These dummies will plotz or your money back!
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
DEVELOPER: Software Creations
RELEASE DATE: August 1994
The 90s were a strange time to be a child. It was a time when any commercial character, whether it be Chester Cheetah, Yo Noid!, or even the innocuous Crash Dummies (“Don’t be a dummy! Buckle your seatbelt!”) could be turned into an action figure line and given their own cartoon show or even video game. Very little time and effort was given to these characters’ extracurricular activities. No surprise: a lot of these soulless products are the worst kind of terrible. I mean, a Yo Noid! video game? Could Nostradamus have predicted such a travesty? Strangely, The Incredible Crash Dummies is not the expected car wreck it should have been. It can be needlessly frustrating, but it is more than playable.
You (obviously) play as one of the Crash Dummies and your quest, your goal, your very being depends on you trudging your way through a series of side-scrolling levels, filled to the brim with platforming, action, and many needless deaths. You alternate between the two dummies, Slick and Spin (whatever happened to Vince and Larry from the commercials?). Slick gets around via his unicycle body, while Spin has two legs, like a normal, er, crash test dummy. The real challenge typically comes from Slick’s levels. His unicycle can be hard to navigate around obstacles, and if he gets hit, he can go flying backwards, causing you to repeat a large portion of the level again. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen in any other platformer (save for the bloodless limb-severing that comes with your character’s death), but it’s still, dare I say it, fun. The levels are well-crafted, the controls are solid enough, and because the game isn’t based on a beloved franchise or film, there’s no real way for LJN to have pissed off a lot of “die-hard” Crash Dummy fans. Honestly, the game controls and plays so decently, that I’d be hard-pressed to call it an LJN game, if not for one thing: when you die, sometimes you start near an enemy that can and will attack you. Yes, it wouldn’t be LJN without some sort of cheap method that lowers your life bar. Still, considering the silly source material and the company’s track record, I’m surprised that The Incredible Crash Test Dummies doesn’t explode more often than it does.