A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher's approach to solo cooperative play can be an entertaining novelty, though the steep price of failure makes it tough to truly invest in.
Everything about A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher seems incomprehensible at first glance, from its name to its menu screen to how it plays. This single-player, splitscreen arcade shooter raises eyebrows by having players simultaneously pilot two ships with two disparate purposes. One attacks, the other collects resources, but there’s more at play than that. Once you’ve wrapped your head around the strange concept, Trackher can become a decently entertaining and novel take on the genre.
Trackher divides the screen into two sides, each with its own ship. The blue ship on the left has a straightforward job: destroy waves of descending enemies similar to classics like Galaga. Conversely, the red ship’s mission is much more involved. In a top down view, it must collect items scattered across a wide field while dodging hazards. Additionally, a wall of fire surrounding the border will periodically close in on the red ship, resulting in Game Over unless you retreat to safe space in the middle.
Each ship is controlled with a respective analog stick and using them in tandem is key due to how they play off of another. Destroying ships on the left screen spawns Material on the right. Collecting this Material with the red ship drops an upgrade for the blue one, increasing its rate of fire and unlocking additional weapons. The red ship must also collect Parts to bolster its own abilities, such as a speed boost and the ability to pan the camera back to view the entire field. Nailing a high score is the name of the game but only if you can finish the mission in one piece. Dying erases your score, and the only way to preserve the thousands of points you’ve racked up is to gather enough Parts to activate a mission escape and flee in one piece.
For a while, playing two different gameplay styles at the same time feels like patting your head and rubbing your belly. Failure often comes from focusing too much on one side and neglecting the other. Gameplay divides your attention in a way that can feel disorienting but it eventually coalesces into an entertaining change of pace. It’s neat to cooperate with yourself like this, and the shooting and movement controls admirably. Higher tiers of play up the fun factor with devilish challenges like inverted controls/screens, screen swaps, and even mirrored play fields.
On the downside, it can feel taxing to spend so much time and effort building up upgrades and approaching the end only to fall short and have to repeat the long process over. Losing your score each time is especially devastating as saving your performance is often the only consolation in a game like this. This steep cost of failure makes Trackher less enticing to want to try again over and over and more like something you’ll pick up for a round or two before losing patience.
Tutorial videos located on the somewhat confusing menu are a must watch as there’s no playable tutorial. They’re easy to miss though which can leave you clueless as to what to when trying the game for the first time. For something as unique as Trackher, a playable tutorial that walked through the main mechanics step by step would be welcomed. It’s no fun having to study an information dump of videos and then having to retain everything you just saw in practice.
A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher is an inventive idea that will likely leave you cross-eyed but mostly smiling. The penalty for failure feels a bit much but those up to the challenge will enjoy having their dexterity, observation, and patience tested like never before.
A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher is available now for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a digital Switch download code for the purposes of this review.