The Copper Canyon Dixie Dash has the distinction of being a game that had us conflicted. Beginning life as a VR title, the first impressions were not so high but as the mechanical limbs and cowboy hats were blown off, bit by bit the charm began to sink in. Given its rocky start did it have enough, in the end, to warrant a must buy?
Brought to the Nintendo Switch by Black Dragon Studios, CCDD retails for $7.49 on NA eShop or £5.99 UK. Players assume the role of Dixie as she must assist her father to curtail the robot uprising at her father’s Wild West-themed amusement park. Please remove any image you may have formed of this being a playable form of WestWorld and that includes the Yul Brynner classic. Instead, players are treated to wave-based and at time claustrophobic cartoon shooter that has heart but that’s about it.
Visually Copper Canyon is a cartoonish looking title.
Everything is exaggerated from the robust clunky mechanical death machines to the levels themselves. It’s a shame that the “Amusement park’ aspect was not fully realised. Nothing about any of the stages feels like you are in a park of any sort. Unfortunately, the game only has 3 stages so variety is not the order of the day. This extends to the count them on one hand enemy variety. Players will see the same set of robots teleport into the shooting gallery from level 1 wave 1 to the final stage albeit with the obligatory BOSS BATTLES. Here players are situated in a circular corral where they must do battle with the same oversized menace who comes equipped with one new move each of the 3 times you have a shootout.
A shootout is the name of the game.
Copper Canyon, does not skimp on the second to second action. Unfortunately, the controls work against you too much. The button layout is awkward at first. Dixie by default is dual-wielding pistols, that can be iron-sighted with the left trigger. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work if your right pistol is empty. Instead, gunfire is all mapped to the right trigger alternating between your left and right pistol. The manual reload is a nice touch as it does force you to pay attention to your ammo as you will run dry if you’re not careful. The biggest conundrum has to be the movement. Initially, everything felt slow and sluggish. Those used to the frenetic pacing of other arcade shooters will immediately dismiss this. However, if you are willing to work with it, the pacing feels just right. When coupled with their version of bullet time, called the dash, players will find themselves in some intense shootouts.
Audio-wise CC is a mixed bag. Each of the 3 stages has its own background music which wile appropriate for the theme, fails to fit the action taking place. The sound effects are decent but ultimately become overly repetitive. This applies to the robot sounds. Again, this feels like another missed opportunity. Image & Form has set an incredibly high bar for other indie studios to reach for with their SteamWorld franchise. The personality and charm found with their characters is sorely lacking here.
What if? A question that can expand the mind and birth of new ideas and possibilities. When applied to a game, however, this can be a big red flag. In the case of The Copper Canyon, what if, serves as a tale of a game that lays a solid foundation but is just missing that extra care that could have made this a must-own title. While everything here functions and plays as intended, the sheer lack of depth and unrealised potential really drags this one down in the end. No leaderboards to encourage repeated playthroughs is the final nail in the coffin for this offering but we look forward to seeing what future releases from the development team hold.