the desert level in particular pumps the player up for the adventure they are about to go on. Bosses also have their own music, which can make things intense. Since the game lacks voice acting, music has to do the heavy lifting for the sound design. Luckily, it succeeds and adds to the charm that makes up the rest of the game.
While the game is short enough to play multiple times without sinking too many hours into it, Dandy and Randy DX has little replay value. Introducing friends to the game can provide some extra joy, but that’s the extent of reasons to replay. The game does allow you to unlock different characters as you adventure, but this change is purely cosmetic and doesn’t provide any new features that would be worth retrying the game. If you do feel the need to try again, everything in a level resets when you return to it except finding the keys so you can go back and fight your favorite bosses. In general, this is a one-and-done game, but the price is cheap enough to justify that.
Dandy and Randy DX is a cheeky game with a lot of fun and heart sprinkled throughout its short runtime. If you’re looking for a game to fill the gap the first few Zelda adventures hold in your heart or just need something fun and chill to play with your partner, this would be the perfect game to pick up. Anyone looking for something meaty or serious should look elsewhere. With its cute art, catchy music and simple combat system, this game will charm and delight anyone who plays it.
Final rating: 8/10.