Game Boy Advance Reviews
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WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! - Game Boy Advance
WarioWare is a prime example of I.O.U: Innovative, Original, Unique. Upon hearing that Mario has an evil doppelganger named Wario, I decided to research further, and my discoveries ultimately led to this game, the most recommended and the most frequented in several "great games" list that I reviewed. Boy, playing this game has been one of the many highlights of my gaming history.
Wario, after watching on TV the new phenomena that is video games, decides to make some of his own. He also calls his friends to do the same. With a minute of introduction preceding each character, the player must finish 15, or in some cases 25, microgames - which only last about 5 seconds -, beat the boss stage - which goes for a minute - and then continue with the next character. There are about 10 characters in the game, and more than 200 microgames, all ranging from silly to baffling. If you've ever wanted twitchy gameplay but cannot / could not afford to go the arcade and play Robotron 2084, then WarioWare is the perfect game for you.
Each microgame is preceded with a single line that explains to you the objective of the game. You have to, in 5 seconds, find out what to do. Since the only controls used are the control pad and the A button, it shouldn't be too hard to guess; but should you fail the first time, don't worry, as it is perfectly natural, and you will get better the more you fail. Keep playing until you figure out a strategy or that perfect timing.
The characters are varied and distinct from each other. Kat's games are based on nature and has a Japanese style to her sequences. Spitz & Dribble are in a taxi. Orbulan's games are set in space and, in my opinion, the least fun. But at least his boss stage is pretty memorable. Jimmy appears three times, and though his sequences don't change much, his hair colour and games change dramatically. My most favorite segment is Kat's. Her games were memorable, her story was the most fleshed from the others, and it honestly felt like snippets from an actual RPG title.
After finishing this game, and actually getting to control Wario in Mario Party & Super Mario Kart, I've come to uncover a newfound appreciation for Wario. Sure, the fat Italian plumber is the more recognizable, but it is this megalomaniacal fat doppelganger who is the best of the two; and certainly the most interesting.
The graphics are colorful but I believe they have outdated very badly. I found some moments confusing because of this. The sound effects and the limited vocals are also quite painful to bear. But these are minor peccadilloes and are quickly forgiven as the game itself offers solid hour(s) of entertainment.
In conclusion, WarioWare is an excellent game and expect it to finish in about an hour. If you are, however, a newcomer, then expect it to finish in 2. Though it does indeed get intense, it never does once reach to the level of infuriating, because winning or losing, WarioWare is all about the fun!
Happy Vader's rating:
Mega Man Zero - Game Boy Advance
Rating: 7.0/10 Stars
Mega Man Zero doesn't disappoint. One of the better side-scrollers I've played, Zero was an enjoyable game and gave me a good glimpse on the following titles in the series. I have downloaded all 4 and will try them out in due process.
The story sees the androgynous Reploid, Zero, being awoken by a human scientist, the likable and omnipresent Ciel, and persuading him to help her and the resistance defeat off X and his utopia, Neo Arcadia. The villains' are unjustly retiring Reploids, and it's up to Zero and company to retire the retirers and not get retired in the retiring process.
For a GBA title, the graphics are not bad at all. Though the light visuals contrast the dark story and setting, I'm glad they didn't pull a Blade Runner and shroud everything in total darkness. The levels are short and aggravating enough for one to save game at specific spots so that he can quickly finish off the level and call it a day.
Now, I'm a casual gamer by trade who specializes in racing and/or simple, easy to achieve games. I have Contraphobia, that is to say fear of difficult games; hence why I use cheat codes. Despite enabling codes for this game, there were still several parts where the difficulty level was insanely high. Granted, Zero has the Cyber-Elf system, but that mechanic was OK enough and not too impressive.
Other than that, I enjoyed the boss battles and the overall intense feel to it. But I'm afraid that its unabashed difficulty will not warrant countless replays from me.
Happy Vader's rating:
Ford Racing 3 - Game Boy Advance
Rating: 4.0/10 Stars
Disappointing. I opened it with the highest of expectations, only to leave sourly disappointed. The cover looked awesome and promising. But then again so do most eggs. They look shiny, white and beautiful; but it is only when either an ugly duckling emerges or an expired yolk does one realize they had been misdirected. Kind of reminds me of that girl from that telephone ad who looks attractive but has an off-key voice - (of course, it was all humourous).
Anyway, Ford Racing 3 for the other consoles looks playable, and I'm judging by the pictures. I don't know whether it's true or not but what I do know is that this GBA version is horrible. Granted, the car models actually look good, but that's saying you have good looks but no brains. In fact I think that pretty much sums up the game.
With textures so terrible that I kid you not are surpassed by crop-circles, and the gameplay so stiff and one-minded; I've seen better wind-up toy action. Hell, even a parked Hot Wheels die-cast model looks and feels energetic than this slow and boring mess. The sound effects are painful. When your car skids, it sounds like a skid, but it is so painfully executed that finger nails scratching down the blackboard will actually be a relief for your ears. Furthermore, the collision detection is also bad. Anytime when you're in your skidding process, your car either becomes (temporarily) part of nature, bounces back in a pointy fashion, or just doesn't give a damn and passes through that obstacle.
However, there is one redeeming feature in this game. The cool female voice. That's right, as soon as you start up the game, she welcomes you in that spearmint of a voice. Oh, who am I kidding. It's all wrapped in static, but at least you can make out the words. Everytime you finish a lap, she announces the updates, and that, no kidding, will actually diminish any unadulterated anguish you'd garnered by that point.
In conclusion, Ford Racing 3 is by no means a 'worst' game but since it does almost next to nothing right, it can appropriately be labeled as forgettable. If anything, the sole reason for visiting this game is for that cool female spearmint of a voice. I'm imagining her as Jodie Foster in her early 30's. But even still, I like that excitable announcer lady from Cruis'n Exotica even more. You know, the one who exclaims "Checkpoint" everytime you pass one?
Happy Vader's rating:
ATV Quad Power Racing - Game Boy Advance
Rating: 7.0/10 Stars
Having played the excellent MX vs. ATV Untamed for the PS2 - I'll be reviewing it within this week - I've developed an interest in this genre of racing games, and am determined to play as many ATV, or similar, games as possible before the mood wears off like a cheap hooker make-up... wait, what?
Quad Power has all the basic formulas of a racing game; compete against computer players and come first. That's it. There are three difficulty levels and as usual, you start off with the easiest. You must finish in the top 3 and are given two laps. In the second difficulty, you're presented with the same tracks, virtually the same ATV - albeit more fast - but must now place in the top 2 to qualify. What the third difficulty does I've no idea because I didn't stick around that long to find out.
Featuring a third person perspective and responsive controls, this game is forgiving in the fact that it gives you power-ups. All of them, upon contact, trigger an excitable voice in the background and believe me it is so nauseating and unintelligible, that even still I cannot figure out what he says. The power-ups or add-ons or whatever, mostly just increase your speed by a few mph for only a few seconds. But those few seconds of boost are crucial if you're to ever overtake the opponent. The other power-ups I cannot tell what they do because, apart from triggering that voice, do no changes to the overall gameplay. They must be upgrades for your engine or suspension, I don't know.
Graphically Quad Power isn't impressive, as most GBA racing games are, but at least they're distinguishable. True, in some levels it does get painful and confusing, I've personally seen worse textures and graphics. You get 3 different levels of terrain; snow, forest and desert, and they're all practically re-hashes of each other, but provide some distinctions.
Having no music during the game and with only the engine sounds to listen to, it did give me the lonely feeling of being alone. Granted, there were other drivers on the road, but since you overtake them so quickly, the lonely feeling doesn't fully vanish. Also, I've noticed that the sound your player makes when he falls off his ATV is appropriate for someone being chased by a zombie. What the hell is it doing in a game like this? Furthermore, whenever your ATV collides with another, the sound they make is akin to a wet spongy toy thrown around in an empty bathroom oval tub. Well, I guess that's enough!
In conclusion, ATV Quad Power Racing is a fun game and one of the best racing games on the GBA. However, if you want the best racing experience on the GBA, try out Cocoto Kart Racer, as that game really fits the power of the GBA.
Happy Vader's rating:
MX 2002 featuring Ricky Carmichael - Game Boy Advance
Someone once said regarding football movies: "If you have seen one, you've seen them all". How true this axiom is. No matter how they start, they always decline to violence, swearing, riots, locker room threats and forbidden romance. Hell, even high-school films have more diversity in them. Going back to the axiom, I believe the same can be said about the racing games on the GBA. All of them are grainy, with almost none being a "classic" or "awesome, and all look as if they came from the same developer. But I can't say anything negative about the GBA, because of these two games - Ninja Five-O and Cocoto Kart Racer - which call this console "home". The first is one of my favorite games of all time; while the the latter is a guilty pleasure.
Now to the game. It's almost a given that the game is gonna be great when it has a recognizable sportsman name featured with that sport in the game title. Colin McRae, Tony Hawk and Mat Hoffman are clear examples. Well, Ricky Carmichael is about to join them. Although the game doesn't offer frantic speed or smooth animation, it is indeed a playable, if not good looking, racer for the GBA. In fact, MX 2K2 is one of the best racers on this console, and that's a fact.
With a somewhat choppy framerate, the game tells you press start and get the hell on with it - but in a polite way, of course. Instead of wasting precious time, I quickly chose the "quick race" option, selected the titular protagonist as my rider, and dove headfirst into the action. Maybe all this was a little too fast because my rider kept flickering throughout the countdown. It eventually stopped but its flickering is still a perpetual mystery to me; was it because of the dizzying speed I navigated myself through the menu, or was it the game's way of telling me who my player was admist those grainy pixels. I guess that's a debate for another day.
With tracks that have names like Hollywood actresses and 8 other riders to race with, MX 2K2 isn't at all unique or distinct from other racers. It's your standard be-first-or-be-nothing fare. The tracks have in them enough turns to make you come up with a strategy to get around them swiftly and accident-free. Speaking of accidents, whenever your rider comes in contact with other riders or veers off-road, he falls off his bike. The way he does as if he just climaxed. You have to see it to believe it. You see, the game's main fault is its lack of stunts and sense of speed. The speed feels restricted, shackled. The stunts are non-existent and the jumps also don't work right. There's just too much gravity for this game to be "loose" and "flexible". Think of this game as a less rag-doll version of Microsoft's Motocross Madness.
In conclusion, MX 2K2 is a fun game that's not too solid, but not too bad either. It will certainly keep you occupied for several minutes. Anyhow, I enjoyed the game for what it was worth and I think I might be re-visiting it again.
Happy Vader's rating: