So Mario’s wandering around the fair one day with Peach and spies Toad with some sort of weird contraption with giant toilet plungers. Excited, Toad demonstrates that his machine can squish anyone into a contortionistic ball to be shot out of a cannon. Rather than be horrified at this diabolic torture device, Peach gamely steps up and gets herself squished into a cute marble. Trouble strikes! Goombas appear and shoot the Peach-Ball into Bowser’s castle. Mario, for some odd reason, decides that he can better rescue her as a ball and climbs into the device with a determined look on his face. Only he is bouncy enough to rescue the princess.
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Looking down the limp lineup of Game Boy Advance games for this year, it seems hard-pressed the system will last yet another year - at best Nintendo will be able to squeeze one more GBA holiday shopping season into the mix. Since 2001 Nintendo has shoveled over countless Super Nintendo ports to the system and now almost five years later it seems the company is scratching at the bottom of the well.
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Sloppily trying to become a new Mario Party, this Majesco produced mess doesn't do anything for Game Boy Advance owners. The poor kids who are stuck with Cartoon Network Block Party as a gift from an unknowing parent are the ones who suffer. Majesco makes the cash either way, and it's obvious that's the only concern with a title produced like this.
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Trying desperately to become like the unforgettable licensed arcade beat-em-ups of old, Dragon Ball GT Transformation doesn't quite reach that goal. It follows the weakest parts of those titles, without injecting any character or life into it. To call it bland would be correct, but also generous.
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Gunstar Super Heroes takes all of three seconds to get going. In fact, that may even be conservative. Once out of the menu system, players are thrust back into an action game they haven't been in for 12 years. Not all is well though, and the deletion/change of key features doesn't help this one draw in longtime fans.
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To avoid the feeling of repetition, the Dynasty Warriors series created a reputation of providing pure visceral thrills. It's unlike anything before it, even though the genre is ancient. That leads to questions like: What went wrong with this Game Boy Advance version? Whom had the idea to create a game so toned down and dull, that it barely resembles the game it's based on?
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Taking the exact engine from the Game Boy Advance entries of the Castlevania series, Shaman King: Master of Spirits brings with it fantastic platform gameplay and then ruins it all with a ridiculous stage progressions system. The great feel of the action, intriguing magic system, and beautiful graphics almost make it for it. They're enough to keep you going in the start, but not enough to keep moving to the end.
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Launching with the Game Boy Advance in North America, Iridion was developer Shin'ens main product. It was an impressive game visually, pushing the hardware past the notion that this was just a portable Super Nintendo. What the game lacked in the gameplay department, it made up for in visual awe. Iridion II fixes the first games major problem, and still keeps the innovative graphics engine alive.
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Car Battler Joe is definitely one of those games. A strange hybrid of Pokemon, Twisted Metal, a dash of Final Fantasy like RPG elements, and open ended gameplay much like the Grand Theft Auto series, Joe won't appeal to anyone who refuses to give it some time, but these people are missing out on one of the best portable RPG's in a long time.
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Hardly any other company catches more flack for their sequels than EA. Their sports line is constantly under fire for not providing enough new content with each release. For once, that doesn't apply. "Tiger Woods 2004" is a remarkable improvement in every area from the huge disappointment that was the first installment on the GBA. There's still work to be done with plenty of room for improvement.
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For everything it did right, the Neo Geo Pocket never really got a proper "Metal Slug" game. While the two entries on the 8-bit portable were more than satisfying, the hardware limitations really hindered the feel the series was known for. Now, thanks to somewhat powerful GBA hardware, "Metal Slug" finally goes portable with very few sacrifices.
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If you own a Saturn, chances are you either own or plan to own "Guardian Heroes" or "Radiant Silvergun." If you own a Genesis, "Gunstar Heroes" probably tops that list. One thing brings these titles together: Treasure. "Astro Boy" is the latest title from the hardcore gamers dream developer and their solid style brings to life the popular anime character in one of the best games this system will ever see.
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The Midnight Club series launched with Playstation 2 back in 2001. Around the same time, a version for the Game Boy Advance surfaced under the radar, for obvious reasons. The initial version on the PS2 wasn't exactly a classic, but the portable rendition fails on nearly every level.
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Mario Golf is a wholly underrated sports series. Given life by the Nintendo 64 and later the Game Boy Color, the game managed to draw a cult following and many believe the GBC rendition was more playable. Now Mario Golf has been updated on the Gamecube and Game Boy Advance. Though the Gamecube version has the obvious graphical punch, the gameplay on the portable is arguably more engrossing thanks to a minor RPG mode and tons of extras.
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River City Ransom is undoubtedly one of the most under appreciated video games of all time. Premiering on the NES, this classic Techno's beat-em-up was revolutionary for its time, adding RPG-like elements to what could have been yet another clone of Double Dragon. Now an entirely new generation of gamers has a chance to experience the game in a new form and on a new console. It's not without faults, but this is a great way to experience this cult favorite.
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The (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) TMNT have been everywhere lately. Their recent surge in popularity brings Konami back into the mix for some more gaming goodness. While not on par with their 16-bit and arcade efforts, this recent edition to the GBA's library is a more than welcome return to the past.
Unlike past efforts, the Game Boy Advance rendition mixes platforming and fighting, much like the first Turltes game back on the NES (just add combos). Each of the 4 amphibians has their own set storyline and their own set of 4 stages. Their stages are made to take advantage of their individual abilities (such as Raph's wall climbing abilities). At least one of the 4 stages presented before each character is a sort of mini-game including a nifty sewer surfing segment (Michelangelo), motorcycle racing (Raphael), on rails shooter (Leonardo), and a standard horizontal shooter (Donatello). This adds some variety to the otherwise mundane and basic beat-em-aspects.
Once you have completed each of the Turtles individual stages, you'll have one more stage to conquer (unless your playing the game on easy). Any of the TMNT's can be selected for final showdown with Shredder, a vicisous level that throws EVERYTHING at the player. Sadly, unless your playing the game on it's hardest level, this is the only challenging segment. The short individual stages can be beaten in a matter of minutes and getting hit is only a matter of not paying attention. The harder difficulties only increase the amount of damage the enemy does, not the AI. The cinemas also drag on for far too long and the stories are far from compelling enough to warant reading everything.
Still, with amount of moves and the battery backup, your sure to come back. The four heroes look fair on the small screen, but their animation is sure to pull the player in. The numerous combos you can perform with a bit of practice is sure to impress and everything looks ripped right out of the latest cartoon series. The intro takes still clips from the shows intro and puts it under a fully voiced theme song. Asthetically, this one is nearly perfect.
Though I'm sure the hardcore crowd would've preffered an update to the classic "Turtles in Time," you really can't go wrong with this new addition. It's far from perfect, but it captures the spirit of the show (and to a lesser extent the comic) more-so than the majority of the other liscened junk on the GBA. If you can accept the relatively short length, your bound to get some enjoyment form this title.
UPDATE - 03/22/03
I am really impressed with the level design of Sonic Advance 2. Act 1 Leaf Forest is classic Sonic, but the rest have been quite unique. Hot Crater and Music Plant are nice and different, but Ice Paradise and Sky Canyon are real departure from the standard design (I have not gotten any further). The gravity defying corkscrews are real cool. The levels start getting harder at Ice Paradise which is Zone 4, and Zone 5, Sky Canyon is insane. I have not beat the first act yet. There are a lot of new level design doodads in Sonic 2 that make the game that much better.
The one thing that is lacking in Sonic Advance 2 is the originality of the boss design & mechanics. This is a real bummer. Every boss I have come to so far is the same setup: you are on a "treadmill" sorta thing where you are constantly running and trying to catch up to the boss. You wait for the boss to shoot something at you and then you move to the right of the screen and hit him, then quickly get your butt back to the left side of the screen. Rinse, lather, repeat. The boss fights of Sonic Advance 1 had a little more thought and variety. The bosses in Sonic Advance 2 are all quite similar and use this same format.
ORIGINAL - 03/21/03
I am glad SEGA decided to create new games for Sonic's adventures on the GBA.
Sonic and Mario are two of my favorite video game franchises because they are of the platformer veriety - my favorite kind of game. The latest platformers I have purchased, are Jack & Daxter and Sly Cooper for the PS2, Mario Sunshine for the Game Cube. I have always prefered a platformer over pretty much any other genre (Other than RPGs). This is one of the reasons I like the GBA, there are a lot of good platformers that have been re-released for it. As well as new platformers like these two Sonic games. Both the Sonic Advance games have high production quality, and include just enough new and classic game play to make it interesting and still nestalgic and true to the blue guy's roots. The new grinding rails in Sonic Advance 2 are something that is not even taken from the Dreamcast Sonic.
Sonic Advance 1 has a lot of the standard levels expected in a Sonic adventure. And boy does it bring back memories. You get all the characters at the start of Sonic Advance 1: Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, and Amy Rose. They all make the pace of the game different. My favorite is Knuckles as he can climb, and the hardest way to get through the game, and slowest as well is using Amy Rose, she cannot turn into a ball to hit enemies or to get around the levels. She is annoying, but its a different way to play the game all together.
I have gotten to Act 5 with Sonic and I am impressed with the size of the levels. They did not skimp on the size of each act. They sure are big enough! The overall game seems to be a faster pace then sonic on the Genesis. But depending on which character you chose it can be a really slow game (using Amy Rose). The levels are unique to Sonic Advance but seem very inspired by the classic Sonic games (which is a good thing).
I have not gotten very far in Sonic Advance 2, but the graphics are just as nice as Sonic Advance 1. The effects are a little flashier, and the levels are a little more diverse. You are not able to use all the character at the beginning of the game. You get a new character, "Cream" at the end of act 1. She can fly across short distances like Tailes can, and she also has this little doll thingie she can use as a sort of projectile weapon. She makes the boss fights a sinch. Sonic Advance 2 is harder, which I am glad of. I have yet to get any Chaos Emeralds so I will be going back to get those.
I was never one for the Chaos Garden and taking care of a "Virtual Pet" so that features doesn't matter to me. Time Attack is always fun, and I cant wait to find someone else with a GBA to play multiplayer as both Sonic Advance 1 and 2 support multiplayer with just one cartridge.
I am glad I bought both games, they are both very well put together, fun, addicting good old Sonic style platforming. Now if Nintendo would just create an original Mario for the GBA... but that might be asking too much for now. Maybe Super Mario Advance 4 will be an original game.