tiistai 2. syyskuuta 2014

REVIEW - Daredevil | GBA | 2003

GENRE(S): Action / Beat 'em up
RELEASED: February 5, 2003
DEVELOPER(S): Griptonite Games

"The Man Without Fear", a.k.a. Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, first appeared in the first issue of his namesake comic book series in the spring of 1964. Although he was treated as one of the most interesting and distinctive superheroes ever created - due to his blindness - and though he made many appearances in other Marvel franchises such as The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man, Daredevil never really struck out on his own, and has been gone from the spotlight altogether for a long while now. The same goes for video games; although Daredevil has appeared in numerous games including just about every Marvel ensemble game (mostly candid cameos), the number of games which wear the Daredevil brand comes down to exactly ONE, and even that game is based on the only film thus far to wear the Daredevil brand. The film, starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner - who eventually became real-life husband and wife - premiered a week and some after the game's release, and despite a mixed reception from critics, it was a financial success considerable enough to spawn a spin-off starring Garner's Elektra. The soundtrack album was also quite successful and heavily boosted the career of the American rock band Evanescence. But how about the game? Not a notable beep from the critics or the audience; like the character of Daredevil himself, the game's been long forgotten. Unjustly so? I doubt it.

Blind fury

As a child, Matt Murdock was completely blinded while spying on his father Jack, who he found working as muscle for a local mob. Feeling responsible for his son's disability, Jack immediately attempted to get back to the straight and narrow, only to get himself killed by his former employers. Now, Matt runs an independent law firm in New York City with his best friend Foggy Nelson. What even the latter doesn't know, is that all these years Matt has developed severely heightened senses apart from his lost sight, and operates as a vigilante calling himself the Daredevil, targeting criminals who are considered to be above the law - including the man ultimately responsible for his father's death, Wilson Fisk.

All units, we've got domestic violence at the
Ah, Daredevil. This is the first and last time we meet Matt Murdock during this marathon in such a big role; I wish it'd be under happier circumstances. I first caught a glimpse of Daredevil in the 90's Spider-Man animated series, and he immediately became one of my favourite deuteragonists in that series, despite only appearing in two episodes. Since I hadn't yet realized how awesome Ben Affleck is as an actor (he's no Batman, though... just sayin') back in 2003, I skipped Daredevil in the theaters and decided to wait for the video release. I even watched that movie a few times, to write a review for a school project; even back then, if something sucked, it was fun to write about. Yeah, it did suck, in my opinion - the soundtrack was pretty good, though, and I still like Evanescence's first mainstream album as a casual listen. Affleck did his job pretty well from the dramatic angle, but pretty much everything else about that movie was a mess. Well, years later I saw Rex Smith as Daredevil in that one Hulk TV movie, and suddenly everything about Daredevil's namesake film felt like art... that's it for Daredevil in live action, unfortunately. I feel bad for the character. Turning to games, my theory is that they never came up with a good way to support the cause or incorporate Matt's disability into a game, and that's why as popular as he might've been at some time, he's been pushed back to a cameo in most of the games he's appeared in. Oh well, let's look at the bright side: at least there's not a crappy 8-bit LJN game named Daredevil out there. Even they didn't touch the issue. Even they cared enough. Or they just never thought of it. Who knows? It doesn't exist, and that's fine, so we shall leave it at that... or shall we? Daredevil on the Game Boy Advance is basically the same thing as a crappy 8-bit LJN game. Only a bit better.

This game was obviously cheap in every sense of the word. The music is even quite groovy at best, and at least each level has a different tune - but it looks like an NES game. An arcade version of Double Dragon at most, and it's not even that smooth or diverse in any part of design, physicality, or finally, gameplay. The level designs are straight out of any cheap action game made since 1987 or 1988 - streets, rooftops, docks, sewers, just as plain, straightforward and generic as they were in that one NES game you played way back when. There's nothing original here. There are a few movie stills to utterly spoil my mood, luckily they don't show up as cutscenes - a blonde Matt Murdock does, though. Sure, his hair is blonde or reddish in most comic book depictions, but this was supposed to be based on the movie... of which it has stills. It's a mess, just like the movie. That's the common factor. Well, Kingpin's still black - a fact which didn't make me too happy when I saw the movie, but it would've been ridiculous to have stills of Michael Clarke Duncan (R.I.P.) and then a fat white dude from the comics for the in-game character. Wouldn't have been surprised. (Returning to the choice of casting Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, can you think of any XXXL white actor with actual physical prowess to go with that one giant ab? Neither can I. Hmm. Maybe they did have a point there after all.)

Now the sumbitch is in the green-tinted
sewers, beating up more women. Calling
all cars.
Daredevil is a very generic beat 'em up spliced with an equally generic platformer. Think of a poor man's Double Dragon (from the earliest end) spliced with just about any Marvel platformer from any point of time. It's not totally horrible or unplayable, but it's hardly entertaining. Matt's disability is hardly a part of the game - there's this sonar which activates from time to time, but for the life of me, I haven't figured out a purpose for it besides maybe showing you the right path to follow, as if there were many choices to begin with. Below the health meter is some sort of an automatically charging power meter, which allows you to enter some sort of godmode if there's anything left on it; your pathetic melee attacks of random collision become a little less pathetic, and you won't take any damage as long as the mode's active. Along the way, there are some collectables which unlock more collectables (mostly more stills from the movie, blech) and bonus attires for your "next round"; how hopeful on the developers' end. The godmode can also be used to spot hidden collectables. You have nearly constant access to Daredevil's nightstick, which essentially stuns enemies so you can beat them down with your fists in peace, and a projectile version which is limited to only a couple of (useless) uses. The best way to get forward is just using your fists and hope that they connect.

If the game succeeds in hogging your interest long enough, it'll not be neither a difficult or a long trip. A GameFAQs user aggregate tells us the game's length is somewhere around seven and a half hours; I haven't the faintest where they get that from, it's way less than half of that and I'm amazed if just one person went out of their way to get all of those collectables. It's the only way to raise the length bar that high.

At least Daredevil isn't horrible, but for the first and last game of the franchise, it's quite a sad tale, considering how great the character himself is. If this game was done 10 to 15 years earlier, who knows, it might even be considered a cult game and one of the best Marvel games there ever was. In 2003, we had every right and reason to expect something a little more.

+ The music is quite OK, and at least it changes
+ Simple enough

- Generic enough; it plays out like an NES game
- Random collision detection; and what's up with the occasional hanging from thin air?
- Not very faithful to the character
- Movie stills; they get you down worse than you might think

< 5.9 >

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