“How do you make it play games, sir?” – Daredevil Dennis

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“They shouldn’t have put Dennis in the water if they didn’t want him to make waves”

Daredevil Dennis. If there was ever a name that someone who works as a stuntman for a living shouldn’t have it’s Dennis. Max would work, or Butch, or even Mark. But not Dennis. Never mind the Beano character in the Franz Ferdinand jumper, Dennis just isn’t a very “hard” name, it’s a name for people who work shop floors or in banks. It’s not designed for people who look the world in the eye. Has there ever been a monarch or dictator called Dennis? Exactly.

I’m drifting. Daredevil Dennis is a brilliantly simple game for the BBC Micro and, after an awful lot of humming and hawing (Exile, which for a long time was intended to be the final game in this series, is just too damn complicated and I really can’t be arsed with complicated games most of the time, Dragon Rider which was briefly going to be its replacement is utter shit), it’s the game I’m going to be talking about today.

There’s not an awful lot to say, and I mean that in the best possibly way. DD (as I’m now going to annoyingly call it) has only three control keys – accelerate, break and jump. Taking control of the titular stuntman astride a motorbike, the player must complete a series of levels in which Dennis needs to perform a number of stunts (such as leaping a house or, erm, dodging under a massive bouncing policeman) in order to proceed to the next scene in which he will do much the same, often with different vehicles (speedboat, skis). The player earns money (ie score points) for performing these stunts and can obtain a little more by collecting yellow packages dropped by a helicopter although these sometimes knock Dennis for six instead, as does the chopper itself if Dennis happens to be doing one of his leaps around the same time as its flying overhead. If it looks like such a collision is on the cards and Dennis needs to leap an obstacle then the player can hit the “brake” key and he’ll stop, although he only seems to be able to do this once per level. The player has three “takes” (each one delivered with a nice little clapperboard animation) to get things right before being fired and, presumably, Daredevil Butch finishing Furious Man Jumps The Lighthouse And Bouncy Ball in 3D instead.

DD is addictive and fun for two simple reasons: it’s very easy to play and its very tricky. Even when you do master it there are several skill levels to test your mettle. Straightforward, easy to play, difficult to master, completely daft and above all fun. What videogames ought to be, in short.

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