Dollar Dash is an interesting little addition to the world of downloadable multiplayer-centric games. With a lighthearted, cartoony theme and a variety of environments and items, the game aims to bring energetic and accessible gameplay to players. And while the final product sometimes is too frenetic for its own good, it ends up providing a fun experience when it works.
Groups of up to four players control individual thieves, all of which are the same model but with different color schemes, from an overhead view in one of several unique environments. The basic controls resemble dual-joystick shooters, with the left stick controlling each character’s movement and the right stick controlling the aim of certain powerups that spawn randomly on the map.
These controls are identical across all three of the game’s different modes: Hit ‘n Run, Save the Safe, and the titular Dollar Dash. The main factor that is universal between all three is cash, essentially serving as both points for each individual match as well as currency for unlockables in between games.
Hit ‘n Run is essentially a straightforward deathmatch, with players set loose to pick up randomly spawned weapons, traps, and defensive items and wreak havoc against each other, with cash awarded for successful attacks. Save the Safe starts with a large safe being spawned in the center of the map. Whoever picks it up first earns cash automatically over time, so long as they aren’t attacked to the point that they drop it for someone else to snatch.
Finally, Dollar Dash has individual piles of cash spawned at certain points on the environment for anyone to pick up. After a certain amount of time, a truck will appear at specific points on the map for a set amount of time. Players can run up to it and deposit all the cash they still have on them to earn points. The catch is that carrying larger amounts of cash will slow a player down, and at any point, they can be attacked with a weapon or a punch from nearby opponents, and drop some of their hard-earned cash for others to pick up.
All three modes end when a player manages to reach a certain score limit. Afterward, each player gets to keep all the cash they’ve earned in each match, and spend it on a lengthy list of unlocks. Some items are purely cosmetic, like different hats and faces for your character. Others are more substantial, like perks and upgrades, which include the ability to carry more maximum cash or take less damage from certain items. To keep things fair, only one perk and upgrade can be equipped for each match, but players are given plenty of time to choose both those and their character accessories in the lobby before each match.
Ultimately, some modes work better than others. I was able to have a good time with Dollar Dash and Save the Safe, but Hit ‘n Run, considering the game’s perspective, how zoomed out it can get, and how much can be happening on the screen at once, can get overly chaotic, to the point that I repeatedly found myself losing track of my character. It doesn’t help that aiming projectile weapons can be frustrating, as the game requires a short but noticeable amount of time to turn your character’s body when you push the right stick in the opposite direction that they’re facing.
Because the other two modes aren’t as reliant on pure combat, they fare better. It also helps that there’s a good amount of content to encourage replay value. Besides the aforementioned cash and unlockable system, each environment offers a unique layout and exclusive stage hazards, such as dangerous trains or collapsing dock bridges. Individual factors for each map, from the number of AI-controlled characters to the specific weapons that will spawn, can also be tweaked.
It should also be noted that Dollar Dash seems to have been made with large HDTVs in mind. The camera can zoom out quite a bit, and even the icons representing which weapon you’ve picked up looked downright miniscule on my average-sized set. The game will still be technically playable for most, but this is still an inconvenience worth noting.
Dollar Dash is, overall, a decent and enjoyable title. The unlock system helps to provide replay value, and while not all the modes and control elements are winners, the other aspects help to make up for it. It’s not the kind of game that will win numerous Indie Game of the Year awards, but I was able to get a good amount of enjoyment out of it and would definitely recommend you check it out.
This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game that we received for review purposes.