Dexter's Fight definitely has one of the more unusual themes out there. It is based on the cartoon series I used to watch when I was little, about a boy genius who owns a secret laboratory unknown to his parents. In this five (or two, to be more accurate) scenario campaign, Dexter's lab is under attack from his evil nemesis Mandark, whom he must defeat by building an army of robots.
PLAYABILITY: the scenario is annoyingly easy. You have to stop Mandark before he destroys your atomic research centre. Dexter can create robots my turning switches (read: tasking champions up and down a palisade enclosure). There are eight switches all together, each of which creates a different unit (long swordsman, two-handed swordsman, champion, archer, crossbowman, arbalest, janissary and elite teutonic knight). The trouble is, you start in post imperial, so no matter if you turn the long swordsman or two-handed swordsman switches, you get a champion either way. Basically gameplay consists of pumping out robots using switches, until you have a big enough army to defeat Mandark (who is waiting at the opposite corner of the map). Also, the standard AI is used, so one of Mandark’s units wanders off scouting, and you have to hunt him down before you get a victory message. The campaign might have five scenarios, but in reality only two of them are different. When I reached scenario 2, I got a sneaking suspicion that I was playing the exact same thing as the previous level, and I was right. The designer has copied the same scenario four times, each time with a different name. To be fair, there is one scenario that’s different, where Dexter’s sister Dee Dee is destroying your lab and you have to stop her, but that’s even quicker and easier than the other four. 1
BALANCE: I completed the whole campaign in ten minutes. It is impossible to lose unless you delete all of your units and buildings. In the four copied scenarios, Mandark only attacks on hard difficulty, but your base is covered in bombard towers, so his small army of infantry doesn’t get far. You can create an infinite number of robots to stop him as they cost nothing. The player is told that he/she loses if Mandark destroys the atomic research centre, but it is a monument so it can’t be destroyed, only captured. Just for the sake of experimenting (it is a lab after all) I deleted all of my bombard towers and lured a few of Mandark’s units towards my atomic research centre. They captured it, but nothing happened. The Dee Dee scenario consists of killing a group of 40 Joan the Maids with an army of champions and an El Cid Campeador hero. 1
CREATIVITY: you certainly don’t see a campaign based upon a Cartoon Network series every day. The switch trick is highly original, to my knowledge it has never been done before. Unfortunately, those are the only points of interest to be found in Dexter’s Fight. 3
MAP DESIGN: the map is completely covered in snow. While it certainly captures the feel of a pristine laboratory, it is not aesthetically attractive. Only one terrain type, and there is no eye candy at all. Buildings and masses of bombard towers have been placed seemingly at random. Only a small percentage of the map is actually used for gameplay, but the player is able to explore the whole empty map through a hole in the lab walls (this is also annoying because the AI’s scout unit invariably wanders out there, and you have to hunt him down). It probably would have been a better decision to enclose the lab completely with cliffs. 1
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: Dexter’s Fight has a small story told by instruction messages, but it assumes the player is familiar with the TV program. There are also hints explaining how to create robots, but not much else. 4
SUMMARY: I honestly cannot recommend this campaign to even the most die-hard fans of the series. Once the novelty of creating robots with switches wears off, the campaign doesn’t really have a lot of content.