TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Capcom’s ‘Cadillacs and Dinosaurs’ deserves revival from arcade extinction
While it certainly happens today, there’s something to be said about the hidden gems of yesteryear, especially in the realm of arcade games. In the 1980s and ’90s, arcades were chock full of popular titles, so much so that there were always a few diamonds in the rough, those that fell off the radars of gamers pumping quarters into their local “Pac-Man” and “Galaga” cabinets, or perhaps challenging a friend to a round of “Street Fighter II.”
Today on Turn to Channel 3, we take a look at a 1993 game that, while it isn’t necessarily shocking that it is fun considering the publisher behind it, you wouldn’t find front and center in most arcades of the time period – “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs!” This one has an interesting local connection too, as it’s based on the comic book (and short-lived animated series) “Xenozoic Tales” by writer/illustrator Mark Schultz, who lives in the Scranton area!
“Cadillacs and Dinosaurs” (arcade)
With a game this action-packed, you need a soundtrack to match, and composers don’t disappoint with some of the best Capcom beat ‘em up tunes you’ll hear. With a solid mix of up-tempo jams, tribal beats, and ominous boss music, the soundtrack truly captures that fun-never-stops atmosphere of “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.”
If that’s not enough for you, all of the punches, kicks, guns, knives, and explosions are well-done too, with an added bonus of dinosaur sounds and revved-up car engines for those of you who like a nice adrenaline rush with your gaming fun. While the minimal voice work is decent at best, I still love hearing the announcer yell out “Go! Go!” whenever it’s time to move on to the next part of the level.
With futuristic skylines, lush jungles, and creepy laboratories, just to name a few, there’s a nice variety of levels in this game, with some truly stellar backgrounds, some of which feature some nice attention to detail. The characters are all pretty cool, with solid animations throughout but, for me, the enemies and bosses are some of the best I’ve seen in a Capcom game for the time period, as mutants, dinosaurs, and “Mad Max”-inspired thugs all come at you full force.
However, speaking of graphics, there’s also a lot of blood and guts in this game, with the most notable scene in the game showing a double katana-wielding madman slicing into an already dead dinosaur, while other dead bodies are found throughout the level. Did I mention, while censored, this guy also curses at you? (OK, there’s no voice, but you know what he’s telling you!)
I guess you could say that, at least in this regard, this maybe wasn’t a game a lot of kids were playing because they weren’t allowed to!
Like many games of its kind at the time, “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs” is best played with a few friends, as each character definitely has their strengths and weaknesses, while a combination of them makes a solid team to more easily take down the bad guys. A plethora of weapons also helps in your daunting task, with each level introducing more and more difficult enemies and bosses, like all good beat ‘em ups should do.
If anything, and I think this is just because I’m older now, I felt like this game was a bit too long, like a movie with filler spots that didn’t do anything for the overall feel of the game. I mean, sure, it makes you long for games with more depth, but I was left feeling like this game was going to go on forever, which makes sense since it has a very thematic ending, which I won’t spoil it for you.
This game was based on a late 1980s/early 1990s comic book series, and it certainly packs a colorful punch all these years later. With so many other arcade and console classics from Capcom getting more publicity (perhaps because they didn’t have blade-wielding, cursing madmen in them), you may have never heard of or played this excellent beat ‘em up. If you get the chance to, go for it – just give yourself enough time to really delve into it and appreciate it.
Well, that does it for me. Join me next week as we review a game that is far tamer and quite thirst-quenching too, in its own way – “Root Beer Tapper!”
Until then, remember – Cadillacs and dinosaurs go together like peanut butter and jelly… I guess. If not, just mash them together anyway and game on!