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Dollar Dash: Review (XBLA)

Dollar Dash feature

What would happen if Bomberman robbed a bank? That’s Dollar Dash in a nutshell. Candygun Games and Kalypso Media have created an action-packed, multiplayer-focused, arcade-y bank robbing game. It’s kind of like Payday: The Heist meets Team Fortress 2. But enough with the metaphors…

We have to start with the fact that Dollar Dash is entirely a multiplayer game, minus the tutorial. Because of this, the Playstation Network version of the game seems to be the better console purchase. It can be played offline with bots, but that grows old quickly. Unfortunately, that “growing old quickly” is the theme of this downloadable title.

dollar dash, review, xbla, psn, kalypso, candygun

Hopefully this won’t be the story of your online play with Dollar Dash.

Dollar Dash has three modes of play: the titular Dollar Dash, Hit’n’Run, and Save the Safe. In all modes, the goal is the be the first to raise $5,000, and the top-down view will bring images of Bomberman flooding to your mind. Dollar Dash mode is the leading way to play, and it’s here you’ll have the most fun. Money will spawn in certain areas of the map; you must collect and deposit it in another particular spot to start building your funds. You can also steal other player’s money by hitting them with items, laying traps, or simply throwing punches. Hit’n’Run has you collect money exclusively by beating it out of each other, and Save the Safe is basically “keep away” – the longer you hold the safe, the more money you’ll earn. But simply put, Hit’n’Run and Save the Safe aren’t as fun as Dollar Dash. On the plus side, maps, items, and game types can be tweaked when setting up a multiplayer or bot lobby.

So where will you be doing this thievery? Dollar Dash has a great selection of maps; coupled with the items, these are the game’s strongest qualities. Maps vary in layout, item spawning, and money placement, forcing you to learn and use new strategies every time – a definite plus. Maps like the basic Crossroads have time-dependent money spawns and drop-off zones, leading to lots of fisticuffs and firefights during the downtime. Standout maps like Building Site and Mansion have “point A to point B” layouts, which create strategies, choke points, and fierce competition in online play.  Some game types flounder on certain maps, but for the most part, the maps here are beyond criticism.

dollar dash, review, xbla, psn, kalypso, candygun

Plus, everyone loves marinas.

Along with multiple maps comes an armory-load of items. These come in three forms: offensive items, traps, and power-ups. Offensive items can be aimed with the right stick, lending the game a twin-stick shooter feel. Items like the lobbed cactus, rapid-fire snowball, and rolling boulder allow you to pummel the cash right out of your opponents, and they create a feeling of controlled chaos. Traps like the bear trap and bomb (we told you it’s like Bomberman) can be dropped while moving. While not too difficult to avoid, they create fairly challenging hazards on already action-packed maps. Power-ups have the greatest range of effects. Some like the sneakers and shield affect movement and defense respectively, but an item like the piggy bank will automatically add funds to your $5,000 goal. Add these items to the game’s art style and fun maps, and you’ve got some strong personality.

Beyond actual gameplay, there is plenty to purchase for your little robber. Ranking up in matches earns you funds for the shop, where you can buy perks, upgrades, hats, faces, taunts, icons, and dances. The last three fall under the “take it or leave it” category, but perks and upgrades are a huge plus. Perks boost your overall gameplay, allowing you to do things like carry more money at a time; upgrades improve specific weapons, like boosting the range of a cactus throw. Hats and faces are purely aesthetic (though we love our afro-sporting, Jason Vorhees mask-wearing guy), but they allow you to customize the look of your thief, giving you more than just a color distinction during matches. At its core, the store gives you something to do outside of playing matches, and what you buy there greatly affects the following games.

dollar dash, review, xbla, psn, kalypso, candygun

Is that a clown nose down there?

We’ve gone over the modes, maps, items, and unlockables, and it all sounds pretty great. Here’s the catch: as we mentioned, the game is multiplayer only, save for bot matches. The only single player option is Boot Camp, which is just a glorified tutorial. This is only such a detraction because Boot Camp shows what a single player campaign could have been. Even some exposition between matches would have worked, but there is simply no true single player option. With as much personality Candygun packed into the game, it’s a shame they spent zero effort on any narrative.

The single player-only play could be forgiven if the multiplayer was strong enough, but it simply isn’t. The maps and items are great, but Dollar Dash is the only mode worth playing. While there are currently enough players online to sustain matches, the repetition is quickly going to drain away the game’s fun. It’s a shame, because Dollar Dash did all the right things in the modes it included. It’s what it left out that’s going to kill it in the long run.

FTG Rating 6

 Want to see Dollar Dash in action? Check out our Watch This! video.

A code for the game was provided for review.