The Retro Critic

Dash Galaxy In The Alien Asylum

Dash Galaxy may sound like a brand of washing up liquid but it’s so much more.

Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, they were mere preludes to the true all-American space hero that is Dash Galaxy.

If you’re wondering who the heck Dash Galaxy is then you’ve clearly never played or heard of Dash Galaxy In The Alien Asylum, Dash Galaxy’s greatest Dash Galaxy adventure.

And if you think I’m saying the name Dash Galaxy too much that’s because I am.

The game in question, which was published by Data East, can be found on the good old NES and it’s essentially just another run-of-the-mill platformer with the odd puzzle to solve here and there.

Two key things to note about this one:

1/ It’s not very good and 2/ I think it knows it’s not very good.

Rocket Dash Galaxy

Story-wise, I couldn’t really figure it out for the longest time. All that happens is this little car drives towards a rocket which has still not left its dock, there’s some kind of lightning strike and, next thing you know, you’re on a spaceship moving boxes around like in that game Mordicus where you’re pushing bananas indirectly into these monkeys’ mouths.

Mordicus, anyone?


Fine, I’ll move on.

Those parts, incidentally, are the best parts as they require some kind of thought process and resemble a standard but playable puzzle game. All you do is figure out the best way to move the boxes in order to reveal the exits and, if you give up, you can always go back on yourself and be teleported somewhere else.

Boxes Dash Galaxy

Also the music is pretty good during these parts and, since it’s rather annoying in the rest of the game, that’s definitely a plus.

Think the music from the first level of the Back To The Future NES game but only slightly better and you’ve got the main theme for this game.

The top-down view as depicted in the screenshot above may not look like much and don’t expect much better from the rest of the game but definitely expect something pretty different.

Level 1 Dash Galaxy

Oh dear…

Yes, that is what a level in this game looks like.

I wanna say zero effort went into the design of this particular level but that’s not true.

They did make that cloud.

Cloud Dash Galaxy

Power-ups, doors placed completely at random, a character who’s basically just a man with jeans and a pull-over with not one but two obnoxious jumps to perform, platforms you can only really access if you jump on the correct pixel…

It’s not exactly stellar work, people.

I hate to sound so whiny and negative, though. Gotta find a plus point to balance things out. Ok, here’s one: the colour palette is appealing enough!

Pink Dash Galaxy

Or… at least it is when it’s not ALL PINK or brownish and inside-your-nose green.

So much for not complaining.

I mentioned the jumping but it’s hard to convey just how much of a pain it is to hop in this game. Plus I feel like, in a game that’s basically all about jumping from one platform to the other, the jumping should have been a priority when developing it. Walking is fine since you can also run but both jumps are broken. One sends you straight up and is cruelly delayed.

The other is this:

Jumping Dash Galaxy

The man looks like he’s tripping on his friggin’ shoelaces!

The tragic thing is that this jump, while absolutely ridiculous, is a split-second faster than the other jump so you’ll find yourself using it a lot in this game. Doesn’t that just sound like hours of pure fun times?

Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s hilarious!

Every time you jump like that, it’s an event and even the aliens around you have NO idea what you’re trying to do.

Jump Enemy Dash Galaxy

Who knows where you’ll end up? Remember the movie Speed? When the bus reaches the end of the road and all that’s left is for it to somehow fall upwards for like a hundred meters and make it safely to the next part of the road? It’s just like that.

Except sometimes you don’t make it.

As for the enemies you fight throughout the game, what can I say?

I can’t really describe most of them. I *think* some are bats, some are things with eyeballs (see above), bits of rock, some are maybe frogs, or half-frogs at least, it’s a smorgasbord of questionable entities.

My favourite, you ask?


Actually, I can sort of describe that one: it’s a lit spherical bomb on a pair of human legs which are wearing white trousers and black shoes.

You know, when you type it in it doesn’t sound that silly.

*reads back description*

Now it does.

Either the developers were really not trying with this game’s design or they were trolling us and have been laughing at us since 1990. In fact, had they gone for something purely surreal and intentionally funny, this could have totally worked as a game! Even if playing it was a bit annoying, at least the humour would have kept us entertained.

With a name as cool as “Dash Galaxy In The Alien Asylum” you could have easily made a really cool game: lots of crazy-looking creatures, perhaps a space-shooter level, a tongue-in-cheek story in the vein of the Earthworm Jim games, goofy power-ups and weapons…

But no: poor old Dash Galaxy was short-changed, to say the least, and so were we.

Dash Galaxy

Not that the game is completely unplayable, it’s definitely one you can sit and play through from start to finish but I can’t guarantee you’ll love every minute of it. I’d basically expect you to lose patience about halfway through and start playing something much better on the NES. There’s a sense that most of the effort went into coming up with an eye-catching title and some awesome cover art but very little effort went into actually making a good game. Which is a shame since there was a promising puzzle game in there somewhere.

This is also one of those games that only makes sense if you’ve read the manual where the story is explained to you. Something about Dash Galaxy being kidnapped and thrown into some kind of alien asylum he’s trying to escape. Not much more info than what the title gives us, frankly.

A proper plot would certainly have made the game’s ending less anti-climactic.

Ending Dash Galaxy

EXCLAMATION POINTS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !


Wait- are those stars or fireworks?

Oh, that’s right: I don’t care.

Dash Galaxy In The Alien Asylum may not be the worst game on the NES but it’s very much a skippable effort.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a space bubble-gum slide to enjoy.

Slide Dash Galaxy