maanantai 23. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Incredibles (2004)

GENRE(S): Action / Fighting
RELEASED: October 2004
DEVELOPER(S): Heavy Iron Studios, Helixe (GBA)

The Incredibles was Pixar's sixth full-length feature film, directed by Brad Bird, former director and creative designer of The Simpsons. As every Pixar film that came before it, The Incredibles was met by international acclaim, and as every Pixar film that came before it, it spawned a video game. Every game based on a Pixar film thus far had been notably different from the last; instead of being a platformer, The Incredibles drew most influence from arcade-style beat 'em ups that were popular in the golden age of 16 bits. Since The Incredibles only featured a few action-oriented sequences, and the game is told to be rather lengthy considering its simple style, I know exactly where I'm heading when I slap in this mother - to the sea of repetition.

Incredibly boring

15 years ago, Bob and Helen Parr were known as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. Their careers as superheroes came to a halt when it was decided by the government that all superheroes were to be banned due to the destruction they caused to the environment despite their good intentions. Bob can't take the normal life, so when he sees an opportunity to go back to his crime fighting ways, he does it, but soon finds out that his "top secret mission" is actually a plot against him, devised by his former, maniacal fan Buddy, who now calls himself Syndrome. With Bob imprisoned, it's up to his family to save the world from Syndrome's psychotic rage.

Mr. Incredible vs. the Death Star.
I know there are a lot of Incredibles fans out there, and it saddens me to say this but I think the movie is highly overrated. When I first watched it, it had some funny moments, but after it was over, I felt like I had just watched a three-hour CGI movie, although it runs for 115 minutes. On the second viewing, I fell asleep 30 minutes into it. It's that boring, I can't even begin to compare it to Pixar's best. I wasn't too ecstatic about trying an Incredibles video game, but when I heard that it's an arcade-style beat 'em up, I was a little bit more intrigued. The last arcade beat 'em up game I played that was a direct movie license was Batman Forever on the SNES. When I remembered this little trivia note, I trembled in fear and disgust, but then I remembered how good Batman Returns was. The Incredibles starts out almost as good, but loses its taste in just a matter of minutes. Like the movie in my opinion, this game seems to drag on forever and ever. It's easier than any game in the genre, too - it tends to get a little frustrating from time to time, though, but that's solely because of the controls.

The game looks quite all right, after all it doesn't take up a whole lot of capacity to put in four levels (the prologue, Syndrome's base, escaping the base and saving the city) with a million stages in each and copy-paste the same damn textures over and over again. There are seriously only a few different environments in this whole game, and a total of 40 damn stages! So it's the game's dullness that jumps on your face moreso than its wealth in colour and flashy animation. The soundtrack's a fine mix of some soothing, catchy jazz prominent in the movie, I have no complaints about the music.

She's certainly flexible. Grr.
This Game Boy Advance version features five playable characters: Bob and Helen Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, their children Violet and Dash, and family friend Lucius Best, a.k.a. Frozone. Each character works in a whole different fashion. Bob's levels are pure beat 'em ups. You can mow down enemies by running, and with the Incredi-meter (?) full, you can execute a devastating uppercut. There's also an AOE stun attack. Helen's levels are pretty much the same, but her attacks are different and they have more range (since she, like, bends and stretches to "infinity"). She can also strip enemies of their weapons, scale walls and hover in the air for a short period. The scene in which she turns into a boat is also in the game, as a 2D obstacle course. These obstacle courses are standard shite for the rest of the characters. Violet can't really do anything to enemies, her strategy is to use her invisibility and sneak past enemies, she also has a force field "attack" that has close to no effect in combat, in one of the last stages it's the key to success but only used for protection instead of combat. Dash just runs forward automatically, you occasionally have to jump an obstacle or two, hitch an occasional ride on mobile enemies, and bash their brains out. Finally, as Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson, muthafucka!), you automatically skate forward on a thin layer of ice, you need to quickly create ramps for yourself, and protect yourself from enemies and missiles by freezing them.

They always fall for the same trick...
The levels featuring playable characters other than Bob or Helen are really bonus material, there's not too many of them. The basic controls are sufficient, but both Bob and Helen are slow as heck, assuming you're not using Bob's running attack the whole time; Helen doesn't have one, but she possesses the standard attack range Bob totally lacks. It's incredibly (no pun intended) hard to hit some enemies in this game. Your characters are too slow to react to ranged enemies' attacks soon enough anyway, and flying droids are the worst since they fly from layer to layer - not only do you need to follow them horizontally to be able to land a punch or a stretch attack, you also need to keep up with them vertically. The few boss fights in this game are really annoying, the slow speed of your characters gains a few exclamation marks when it comes to the game's worst qualities during them. There are two bosses in this whole game - you'll be fighting the first one just once, while the other one shows up four or five times, and the strategy changes just once! This game really feels like you're vulturing around the same dead body, hours upon hours, without ever sinking your beak into it. You can forget about a climax, too - there's none to be had. Syndrome meets his demise in a cutscene. How exciting. After hours of exclusively frustrating, otherwise super-easy boredom, the game hits a brick wall and the end credits roll.

Of course the game could be worse, and I've got to admit that I enjoyed it for a while just because of the arcade nostalgia, but over 30 stages of beating up Syndrome's henchmen and droids, and just a few wake-me-ups thrown in between is a bit too much. I wasn't too taken by this game, but I'm going into the sequel semi-intrigued anyway, because it doesn't have any source material to follow - I'm expecting a little more diversity and variability from it. I'm probably going to be disappointed, but it wouldn't be the first time. 

SOUND : 8.8


GameRankings: 53.47% (GBA), 65.45% (GCN), 58.36% (PC), 64.71% (PS2), 63.53% (Xbox)

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