Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is one of the few Arcade games I have very vivid memories of playing the actual Arcade game. A fair arrives in our town twice a year and with it a small portable Arcade with the same 10 or so machines, one of which was Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (and may well still be, I haven’t checked in several years…) It’s your classic CAPCOM scrolling beat ‘em up but set in the bizarre world of the short-lived cartoon of the same name. So let’s take a closer look!
Well, there’s a dinosaur, anyway…
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs was released into Arcades in 1993, the same year as the cartoon of the same name (which itself was based on a long-running comic). There isn’t actually anything else to say about it, it’s never been released at home, probably due to licensing…
Ah-ha! There’s a Cadillac! … Admittedly blurry, but as you can see by the normal health bar, that’s just the screen effect when you’re driving…
Like a lot of these licensed games the actual core gameplay hasn’t been changed much, the characters and locales doing all the work in making it feel different compared to what came before it. You have your attack, your jump, your grapple (where you can attack and throw) and a health-draining special move, though this time you also have a special move that doesn’t deplete health, sort of like Streets of Rage II and onwards.
Up to three players can play simultaneously and if more than one player does a special near another you can do a “Team Special”. The only other thing unique about the game is the fact that as well as the “Black Marketeers” gang you fight there are also titular dinosaurs that roam around the levels and will attack both you and your enemies indiscriminately, which is fun. There are also the health and weapon pick-ups (often from barrels!), and the weapons can include the usual melee weapons but can also include guns and explosives, which at the time was unique in my eyes (turns out it had already been done, but I wasn’t to know at the time!)
So basically it’s another really solid CAPCOM scrolling beat ‘em up with a really unique and fun setting. Speaking of the “Mad Max style post-apocalypse wasteland but with dinosaurs” setting, this does lead to some classic clichés being missing from the game. That being said, there are still overweight enemies and a lift stage, so it has the most common clichés down at least!
Graphics and Sound:
A three way beat down of some beardy-fat-dudes, as they like to be called. What’s that? “Black Elmer”? Nah…
The graphics are good, very of-the-time CAPCOM, somewhere between Final Fight and some of their later, super-detailed sprite efforts. The dinosaurs in particular are well realised and animated.
Sound is good, very catchy background music and great soundeffects, which for a game that features old-style cars, guns and dinosaurs, there is a great variety of soundeffects!
Erm…That’s not any kind of dinosaur I recognise…
Much like the cartoon (and the comic, I assume?) it’s set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the 26th century where gangs of humans live alongside dinosaurs, except a Mad Max-like gang has started hunting dinos and turning them into aggressive pets, or worse. This gang, called the “Black Marketeers”, are now leaving villages on fire and roaming aggressive dinosaurs are … erm, well roaming. Jack Tenrec, a mechanic and shaman, teams up with his friend and fellow engineer Mustapha Cairo, diplomat and explorer Hannah Dundee, and the mountain of muscle known as Mess O’Bradovich in order to take them down.
Which of course is exactly what they do, the Black Marketeers, converted dinosaurs and the mad scientist at the head of it all are soon taken down, bringing what passes as peace back to the land.
The overweight enemy is immune to the lift moving blur due to his sheer weight… I guess?
I remember playing it on and off at Steven’s Fun Fair (I was mostly into the WWF WrestleFest machine…) but one day me and my friend Tom stood in front of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and completed it, and had a great time doing so. Time passed and eventually we played it on the PC via MAME and while it wasn’t the same atmosphere it was still a good example of the genre.
Ever see a woman flying kick a T-Rex? Well, now you have.
While beyond the unique setting and character designs there isn’t much to shout about, it’s still a really solid game that’s extremely fun to play. The mix of four characters and the weapons available alongside there being eight very different levels means it’s easy to recommend (downloading the ROM, as there is no other way of playing it at the moment…)