DECAP ATTACK / Sega / Genesis

Decap Attack is part of a weird chain of platformers made by Vic Tokai (and published by Sega) where they used the same game engine and even recycled portions of levels here and there. It started with Psycho Fox on the Master System, then Kid Kool for the NES, then the Japan-only original release of Decap Attack was actually a game about a Middle Eastern merchant kid who attacks by chucking an egg. For whatever reason, Vic Tokai opted for this whole comedy-horror reskin for the Western release of the game.

So anyway. This takes place in some sort of Monster Land, where the continent everyone lives on is this giant skeleton shape. Evil forces rip the skeleton-continent asunder, and a hero will have to visit each of the new continent chunks to collect some sort of magical tomes and beat a conveniently-placed boss in each to realign everything.

The hero of the day is Chuck D. Head, some sort of shambolic mummy with a face in his torso. He can indeed chuck the head, but you have to find a skeleton power-up in the levels to do so and then you lose it if you take a hit. Otherwise he pretty much just jumps and can extend the face in his chest a little bit for a powerful but very limited-range attack (similar to the little punches seen in the predecessor games). He also has kind of a floaty jump-delay thing roughly comparable to what Yoshi does that you can spam over and over to sort of parachute him down from jumps.

Chuck's whole move set and scheme is kinda odd. He moves somewhat like Sonic, with the exaggerated delayed turns and gradual acceleration (though nowhere near the top speed, plus levels rarely give you extended stretches to run on). Learning his abilities and movement style is kinda like learning one of those oddball fighting game characters like Dhalsim. The base moveset of jumping and stomping vulnerable enemies is basically the only familiar platformer thing here. The face-chest projection attack is so limited in range that it's really more an emergency defensive move than something to go after the enemies with (though you'll be forced to use it quite a bit if you lose your chuckable skull when fighting bosses). Chuckin de head also has weird physics that seem kinda sloppy and amateurish; Chuck throws it on an extremely low arc, and then it just sits in place for a while before returning to you, but it constantly does damage to any enemies that wander into it even while sitting on the ground. So you have a situation where it's OP against certain big bosses that don't move much, but take one hit from them and suddenly you don't have a reliable means of attack for the rest of the battle.

This is also almost a puzzle-platformer, in that it requires you to use Chuck's oddball suite of abilities in an almost Mario ROM hack-y way sometimes. For example, you'll have to wall-climb of a sort by using Chuck's little jump-delay thing while bouncing off of rubber tiles. As you collect coins around the levels, you can also dip into the Start menu to visit your Dr. Frankenstein-esque patron and his shop full of temporary bonus boosts.

As reviews of the time noted, the perspective is a little more pulled-in than the usual platformer. With all the jumping and falling you're asked to do, that can lead to problems. There are long stretches where Decap Attack appears to have nothing in its bag of tricks but these off-screen ambushes. It surprises you here and there though, as in level 3-1 where you're suddenly thrown into an auto-scrolling race to keep away from a deadly totem pole stack that grinds up everything in its path. "I'm comin' for ya Chuck!"

So it's definitely uneven in terms of level design ... being a little glitchy doesn't help either. Chuck seems to get trapped on ledge corners frequently, twitching around and causing you to lose control for a few seconds.

The game feels like a cheap hit fest sometimes, but on the whole it's solid and the uniquely bizarre characters plus nice sprite art and a very solid chiptunes soundtrack really help the appeal. It's not one of the best titles of the time, but platformer fans and Genesis enthusiasts may well find enough here to enjoy to make it worth a run.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video