Every kid growing up thinks their dad is the toughest man alive, he can take on anyone. Dad Beat Dads throws this childhood mindset into an arena style beat em’ up. Dads from all walks of life gather ’round to show their best while competing in multiple modes for parental glory. While the concept captured my attention, the game itself squandered it almost immediately. With a minimal selection of game modes and features, Dad Beat Dads feels like “Deadbeat Dads” all too soon.
Developed by Stellar Jay Studios, Dad Beat Dads allows the player to pick from one of eight types of dads and compete in three game modes. That’s right. There is only three, linear, basic games modes in the entire game. No attempt at a story, challenge mode, survival type, nothing. It just felt rather empty and incomplete. The selection of dads the player has to choose from are rather strange. Almost nonsensical. You have things like “Mechanic” dad and “Boxer” dad, and then it does a complete turn and gives you “Dino” dad, “Fish” dad, and even “Shark” dad. These bizarre, fantasy fiction choices kind of felt like the game was deriving too far off the path from its cool concept.
The first of the three modes in Dad Beat Dads, and my favorite, is Diaper Sniper. The basic concept is you and the other dads must try to hit each other with a brick wrapped in a diaper, whoever gets the most hits in the given time limit wins. You can punch the diaper out of the carriers hand forcing them to fumble it, where the fun ensues. It can become frantic, but just enough for the players to still have a grasp on the fight. The second mode is Smash N’ Grab. Here each dad must try to take their opponents babies and bring them to their respective color coded door. Think capture the flag, but with babies. The third, and final mode is Corporate Ladder. Your goal here is to grab as many coins as you can while fighting off dad-goonies as you jump platforms on a constant ascending stage. The dad with the most coins at the top wins. I wish there were more meat on the bone with this game. I truly like the concept, but the modes grow boring way too quick.
Dad Beat Dads presentation isn’t bad, but not very remarkable either. The colors are bright and the textures are sharp. This isn’t saying much though because there aren’t many colors, or textures to even display. Now I’m not saying this game is expected to look like a graphical powerhouse, but some modern lighting and shadow work would have been not too much to ask. Especially when we are well into the next-gen machines, bland bare-bones visuals become less understandable.
Controlling all these dads can become wonky at times. I noticed anytime it came to picking up items, the controls felt unresponsive and slow. Especially in Diaper Sniper and Smash N’ Grab. Many times I found myself on the losing end of rounds because I simply could not pick up items/babies after multiple times trying. Even jumping and attack inputs felt laggy. It’s one of those unfortunate situations where poor controls really effect the overall experience of the game.
Sound design in Dad Beat Dads falls under the mediocrity beat. The high energy tunes in the title screen and stages do carry a foot tapping vibe, problem is with only three stages the vibe dies quickly. There’s no voice over work to engage with either. Other than grunting, the characters feel pretty lifeless. The quality of the score isn’t so much the problem, it’s just the lack of more stages for it to be heard on is the true flat note.
All in all Dads Beat Dads is a cool concept for what could have been a really fun title. Sadly, lack of content and a single player component just has this game come up short. There are some sparks of joy in modes like Diaper Sniper, but it all seems to fizzle out within the hour. Perhaps new modes and features will be added at a later time, but for now no dads take the glory in this competition.
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