Dynowarz: The Destruction of Spondylus (NES) Review

The Short


– You can ride a dinosaur

– You can ride a dinosaur




– Sometimes you are not riding the dinosaur

badassdinosaur (1)


The Long

“Something was terribly wrong in the distant man-made Spondylus Solar System. One by one the planet’s central life support computers had been infected with a life threatening virus while the planet surfaces had been overrun with computerized dinosaurs known as Robosaurs. Under attack in his laboratory on Alpha Planet, Professor Proteus, the mastermind of the Spondylus System and the founder of the Robosaur project suddenly realized that this deadly sabotage could only be the work of his former partner, the deranged Dr. Brainius. 
Years earlier, the doctor had fled Alpha Planet after Professor Proteus had exposed him for performing forbidden robotic experiments on human subjects. At last, he has returned to seek his revenge using the Professor’s own creations! But little did he realize that Proteus had been hard at work for the past few years perfecting the ultimate Robosaur, Cyborasaurus. 
There was only one hope to save the Spondylus System!”


That one hope? DINOSAURS. Or...Dynosaurs? Um...

That one hope? DINOSAURS. Or…Dynosaurs? Um…

Wait, no, there’s more to say here, because that previous statement wasn’t entirely factual. Yes, Dynowarz is split into two distinct parts: playing as a human with a gun in smaller, enclosed levels that require backtracking, and playing as a killer orange Dynosaur out to cause Space Dynosaur Extinction across the known galaxy. The difference here is that while Blaster Master is mostly about exploration, Dynowarz is a linear platforming game that does little to mix up the formula. Plus Blaster Master had those top-down shooter bits. Those were pretty good, actually. And rad music. Why am I not playing Blaster Master? Dynowarz is basically Blaster Master except replace the car Sophia with a giant killer T-Rex in space. There, review over.


Oh, right, because Blaster Master is impossible.

Oh, right, because Blaster Master is impossible.

The sections where you are a person are fairly poor. You have a gun and you jump like you are on the moon, but the game is determined to make the platforming as difficult as possible by having tiny moving platforms as well as spikes everywhere to punish you for even the slightest screw-up. The first few aren’t too difficult (actually, they all aren’t that bad), but they come off as more stressful than actually fun.At any rate, Dynowarz, despite having the raddest name, cover art, and premise of any video game ever made, is really just a somewhat mediocre 2D beat-em-up. It’s split into two sections (as mentioned previously): ones where you get out of the Dyno (usually to go inside a building), and one where you are driving the giant Dyno robot.

It should also be pointed out that you usually get out of the Dyno to walk into buildings to destroy the Mother Brains inside of them which then destroy the buildings, when the Dyno is clearly bigger than the building and could probably just go Godzilla on its ass. Oh well, video game logic. I give the person segments a Not Dynosaur / 10.

This is boring. Go away.

This is boring. Go away.

Oh right, the DYNOSAUR part. It’s a fairly linear 2d beat-em-up. You have to murder a whole variety of dynos, ranging from triceratops to stegosaurus to other t-rexes. The kind of weird thing is that your default attack is a really short-ranged punch, when I’m pretty sure T-Rexes were famous for having tiny, crappy front arms. It’s like a cultural meme now. I have a pin with a T-Rex holding one of those grip extender things, with the text “I AM UNSTOPPABLE!” under it for the laughs. So clearly, we know T-Rex had garbage arms. Fact check next time, game designers, like go to a natural history museum or something I swear.But the other half of the game involves the DYNOSAUR!!! (*sick guitar riff!!*) ON THE…MOON?! Or some sort of planet? Come to think of it, the title does say “The Destruction of Spondylus.” Am I on Spondylus? Is this the wreckage of a former civilization? Maybe it’s a crazy reversal, where I’m the last man alive, and only dynosaurs survived the apocalypse? Plz Namco-Bandai, release a reboot of Dynowarz with an intricate plot and cookie-cutter main characters to explain the massive backstory potential available with this series. I mean, if they can freaking reboot Strider and reboot Duck Tales and reboot Blaster Master and reboot Killer Instinct and reboot Mortal Kombat and reboot that one fighting game nobody knows about on the Xbox but is for some reason coming to Xbox One, then this is totally fair game!

Upgrades range from a arm gun, an arm that circles around you like a deranged boomerang, and a better punch. Overall, the gun is the most useful but also the weakest, and some enemies that are low to the ground you can’t even hit with certain weapons. Also, if you pick up more of the same powerup it’ll upgrade it, but if you mess up and pick up a different power-up, you get that one instead and all your upgrades go away. It’s a little obnoxious. And by a little I mean a lot.


WELCOME, to JURASSIC PARK! ...Planet. Jurassic Planet. Is that the fifth movie?

WELCOME, to JURASSIC PARK! …Planet. Jurassic Planet. Is that the fifth movie?


While the Dynosaur bits should have been the most badass parts, they’re actually a hunk of hot garbage. Attacks, as mentioned before, feel weak and have horrible range. It’s hard to even attack enemies without getting hit back. But what’s even worse is the pits and jumping. Right off the bat there’s a pit with a mine on the other side. If you jump across like a normal platformer, you’ll hit the mine and it’ll explode, knocking you into the pit for an instant death. You try to overshoot and it does the same thing. Only if you pull an Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and take a leap of faith into the abyss will you hopefully land on that one pixel just to the left of the mine but isn’t in the pit, and then be able to hop the mine and continue on your way. I’m going off memory here, but I’m pretty sure that’s the first pit jump in the game. Maybe the second. I dunno, it’s a little hazy, all I can think of right now is Jurassic Park dubstep for some reason .

It is mandatory to listen to this while playing.

Aside from the mediocre gameplay, Dynowarz also looks pretty trashy. The cutscenses when you get into your Dyno and at the end are straight up awesome, but the rest of the game is kind of a blurry, pixelated mess. Nearly every planet’s background is just a black starry sky, no mountains or hills or background of any kind. It’s kind of cool in like a “the bleakness of a destroyed world” way, but I mean…why is every planet like this? Was Spondylus like the entire solar system or something? Why is everything so flat? Is this the Iowa Midwest of galaxies?

Music is also subpar around the board. Tunes are tinny and entirely unmemorable, though not offensive. Sound effect are bland and sound bitcrunched to death, perfectly complimenting the bland blobs of pixels that are supposed to be dinosaurs on the screen. Sorry, dynosaurs. Dunno why I keep doing that.

Beating the bosses is more having the right weapon mixed with luck.

Beating the bosses is more having the right weapon mixed with luck.

Ok, real talk: I secretly kind of love Dynowarz. Real talk part two: it’s crap. It seriously is straight up garbage. It’s not broken (which, considering this is the NES, is actually a pretty big positive), but it most certainly isn’t a good game. It’s tedious, not hard enough to be challenging but not easy enough to be a fun cakewalk, and most of it’s difficulty stems from awful design and, mostly, the bad controls.

But still, it’s a game where you freaking drive a robot dinosaur to punch other robot dinosaurs in space.  And all of a sudden all my problems with it dissolve into blissful, peaceful, dynophoria.

Two out of five stars. 

Also, more games should end like this. "Congratulations, youve beaten another great game from Phil Fish!"

Also, more games should end like this. “Congratulations, youve beaten another great game from Phil Fish!”

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

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