The ‘Third’ Dynamite Deka Game: EX

Dynamite Deka popularly filled in a beat ’em up void when the genre became a little less prominent by 1996. More commonly known for its Die Hard Arcade name in the United States, the game was a spotlight STV hardware title (the arcade’s SEGA Saturn equivalent) and used three buttons to craft movesets akin to a game like Virtua Fighter as opposed to singular attack strings most beat ’em ups afforded players.

This entry established the series themes of fighting in absurd action-movie style scenarios, being able to wield any matter of available items as weapons and quick-time events and cinematics that maintain a flow between each scene.

The series was brought over to arcades and the Dreamcast a few years later with Dynamite Deka 2, which was branded Dynamite Cop! in the US after no longer having the Die Hard license. This largely had the same setup as the original, but introduced a pirate theme to the enemy, as well as a new power-up system to increase the players’ offensive capabilities.

While perhaps neither of these titles were massive movers and shakers for SEGA, they certainly had their popularity, and largely everyone who was around arcades and SEGA products in the late-1990s is aware of what Die Hard Arcade and Dynamite Cop are.

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What likely slipped through the cracks, though, is Dynamite Deka 2/Dynamite Cop received a sort-of, but-not-really sequel 10 years after the release of the original entry. This brought us the Chinese-developed Dynamite Deka EX: Asian Dynamite – an “upgrade” to Dynamite Deka 2, if you will.

Die Hard Arcade got its home release on the Saturn, and Dynamite Cop got a well-timed release on the Dreamcast near the US launch to give it a little extra attention. However, an Asian territory arcade release is all Dynamite Deka EX ever had to offer. No US release. No home console release whatsoever.

Dynamite Deka EX eluded me until recent years. It wasn’t until I went to the far corner of an area Round One arcade that I found a cabinet featuring the game mixed in with the arcade’s standard fighting game offerings.

I spent quite a bit of time at Round One in advance of my birthday, and I made a point to fully check out Dynamite Deka EX on this trip. I’m very glad I did, because this brought to light that the game is actually a little bit more than a developer merely swapping out some graphics.

That being said, at its core, you are still playing Dynamite Deka 2. Even though the graphics are totally redone, if you’ve played Dynamite Deka 2 enough, you can pick out that EX still follows the same level paths as part two. However, because the environments and enemies have been completely reworked, it still manages to feel like an all-new adventure.

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Series mainstay Bruno Delinger – the character that served as John McClane’s replacement in the non-Die Hard versions of the game – is kept for this EX version, but this revision sees fit to replace the other two characters that were selectable in Dynamite Deka 2.

Thrust into this “new” fight is Caroline Powel. It’s hard to recognize at a visual glance, but looking at the name, fans will realize this is the president’s daughter from the original game grown up and kicking butt. The third character slot is filled by an original character named Jennifer Genuine.

Despite the layouts of the levels remaining the same, what likely still makes EX feel like its own game is the fact the developers have turned the power-up system completely on its head. The collection of icons to temporarily gain extra fighting power is replaced with a system of briefcases that completely transform your character.

As the player dispatches enemies, some of them will drop a briefcase. These briefcases come in one of three colors, with each color providing a completely different transformation for the characters. What makes EX even deeper is the fact each character has their own completely different set of transformations, effectively making 12 different characters playable in the game (three base characters, with nine total transformations).

I put my time into playing as Caroline, as she had a really controlling scorpion kick that came out quick and knocked enemies down. Picking up a silver briefcase turned her into “Miss China Connection,” which was my favorite transformation.

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Grabbing a briefcase from your base character triggers a quick Power Stone-style transformation sequence, and Miss China Connection puts Caroline in a Chinese-style dress and equips her with guns akimbo and a full stock of ammunition. Both attack buttons unleash a barrage of bullets in a stylish combination that also juggle enemies in the air.

You can pick up additional clips of bullets, just like you always could in the series for the handguns, but you’ll run out of your initial stock quickly. Thankfully, she still has a nice punch combination that is very fast and also juggles enemies. She can also jump and spin Matrix-style, and this move can hit enemies.

A gold briefcase gives her what appears to a sort of shrine maiden outfit, and she uses powerful punch strikes. The real gimmick in this transformation, though, is that if you press the kick button, she cycles between three different types of melee weapons.

One is a basic weapon with a hard knockdown after a couple of hits, another is stabbed into the enemy for an apparent short style of “bleed” attack and another shoots leaves so enemies can be hit at a distance.

This transformation also gives you a series of multi-input grapple moves where Caroline bends the enemies’ body parts into a pretzel.

The red briefcase I found to be weaker for Caroline, turning her into a Chinese ghost similar to what you see with Hsien-Ko in Darkstalkers. She has a weird hopping animation to move about, but she has one of the greatest grapple attacks ever – spinning the opponent in a circle a few times, planting them on their head and then delivering a quick chop to their unmentionables.

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Branching out to the other characters, Bruno gets a drunken kung-fu transformation and a transformation that turns him into a Hulk Hogan-style character, and Jennifer can transform into a strange Voldo (Soul Calibur) style of zombie or a magical jester.

Being powered up in Dynamite Deka 2 activated a meter that decreased over time, and this was shortened if you take damage. The power ups in EX also feature a meter, but it acts as more of a health meter instead of being timed. Thus, if you can avoid taking damage, you can theoretically be powered up the entire game.

When transformed, most of the damage is dealt to your power up meter, and once this depletes, you revert back to your original character form. However, picking up another briefcase refills this meter, and in the case of a character like Miss China Connection she also gets her ammo restocked.

It helps that the briefcases are bountiful throughout the playthrough, so, with having familiarity of Dynamite Deka 2, I was able to manage a 3-credit clear on my very first time playing Dynamite Deka EX.

One item that caught me off guard, though, was the introduction of a “quiz” style quick-time event. While the base QTE in the series is pressing a button or direction as prompted within a time limit, this quiz QTE asks a question and lists three multiple choices for the answers. The player then must choose between the options with punch, kick and jump to get the correct answer within the time limit.

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In my case at the arcade, all of this was displayed in Japanese text. Although I have a tiny bit of Japanese knowledge, I can’t possibly parse that much information in such a short time, so this segment amounted in me guessing. At the least, you have a 33% chance to get it correct, right? Luckily, in one of the playthroughs I was given a simple math question to answer, and I can do numbers.

The game is a straight-forward arcade affair, but it does offer some console-like flexibility in still providing the three level paths like in Dynamite Deka 2. Much like in the Dreamcast version, there are a variety of spaces in the stages where you can attack to unveil a hidden illustration item. In Dynamite Deka EX, you can collect these illustration items, and they are displayed like puzzle pieces as extra background illustrations behind the end credits of the game.

None of this is incredibly deep for a 2006 arcade game, but it still gives players something to return to if they credit feed through Dynamite Deka EX. Still, there are probably a lot of people who aren’t aware Dynamite Deka EX exists, so it probably won’t even come across people’s minds that this was released years after part two. While the graphics are changed up for EX, they still look on the level of the late ’90s Dreamcast release with no extra graphical muscles to flex using mid-2000s technology.

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At the end of the day, Dynamite Deka EX delivers the strange, hectic and satisfying brawling action the series is known for. It’s just as fun as playing Dynamite Deka 2, and it shockingly adds an extra layer of gameplay with the transformations when the developer could have just called it day after merely switching out the visuals.

If you disliked Dynamite Deka 2/Dynamite Cop, I doubt this EX version will persuade you differently, but fans of the series should find this revision to be a unique twist on a familiar formula. It’s just a shame there is no way to play this on a home console, but I’ve seen multiple people online claim they have had luck in emulating the game.

Dynamite Deka EX changes things up just enough that I had a blast playing it in the arcade. I was able to stream a playthrough of the game at the arcade, so if you would like to see Dynamite Deka EX in action with a little bit of commentary, you can head over to my Twitch channel and check it out!

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature

Author:djtatsujin

Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka (http://gemubaka.com). For business only: gemubaka at gmail

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  1. | Recent Arcade AdventuresGemuBaka - October 6, 2022

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    […] I was also able to stream from a specific corner of another arcade, which allowed me to highlight the crazy game Dynamite Deka EX and play through a couple of other fighting games, which included my first recorded games of Street […]

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