RELEASED: June 27, 2005
AVAILABLE ON: GBA, GCN, PC, PS2, Xbox
DEVELOPER(S): 7 Studios, Torus Games (GBA), Beenox Shift (PC)
The Fantastic Four - Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm - were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961, and these astronauts turned superheroes went on to become some of Marvel's most known stalwart heroes for decades to come. However, they lacked the push of many of their peers. Apart from a few short-lived cartoons, the Fantastic Four never had much extra to back it up; there was never a live-action TV show made out of it, and plans for a live-action movie fell through in 1994 - some bootleg copies of this somewhat of a cult flick are in circulation, though. Well, in 2005, the producer of the aforementioned movie, Bernd Eichinger, went on to produce another Fantastic Four movie for 20th Century Fox. Some days before the premiere of this highly anticipated live-action reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise, a few games loosely based on the movie were released as early promotion. After the movie was out, people found themselves struggling to decide which they hated more - the movie or the games. That bad, huh? Let's see how the Game Boy Advance version fares.
Not fantastic, but almost bearable
Four astronauts and their financier return from a space flight severely changed. Due to exposure to cosmic rays, Reed Richards' body becomes completely elastic, Susan Storm can become invisible and create kinetic shields by will, her brother Johnny is able to fly and engulf his whole body in flames, and finally, Ben Grimm turns into a hulking rock monster with superhuman strength. Using their newfound powers for good, they are given the nickname "Fantastic Four". Meanwhile, the fifth passenger, Victor von Doom, is silently witnessing his life and career crumbling down due to the failed flight, and upon discovering his slow transformation into organic metal and the ability to control electricity, he decides to have his revenge on the people's pet foursome.
|The dialogue ain't for the serious.|
When the Fantastic Four movie was announced, at first I was kind of intrigued, but that passed quickly. I didn't believe the movie would have any potential to rekindle my relationship with the Fantastic Four, 'cause it looked fucking ridiculous. Not only did Michael Chiklis look ridiculous in that Thing make-up - it was Michael Chiklis. Perhaps you grew up with Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey in The Shield, I grew up with Michael Chiklis as Tony Scali in The Commish. I didn't exactly expect clobberin' time.
|Clobberin' time! (Don't ask me what the|
fuck's wrong with the camera.)
I've seen so many games of its artificial kind on the Game Boy Advance that it's hard for me to determine how nice it looks. Well, if we take two extremes - Terminator 3 (the ugly one) and 007: Everything or Nothing (the pretty one) - I'd say Fantastic 4 is closer to the latter. The level design might be bland, but character animation is superb, and well, at the very least it's one of the few games that doesn't have stills from the movie for cutscenes - I despise those. The game is based on the movie very loosely, anyway. Almost everything in the movie does take place in the game, there's just plenty more for gameplay's sake - like bosses ranging from Annihilus to Moleman, who make this game a curious trip for any Marvel fan to take, regardless whether they liked the movie or not. The sound's quite horrid. There are some good parts to some tunes, but basically, they all sound the same. The voice samples are produced pretty good, and what's most important, they're brief and rare enough.
|And this is why they call me Mr. Faaaaaaan-|
...But, the game is extremely dull. Every good idea there is besides the very basic beat 'em up is somewhat incomplete and unnecessary, like the hacking "puzzles" which are not really puzzles at all; finding a match to a figure with no time limit and plenty of tries from a short list is like a puzzle for a two-year old. The scripted special actions for each member turn up less often the further you get in the game, and it seems they're thrown in just to make the game look good and neat, and perhaps to divert attention from the fact that the levels are long, confusing, and copy-pasted to eternity. And another thing...
|Back in your hole!|
The bottom line, though, is that people are being way too hard on this game. It's dull, bland and way too easy, there's no doubt about any of those things, but at least it's playable, unlike many similar Game Boy Advance titles I've played and outright hated. Clever and responsive controls, that's a good start for any game.
+ Fantastic character animation
+ Good controls in a clever scheme with a large moveset
+ An interesting supporting cast
- Difficulty level: effortless
- Every good idea beyond a standard beat 'em up is a waste
- The levels are long and dull, and there's not a map or waypoint system of any sort
- The camera acts very weird
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