Decap Attack… featuring Chuck D. Head! Doo-hoo-hoo-hoo! This is a really weird game, but it’s a pretty fun one worth playing through if you are into 2D platformers. Especially ones with a wacky, spooky theme to it–because this is pretty much it when you get that specific. (Well, I guess there’s Monster Party from the NES. And Metal Gear Solid 5.)
Sega systems have featured a few pretty weird but creative 2D platformers over the years. Alex Kidd, Wonder Boy, Ristar, Dynamite Headdy, Toejam and Earl, Astal, Nights, Clockwork Knight… and so on. But I think Decap Attack might be the weirdest? I don’t know about most creative, but it’s definitely in the running for weirdest.
And that’s just fine and dandy. You play as a headless mummy–or rather, a mummy whose head is in its torso? And your attack is… punching your head out? The internal organs extend your head out and back in like an accordion? (You know, for kids!) This attack really sucks, so it’s in your best interest to locate a skull head that you can wear atop your body, and throw across the screen to attack all enemies in your path. (The skull is nice enough to fly back to you afterward.) This ability makes the game loads funner, and much less of a struggle to work through. I played this on my Vita (via the PSP’s Sega Genesis Collection), so I tended to reload a previous save if I ever lost my skull-flinging power.
I suppose I should mention the story. Basically, a mad doctor has created you–Chuck D. Head–in order to stop some monster who has separated the continent into seven islands. This continent, I’ll have you know, curiously looks exactly like a giant skeleton. I’m serious, take a look.
So yeah, kill all the monsters and put the spooky scary continent back together (somehow).
Decap Attack is super-whimsical with its Halloween fun times. This was made back in the time of things like… I don’t know, the cartoons for Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, and The Addams Family? And that ridiculous claymation, Bump in the Night. Perhaps it’s no wonder I’m into horror; I was raised on a mockery of the genre. Nightmare Before Christmas might’ve been around that time too. Great stuff. Decap Attack! Great stuff.
This game isn’t all that great, actually. You slip and slide about everywhere, your jumps are wonky and make an annoying sound, the background and foreground graphics are confusingly samey-looking (e.g. “Is *that* a platform?” [you fall into lava] “Guess not”), and the levels you play through don’t really do anything different from any of the other dozen 2D platformers you’ve played through. But I think where Decap Attack shines is in its silliness, and in its little details.
For example, I personally think it’s hilarious how you can kill enemies when you jump on them. Say there’s a little werewolf munchkin standing around up ahead, minding its own business. Jumping on it once will drive the werewolf down into the ground like a hammer to a nail, with just the monster’s head sticking out of the earth. It’s not dead yet though–this is a horror game, and all you’ve done is place your enemy in a tortured, helpless state. Jumping on the beast a second time is necessary to finish the job. (You must never forget to double-tap, children!) But this is the really great part… When you kill your enemy, it explodes into a pile of bones that fly off in all directions. Absolutely fantastic. And you can do this to every single enemy in the game! Crows. The arrow-flinging oompa-loompas. And even sheet ghosts. You heard me. Sheet ghosts. They too will explode into a pile of bones that fly off in all directions.
But enough about Decap Attack’s gruesome violence. What’s also fantastic is how you can do a sort of bicycle-pedalling maneuver to slow down your fall. Just keep tapping the jump button while you’re in mid-air, and your descent will be less like a brick, and more like a… I don’t know, a drunken bee.
COOL, that’s the review then. It’s all in all an amusing diversion–not a game-changer by any means, but an interesting example of 90s localization measures and the home of a soundtrack that could work nicely for a lighthearted Halloween party.