This game consists of ten arcade mini-games based on the Don Bluth animated movie with the main characters voiced by Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLouise. Charlie the dog, a good guy but a bit of a scoundrel, is bumped off by an evil 'crime lord' of a dog and ends up in heaven but yearns to go back to earth to set things right. The game starts there, if you play the story mode. Plot points from the movie are used to loosely tie the mini-games together, but you can also pick your own game.
Among the different mini-games, there's a Hangman clone, a session of The Towers of Hanoi, a run around the city to try to find the girl's house, a maze-crawl through a ventilation system, and a Rat Race that pits you as a rat called Squad Car trying to win a race against three to five other rats. There are three difficulty levels to choose from.
In 1989 an animated movie by the title All Dogs Go To Heaven was made. For all who might have not seen it, here's a short plot summer.
Charlie, the gambling dog is killed by another dog Carface, who wants to take over the gambling business. Naturally Charlie (being a dog and all dogs go to heaven) ends up in heaven, but not being content with his fate, he decides to return to Earth and have his revenge. He cheats his way back to Earth and with the help of his friend Itchy (who knows Charlie has dies) starts planning his revenge. On the way they meet a little orphan girl Anne-Mary (probably from the Doolittle family) who can talk to animals. Now Charlie has to prove that he is worthy of returning to heaven when he dies again, because otherwise this doggie is going straight to hell.
In the same year a computer game came out, carrying this very same name and presenting the characters of the movie in their quest. Well, the story is actually given by cartoon like narrative scenes between the action parts, but still, you can get the idea.
The game itself is a combination of various (all seen before) sub games through which you must play your way through in order to progress in the story. There is an option of practicing each sub game, but given the difficulty I doubt any real gamer would have the need to do so, that's why you can go straight to the entire game. You might want to start at the easiest level though at first (there are three).
And here are the sub games (with short descriptions of what you need to do):
01. Rat Race: You're the black rat in the back. You need to race the course and stay clear of the obstacles. The rat in front of you will sooner or later hit an obstacle and fall. Then you'll overtake that rat and be stuck behind the next one. Once you overtake them all (the standings are in the top left corner) you're the winner.
02. Watch Arcade: You're in heaven and your life watch has stopped. You need to collect all the watches, just be careful that the pink bitch (it's OK, I'm really talking about a female dog) doesn't see you.
03. Catch the Flea: Is an Arkanoid clone in which you need to get the ball to the X marked flea in the wall of bricks. Just be careful, the ball bounces somewhat strangely.
04. Rescue: You and Itchy are in the ventilation system and need to get to the room where Anne-Mary is held captive. It's not a difficult maze, so you needn't worry.
05. The Great Escape: You're a good doggie and that's why you'll build the stairs for the little orphan girl to escape. Now go and fetch the sticks.
06. Junkyard Chase: You have to be very fast now and collect the prize waiting for you (well, not quite waiting).
07. Stables: This is the place where you'll learn your ABCs. Type in the letter and if it's in the name of the character wanted, Anne-Mary will show it to you. Now solve the puzzle!
08. Junkyard Jigsaw: You'll see a picturesque view of the junkyard (yuck) and the picture will fall apart before your very eyes. Put the pieces back together!
09. 402 Maple Maze: As the title already says, it's a maze and you need to navigate through the city and find the correct address.
10. Dog Fight: No high flyers here. It's a real dog fight (with fleas in the fur and everything). You need to force your opponent off the screen. Down ducks, up strikes with the paw (and hopefully hits the schnozzle of the other dog) and left and right (surprisingly enough) move you left and right.
All in all, this is a game that can bring some fun, but you must remember that it was primarily meant for younger players, the age group the move most appealed to (children aged between 6 and 10). The sub games are different enough and can be enjoyed (unfortunately every time you play it's all the same) and the scenes explaining the story are nicely made, so you might wanna keep it, just so you could have a nice and somewhat different (you could even say original) story to tell to the wee ones. So there are some pluses and some minuses. In the end they cancel each other out and we get a game with an average score (but by no mean an average game).
As for the technical part, I can say a game is not bad at all considering the year it was made, but far from great. I had some problems setting it, so I guess I'm stuck with the PC speaker voice settings and no working joystick.
The sound although coming from the PC speaker includes singing (you can hear the voice of Dom DeLuise singing the movie theme song), but is unfortunately of very poor quality (as though you'd be listening to an old scratched up record - over a cell phone with very bad signal and a lot of background noises). So you might want to switch the sound off (F1 does the trick).
At least the game has nice enough EGA graphics (they're the same as the Tandy graphics and better then CGA naturally). You should run the DOGSE file for that (DOGST being Tandy mode and DOGSC the CGA mode naturally). Unfortunately the animation is far from smooth. You'll se the sprites flashing and twitching quite a lot, so you might want to play a little bit with the cycles (oddly enough I couldn't determine the optimum speed, but it shouldn't be lower then 1000 cycles and no higher then 3000 - which already makes the game slightly too fast).
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