To begin, after you coin up and press Start, here's the story of the game.

As it's actually really hard to read in that font, here's the text verbatim for your perusal:

one day, lucy was playing with her pets bin and pin in a beautiful flower garden.
then suddenly an evil black shadow appeared and changed into "achacha the great" while they were watching.
lucy startled and frightened, was kept in a miracle ball and taken away to the achacha world by "achacha the great"!
therefore bin and pin rose up and ventured into the achacha world to rescue her.

Before each stage, you get a little map showing the name of the area, the bosses you'll fight, and... The available routes?

Yes, Dynamite Düx has branching paths! It's not as big a deal as you think, but it's a neat little feature that adds a bit of spice to repeat playthroughs- after the mid-boss in each stage, you can choose to take the upper or lower path, which usually have different weapons and may even have enemies you won't see on the other path. The game kinda makes the decision for you- the end of the screen you're on as you approach the path decides which path you can take (the other will get blocked by a sign, assisted by an invisible wall) but it's still a novel feature for its time. Both paths eventually converge to meet the boss, but we'll discuss both and say if one's better than the other for preparing for the boss.

For now though, it's time for these ducks to go amuck, let's start our journey in Down Town!

Even if it doesn't play like most scrolling brawlers, Dynamite Düx knows that it's contractually obliged to start in a city area, and that's what Down Town is... Except Düx has more street-cred than most, as there's some real shops here! Well, sort-of, as they're definitely not here legally, but one of the first things you see is a Kentucky Fried Friend Chicken complete with a statue of the Colonel. This is actually accurate, in a way- Japanese KFC outlets have statues of Colonel Sanders either inside out outside the store, and there's even an urban legend about a sports team being cursed by a statue of the Colonel after it was vandalised! The other real-life store you'll see is 7-Eleven (spelled 7-Yleven to keep the lawyers away) another very common store in Japan. We'll see both the Colonel and 7-Yleven again later, even!

(We would like to thank btribble of unMAMED who pointed out it says Kentucky Friend Chicken. We've missed this for years. We're smart!)

... Oh wait, should probably actually talk about the stage itself.

Ahem. So, the first section gives you a taste of some of the most basic enemies in the game, the ones you'll be fighting on basically every level. First up are the dogs, the sausage-shaped mutts who look like they're harmless but then open their mouths to reveal a full set of razor-sharp teeth (they home in on you, so punch them as they approach), the deer that basically act like the dogs but move quicker, and the roller-blade cats who move very fast but will glide past you if you let them. You'll also find some more stationary foes like the mortar-firing kangaroo who locks onto your position and fires (manovure around 'em and lamp 'em) and water spouts that obviously hurt you because you're a duck. Finally, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it enemy in the form of a group of rats who you'll either have to jump or get hit by, because they move that fast. You're also introduced to three key weapons- the rocks, the bombs and the rocket launcher. If you can, try and hold on to the rocket launcher as long as you can so you can use it on the first miniboss...

Fire! F-f-f-fire! It's a giant fire. See, that's why the water pistols are here. Despite what common sense would dictate, you can't punch the fire with your fists without being hurt. I'm as disappointed as you are. You can, however, use any weapons you picked up before the boss on it, so if you've got a few rockets left, feel free to pelt it with 'em. The giant fire doesn't move, but launches tiny flames to hurt you, so the best approach is to keep moving and fire at it with the water pistol constantly. Of course, what you can try out here is the game's eight-direction attack system- as you circle around it, try firing at it from above or below! Also, watch out that getting hit makes you drop your weapon, but unlike every other weapon in the game, the water pistol will never fly off-screen or out of reach.

And so we end up at our first path split.

Upper route or lower route? Which is gonna be, my dear Düx?

(As a note, when we talk about route splits, the upper route will be the left screenshot, the lower route on the right.)

The upper route is pretty pedestrian- mostly enemies you've seen already by this point, except for the homing missile enemies who will dog you throughout the entire game- but it also has a bottomless pit you can fall down, and lots of mortar enemies to sidle paste. The lower route is much more interesting,leading you to the subway, which has boxing alligator enemies that spit the word 'ROAR' at you if you wait long enough (and lose their mouthguards when you smack them- ouch!) and also has some neat Sega-related posters. It's mostly notable for introducing the flamethrower, a unique weapon in this game. You get a lot of ammo for it and it's quite fun to use (even if it's got the shortest range) but the ammo constantly ticks down whether you're using it or not. Even if you don't get it for that long before it runs out of fuel, it's handy here as the alligators tend to attack in large, densely-clustered groups. Enjoy it while you can!

Whichever route you take, there's a machine gun just before the boss, so be sure to grab it, it'll be handy!

The first proper boss is a rock with eyes surrounded by a shield of eight boulders, which spin around and fan out to try and whack you, then contract shortly afterwards. Use the machine gun you just grabbed to make a dent in at least a few of the rocks, then try and use your charge-up punch when they fan out to hit them safely- as you destroy more boulders, they cover more of the area as they fan out, but if you stick to the pavement at the bottom of the screen (the very bottom!) and make sure the boss is to either side of you, you can use your charge-up punch to hit the boulders and not get hurt yourself. Just be sure not to take too long, as the time up demon will rob health from you without the Danger warning coming up! Keep it up and once you destroy all the boulders, the rock in the centre gives up and explodes. First stage done, job's a good 'un!

After each stage, your duck goes through a magic door...

... Then through a sea of clouds...

... To the next stage. Which is Japan, obviously. Wait, Japan? I thought we were in the Achacha World? I'm so confused...

The opening section is actually very short here, but it introduces two new enemies- one you won't see again for a while, and another that will really get on your nerves. The one-timer is the pig, the only standard enemy in the game who can take more than one hit. He moves very slowly, but when hit once he'll turn red and dash across the screen, so you're best either hitting them twice quickly or ignoring them. The more annoying enemy is the mole, who first appears as a moving dirt-pile on the floor (must've taken the wrong turn at Albuquerque) then pops up and hits you. It tries to track you too, so when you see the dirt pile, run. Aside from those guys, not much going here aside from a machine gun near the end that you'll need for...

... The mid-boss! It's a dragon... Well, a make-shift one, at any rate. Each part of the dragon has its own health, but destroy one and all the ones behind it get destroyed too, so the obvious strategy is to take out the head at the front. Don't be a sitting duck, though! It's tempting to just pump him full of lead right at the start and stand still, but if you do, its flame attack will hit you and your precious machine gun's gonna fly off-screen. Best you don't let that happen, so instead fire pot shots at him from the middle of the screen, at the very least. If you do lose your gun, just smack the head when you get a chance, and this boss'll be over pretty quick.

The upper and lower paths here are pretty similar, with both giving you a flamethrower and homing missiles (which are even more useless here as the moles are the enemies you want to hit!) and both having roughly the same batch of enemies, including homing missile dogs and a new enemy, ninja dogs, who have a tendency to teleport in front of you. Each route has a unique hazard though- the upper path has fire geysers which are basically identical to the water spouts in Round 1, while the lower path has bottomless pits which are a little different from the ones in Round 1- they're more like cliffs, as you just fall off the bottom of the screen. Keep going and you'll eventually pass a 7-Yleven (no, really) and soon afterwards...

The second boss is a big ol' storm cloud. Similar to the first boss, it's surrounded by a shield, but this time there's only four, large clouds in your way. The clouds are always spinning close to the main cloud, but it also launches out spiralling bolts of lightning. Just before this boss there's a few bombs, so try and land them as soon as possible to give you an advantage at the start. From there, though, this is kinda tricky as you have to dodge the lighting as well, and there's no good spot to stand like the last time. You're best off keeping just close enough to land some charged-up punches and hoping for the best, as getting in super-close won't really work- the spinning clouds are too good at keeping the main one safe.

Duck and weave- get it? It's a boxing pun- to the next page.