You're the titular Dick Tracy, on a case to rid the city of the notorious gang boss Big Boy Caprice. The game is a sidescroller action title where you take control of Tracy as he searches for clues and battles numerous gangsters and bosses.
The gameplay consists of Tracy walking left-to-right along the foreground of the screen, but the twist is that occasionally enemies will try to attack Tracy from the background, as they shoot "into" the screen. Tracy can pull out his Tommy Gun to shoot the background enemies. The boss battles in the game have this set up. Players have to quickly react to both the foreground and background action to succeed in the game. The game will ramp up the challenge with swarming enemies from both planes, forcing the player to do quick reflexes to deal with the action. Don't get too caught up in one enemy, because it only takes a second for another enemy to land a sneak attack on you.
Along the way, Tracy will encounter and fight iconic villains in thrilling boss battles, like Pruneface, Flattop, and Lips Manlis. The game has very detailed and colorful graphics, and a banging swing jazz soundtrack.
A Sega Master System version was also released.
This Video Game contains examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: Downplayed with Lips Manlis. He's still a criminal mob boss, but in this game he is a neutral party only trying to stop Big Boy from wiping him out, and only attracting the attention of Tracy when he sends the Brow to stop the shipment of nitroglycerin.
- Beat 'em Up: In some levels, Tracy loses the ability to use his gun and has to rely on his fists to punch enemies out. The game handwaves it by saying he ran out of bullets.
- Big Bad: While there are many gangsters and mobsters involved, Big Boy is the head honcho criminal Tracy is after.
- Boss Battle:
- Round 1: Itchy
- Round 2: The Brow
- Round 3: Lips Manlis
- Round 4: Pruneface
- Round 5: Flattop
- Round 6: Big Boy
- Chase Scene: Stages 2-B, 3-B, and 5-B has Tracy riding on the Police Car en route to his next clue. Enemies drive along the foreground and background trying to gun you down.
- Clockworks Area: Level 6-C Showdown At The Gearhouse is the final stage where Big Boy is fought. Be wary as Big Boy will shoot the gears to get them to drop on top of Tracy.
- Down the Drain: Stage 6-A takes place in a sewer.
- Every 10,000 Points: Subverted, the points do nothing. The only way to earn extra continues is to do well at the bonus shooting gallery rounds.
- Evil vs. Evil: Big Boy wants to wipe out Lips Manlis, his nearest competition in the city.
- Excuse Plot: Typical for games of the time.
- Gangster Land: The general setting.
- Grenade Spam: The Brow chucks sticks of dynamite at you before running away, Pruneface spams a series of grenades and doesn't stop even when being shot.
- Interface Screw: During the boss battle with Flattop. Flattop will periodically cut the lights to prevent the player from seeing him as he shoots them.
- Ink-Suit Actor: The likenesses of Dick and the mob bosses are based on the actors from the 1990 movie.
- Mob War: Tracy learns that Big Boy wants to get rid of Lips Manlis by blowing up his business with nitroglcyerin. Manlis sent the Brow to stop the shipment.
- One-Hit Kill: All the mooks die in a single shot or punch. Averted for bosses, obviously.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Inverted. Players are rewarded a bonus for not blasting everything in sight with the Tommy Gun.
- Sega Hard: Starts out pretty mild, but turns the gears way up by Round 4. Round 6 is a meat grinder.
- Shooting Gallery: There are bonus stages between the levels set in a shooting gallery. Pressing the right buttons to shoot the right targets can earn some extra continues..
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- Lips Manlis was executed by Big Boy and his goons in the film, but in this game he is just defeated and survives.
- Likewise, Big Boy doesn't get the Disney Villain Death and is just sent to prison.
- Quick Melee: Tracy punches enemies who are close to him instead of using his gun. You are rewarded extra bonus points for doing this.