maanantai 23. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (2005)

GENRE(S): Action / Fighting / Platform
RELEASED: October 2005
DEVELOPER(S): Heavy Iron Studios, Helixe (DS, GBA)

The Incredibles ended in the ominous rise of a new supervillain named the Underminer, but no sequel to the movie was ever planned - so they decided to make a video game instead. The game was originally released for Windows, but just a while later a port came out on the major consoles of the era. Nintendo's two handhelds got their own, stripped versions of the game as well. The home version of the game enjoyed decent reception as semi-formidable co-op entertainment. The Game Boy Advance version has fewer levels, no co-op and as a game, it's like the first one for the handheld, decorated with simple puzzles and elements from traditional platformers. It's a bit more innovative than the previous title, but not much greater fun to play.

Switch-a-roo your way to victory

Three months after saving the world from Syndrome, the Parr family's faced with a new challenge by a mole man bent on world domination, who calls himself the Underminer. Mr. Incredible and Frozone team up to take him and his army of robots down.

Get ready for an incredible slam!
Let's get straight to the point since Rise of the Underminer is not based on a movie. What we have here is a hybrid - a hybrid of a platformer and a fighting game. Essentially, the Game Boy Advance version follows the first game's example, but I guess the platform jumping and interactive elements are added in to make the game feel a little less tedious. Well, I don't know about that. While they did work on making gameplay a little more complex, they didn't cut off unnecessary length at all. There are only three actual levels, one boss fight and one tutorial in this whole game, but still it takes relatively forever to complete. Those three levels are long, and extremely repetitive. I've played so many repetitive games lately that I'm becoming repetitive myself, I know! But that's just how it is.

At first, Rise of the Underminer is a very interesting game and it makes good, easily learned use of the whole button scheme of the Game Boy Advance. After just one level, though, you've learned everything there is to the game, and seen all of its different features. You'll just have to bear it from there on out. Although there are different stipulations to the levels - such as ice, hrrrgh... - you're essentially playing the same level over and over again, until the game is over. I really thought they could afford to put a little more thought into the level design this time around, since having no license to worry about usually equals liberty.

Just chillin'.
The game looks weird, its cutscenes sport a cheap comic book style in contrast to the licensed game's CGI. The in-game graphics are pretty much the same as in the first game, although since the game incorporates those new elements, it's in strict 2D. All in all, it doesn't deliver anything that special. The music is still quite all right, it's a bit more aggressive stuff, but still jazzy enough to fit the theme perfectly, and it changes often enough.

Although the game is called The Incredibles, all members of the Parr family make their only appearance in the opening cutscene. Mr. Incredible and Frozone are the only playable characters, and to make progress, you need to switch between them constantly by simply pressing L. Mr. Incredible possesses amazing strength. He's much better to use in combat than the ranged but weak Frozone, he can lift up gates, smash up pipes, and drive some certain platforms into the ground with his powerful slam attack. Frozone, on the other hand, can freeze enemies and obstacles, create stationary platforms of ice, and also skate along a constantly forming layer of ice to places you can't reach with a normal jump. All of this makes up for some very interesting gameplay in the beginning of the game, but like I said, after just one single level, you've already done everything in the game. Now, you just need to do all of it about a hundred times more, put the Underminer back in his place, and watch as the game hits the same brick wall of end credits the first one did.

That Underminer's one evil, ugly dude.
The game is not difficult by any measure. It's a button masher above all and your success wholly depends on whether or not you can keep your lives intact during the dull and lengthy beat 'em up sequences against a dozen identical robots. Health items are a-plenty, if you can somehow muster up the interest to use Frozone's skating ability to check out the ceilings often enough. The aftertaste won't be too good, I guarantee you that. Once again, the game started out strong, and fell flat in record time. Completing it only made me numb, I didn't feel like success at all.

It's hard to say which Game Boy Advance title in the Incredibles franchise is the weaker or stronger one, but I'll give this game a lower rating because the developers didn't seem to learn anything essential about the mistakes they made with the previous game. They just gave us a hint of a better and notably more exciting game, but in the end, it's not that different from the first one: a needlessly lengthy, effortless beat 'em up with tiresome, dull level design. 

SOUND : 8.6


GameRankings: 54.90% (DS), 54.00% (GBA), 70.38% (GCN), 69.00% (PC), 59.00% (PS2), 65.20% (Xbox)

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