STAFF REVIEW of Dandy and Randy DX (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Dandy and Randy DX Box art Dandy and Randy DX is a 2D top-down old school style game from Ratalaika Games. The two title characters are a couple of archaeologists who owe the bank a lot of money, and when they receive mysterious information about a fabled precious stone on the faraway Sunrise Islands, they jump at the chance to solve all their financial problems. The game is a cute 16-bit throwback that harkens old school gaming charm. Pixel art style and a familiar chiptune soundtrack hooked me from the moment I saw this pop up on the review list. Okay, if I’m being honest, an adorable character named Oinky really caught my attention in the trailers, but the retro stylized charm was also a factor.

As you start the game you can choose to play as either the pink duck (Dandy) or the blue rabbit (Randy). They have the same skills and stats so there is no benefit as to who you choose other than which cosmetic speaks to you more. There are also a couple of other characters you can play as once you unlock them. You initially are armed with only a shovel, which comes in handy for digging up cash beneath the islands surface but eventually you open a boomerang, hook shot, hammer and a few additional tools and skills which are opened by progressing the story. The boomerang allows you to hit otherwise inaccessible switches, attack enemies or gather unreachable loot, the hammer smashes impassable rocks and the hook shot allows you to travel across gaps like water or lava.

Each area of the island has a distinct visual look from deserts and frozen tundra, to mines and even a graveyard. Eventually you can free roam and explore but initially you have to open each area in order. At the end of each level there is a boss fight, each similar to one another but with their own distinct quirks for beating them. To get to each boss you must first find the 4 hidden keys in each level. The keys open the locked doors in each section. There is really no way to truly get lost in the game because you can’t clear a section without the key. However, I did find myself a bit lost at times, backtracking over areas I had already been in thinking I may have missed some hidden loot items. Bosses are never defeated using any of the skills you learn though, which I found interesting. Instead, you are dodging out of the way and attacking with either the hammer or more likely the ‘things’ that spring up from the ground in the boss areas to throw at them. These could be plants, or bombs for example.

Most areas are cleared through a variety of block pushing and light logic puzzles. None of them were really difficult and along with the option to turn on a mode with no deaths this game is suitable for a wide variety of ages and skill levels. There are no achievements that can’t be unlocked if you choose this mode either, which is a nice bonus for anyone looking for a quick runthrough to increase their gamerscore. The entire game can also be played in co-op mode. A few of the puzzles were slightly frustrating and relied heavily on super precise speed and movement through a timed area. Even once you get the ‘speedy’ shoes, I failed some of these multiple times as there wasn’t much room for error.

For the most part, Dandy and Randy DX is a fairly simple and straightforward game. With no checkpoints in the levels however, if you die you do go back to the start of the level you must complete any puzzles you already finished again, so it’s a good thing that the levels are fairly short. When you die you also lose half of your cash you’re carrying at the time. You can go back and reclaim your dropped cash at your death site though, and this is important for accumulating enough to visit the delightful Oinky’s shop and buying his overpriced health potions and other odds and ends.

A couple of the later game bosses gave me some problems mostly because they weren’t really telling me if I was doing any damage to them. Since I couldn’t tell if I was, I wasn’t sure if I understood how to beat them initially. It was a mild annoyance that didn’t really bother me to the point of quitting or dropping the difficulty, although it meant I died a few times and had to restart levels.

The story is told in a very tongue in cheek way and the writing is quite clever. There were even a few twists towards the end that I really didn’t see coming. A short run time of about three hours depending on your skill level, Dandy and Randy DX was quick and didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a very low-cost game if you are into quick achievement hunting as well which is always a nice bonus.

*Dandy and Randy DX was provided by the publisher and reviewed on Series X*

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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