torstai 11. syyskuuta 2014

REVIEW - Blade | GBC | 2000

GENRE(S): Action / Beat 'em up
RELEASED: November 14, 2000
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

Forgot about HIM, did you? Alongside The Punisher and Men in Black, Blade seems to be one of those characters you easily forget to have originated in Marvel Comics, thanks to the big differences between them and conventional superheroes, as well as the great success of the films in contrast to their cult status as comic book characters. Created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, Blade made his debut in Marvel's b-horror serial The Tomb of Dracula in the summer of 1973. He and Marvel's version of the Count himself became so popular that both went on to occasionally appear in both Spider-Man and X-Men. Blade got his short-lived solo serial, and a few one-offs in the 90's, but never really flourished as a worldwide comic book icon, which might have had something to do with his ethnic background - proven further by the fact that he was redesigned as a white man in the Spider-Man show. In 1998, New Line Cinema secured rights for a film starring Wesley Snipes as Blade, and with the film's release, Blade's popularity soared. A few Blade video games have since been released to promote the film trilogy. In 2000, two different games by the name of Blade were released, one for the PlayStation and one for the Game Boy Color. Although the games were labelled official movie merchandise, they had an original story unrelated to the first film, the only one out there at that time. The PlayStation game was mangled by critics, but the Game Boy Color version got decent reception. So, even while I just recently spotted a copy of the PlayStation game selling for much less than obscure PlayStation games usually do, I'll rather lift up my mood with this Game Boy Color... beat 'em up. I don't like where this is going - but I'll give it a shot.

He's coming for you, Edward

Some dancing troupe. Might
as well use 'em for target
Eric Brooks was born immediately after his mother succumbed to a vampire bite. Now known as Blade and both blessed and cursed with vampiric strengths, but none of the usual weaknesses, he is the very capable scourge of his "own people". Aided by his mentor and weaponsmith Abraham Whistler, Blade sets out to track down and kill everyone involved with a group of vampires calling themselves New Blood in one night.

My history with Blade is pretty much identical to my history with Daredevil; as was the case with the man without fear, I got to know Blade watching a Spider-Man episode co-starring the vampire hunter, but didn't really know the character before the movies came along - not very long after that, actually, I can't believe 16 years have passed since the first film. The films were quite loosely based on the comic book, to keep kids out of the theaters I suppose, 'cause they were quite brutal in both action and language, in comparison to most comic book flicks of the time. Nowadays it's standard to have an exceptionally raunchy comic book film, as every Frank Miller comic book seems to be systematically adapted to a movie or a full-length animated feature, but back then there was a strict line of what you could and couldn't do in a comic book adaptation. So perhaps the movies made Blade popular, but also his comic book origins even more obscure than they already were.

Why can't I move like that?
I wasn't too excited with the movies; my ex was a fan, and without her, I'd probably never watched them. I liked Trinity the best, for two notable reasons: Triple H, as I was a huge wrestling buff back then, and the amazing Jessica Biel in a few even more amazing outfits. Nowadays, while the Twilight series is eating its way into mankind's brain like a filthy worm, I have just as much respect for Blade as I do for anything vampire-related that came before Twilight. I'd rather watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie I mean, the show rocked!) or Dracula 2000 ten times in a row than watch one whole minute of that nauseating, horribly acted manure they call a vampire story. I wish they'd do a Blade/Twilight crossover which lasts for exactly one minute, where Blade nonchalantly chops that sparkly sumbitch's head off. End of story. In a post-credits scene, he hunts down that girly werewolf too. And the sequel has him driving a machete through Kristen Stewart's hollow skull, just for sport, just to complete the circle. Yeah, I'd like that - I'd like that very much. How about a Blade-themed beat 'em up, then? Well sure, why not? ...On a two-button Game Boy, you say? Uhhhhhh... well, OK... it's the work of professionals, so who knows, maybe it hits me as a carving off TMNT's back rather than one of the X-Men games I suffered through recently.

Well, the game does look and sound good, that much is certain even before it's properly started, so that crosses out the stamp of "cheap quickie". Hell, it's got better audiovisuals than the Spider-Man games released on the Game Boy Color, not to mention the X-Men games, and both of those franchises sure as hell had more commercial value than a quick piece of movie merchandise released two years after the first film, and two years before the second one. Don't expect any blood, though. It's dry as a bone. It's a Nintendo game, and aimed at kids rather than the target audience of the film trilogy.

"Blood simple"?
Blade isn't entirely a beat 'em up game. In fact, it's an extremely inconsistent action game. In one level, you're wearing your full attire and shooting vampires left, right, up and down with a machinegun; in the next stage, you're suddenly stripped to your tees in a side-scrolling beat 'em up setting with a few very mild adventure game elements, and when you reach the boss of the level, you're wearing your full attire again and wielding Blade's trademark sword for a do-or-die type of generic mashfest. There are no reasonable explanations for the constant, sudden changes to your arsenal and the gameplay type. Even simply crouching and jumping are possible in certain types of levels only! You can upgrade your stuff at Whistler's workshop, but not knowing what you'll actually be needing in the immediate future gets you down. On the other hand, the different gameplay styles obviously (yet theoretically) smooth out the experience, 'cause a beat 'em up on a Game Boy is always a beat 'em up on a Game Boy.

Cue one of the Game Boy's most usual problems with lousy collision detection (coupled with crappy range), and the simple case of having too few buttons for an entertaining beat 'em up. There are a couple of advanced moves, namely an uppercut and an air roundkick for personal space, and a limited number of uses for a powerful, secondary weapon which stuns all enemies in one direction, triggered by a vintage A + B combo. The swordfighting type has its own special moves, but they slow you down and leave you prone to enemy attacks just as much as they help you out. Whichever the game type, Blade is not the most comfortable game around... but as has been the case a few times now, it's playable enough, and most of all, simple.

+ Easily learned mild entertainment
+ Good graphics and sound

- No blood
- General inconsistency
- Shoddy collision detection
- Needs more buttons

< 6.9 >

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