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This is one of those standard cheap arcade games based on a popular license (in this case, the Burt Renyolds/Dom DeLouise voiced children's movie of the game's name). Most of them have little thought applied to them other than grabbing a few bucks from the parents of obsessed children. This isn't really the same, though it's awful license heavy.
Consider Disney's current slew of movie-based games, the ones that consist of a few action or puzzle games, tied together by the characters and/or plot of the movie used. The same concept basically applies here; All Dogs Go To Heaven is a grouping of mostly dissimilar mini-games, tied together with plot points from the movie (if you chose to play in that mode--you can pick your own game if you so choose). There's a hangman clone, a session of The Towers Of Hanoi, a run around the city to try to find the girl's house, a maze-crawl through a ventilation system, and so on. For what they are, they're well done, if far from original.
For those not familiar with the Don Bluth film, Charlie the dog is a good guy, really, if a bit of a rogue. An evil 'crime lord' of a dog decides to bump him off before he can interfere with nefarious schemes and all that. So, this bad guy drowns Charlie. Next scene, Heaven, where a pink poodle-like angel tells Charlie he can't go back to earth. The game picks up there, if you play the story mode.
There's three challenge levels, and this is where I raise my eyebrows. I played exclusively on the easiest level, just so I could see everything. Even with that set, some of these games seemed far too difficult for the ageset that likely watched the movie; the hangman clone involved 8 letter words, the 'house hunt' was 16-20 screens with limited landmarks, and I wonder if any child would understand The Towers Of Hanoi (since the puzzle itself is not explained to you, only the goal). The Rat Race seemed to be unloseable versus unwinnable, at that.
Most frustrating of all is the Vent Maze (or whatever the game calls it). Charlie and Itchy are thrown into an 8x8 maze, complete with dead-ends, vents to watch the baddies, and tunnel after tunnel after tunnel. The issue is the lack of reference points; the only way to tell where you are is a text reference (row 8, area 1 or something like) at the bottom of the screen. The whole maze is in first-person, but going left and right seemed to actually move you that way rather than turn, giving a nice sense of disorientation to the whole thing. The dead ends all over the place didn't help either, or a non-established goal (a chronic issue--if you haven't seen the movie, you won't have a clue of what's going on for the most part, and the little plot pieces don't really help). And the maze gets -bigger- on the next two difficulty levels. Ow.
All Dogs is not the trashy gimmick game it could have been, but it doesn't have much bite for a game all about dogs. It's worth a run through--the EGA graphics actually don't look bad--but not much more. And I fail to see how children would even remotely enjoy this. At least the happy-bouncy speaker music can easily be disabled...
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All Dogs Go To Heaven screenshot
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