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Dark Arena (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Dark Arena (Game Boy Advance) review


"Dark Arena had plenty going for it to make me buy it. It's a 3-D Shooter. It was cheap(GBA games are usually cheaper than ''console'' games). It talked about of multiple weapons and skill levels. It talked challenging A.I. It talked....too much. It told me it would give me more than it could. Where did it fail me? Let's start, shall we? "



Dark Arena had plenty going for it to make me buy it. It's a 3-D Shooter. It was cheap(GBA games are usually cheaper than ''console'' games). It talked about of multiple weapons and skill levels. It talked challenging A.I. It talked....too much. It told me it would give me more than it could. Where did it fail me? Let's start, shall we?

In the beginning :

First off was the music. I've heard bad title music before, so this was tolerable...maybe SLIGHTLY catchy(as is any game music with me). I started the game and found my first turn-off : An ''Enter Password'' screen. With this day in technology, I didn't think I'd have to write down 8 character passwords to continue my game later. Well, they were short and I moved onto starting with a skill level of Normal. Just as a slight interrupt, I went back and tried it on Hard. I was surprised to notice....nothing. Zilch. The only difference that MIGHT exist between the skill levels(still not sure) is the enemies' speed change. That's about it. There are no enemies added or changed.

And then, there was nothing :

Actually, I don't know if A.I. was an actual concern for the game. The enemies were constantly held up on walls, whereupon I would fry them without being shot back. The enemies seemed more concerned on smothering me....Yes, you read that correctly : ''Smothering me''. More than 15 times in 5 minutes, some nutso mutant would proceed to walk on my character. I could occasionally go through rooms without taking a hit, merely because they would fight each other after being hit by their own shots as they neared one another. Even worse, the ''hand laser(read : ''pistol'') you start with has unlimited ammo. That means you can walk into a room where everyone is not looking at you and just blast away. They will be too busy ''dancing'' in the spot they are in 75% of the time, as this wimpy weapon just holds them. And since you never run out of ammo, you can snipe away. Most groups of enemies you can simply kill from a distance. Their comrades usually won't notice until you shoot them, even though their buddy just died next to them. Also, the ''zoom scope'' is a joke. It doesn't zoom in at all. It turns the view entirely green(making it hard to see enemies) and gives you the only weapon that depends on the crosshair it provides, as it won't shoot up or down.....Since there's no A.I., they substituted with something else. They filled several rooms with wall-to-wall enemies. Enter one without a good weapon, and you will die in a few seconds! However, that's not a challenge. That's just tedium. I just happen to prefer quality over quantity, thank you....

Yet, I persisted :

So, with all these enemies, surely they give me the weaponry I needed, right? Wrong. They have about a dozen or so weapons. My question was....Where are they? I would often find the Shotgun just lying around(they called it a Combat Rifle) in some of the levels. Most of the time, the weapons would be hidden somewhere. And since ammo is seemingly thrown into every corner, the gun must be somewhere nearby, right? Wrong again. I have been past several BOXES of ammo, only to find the gun guarded by some-built up enemy that I have to destroy in order to get the weapon that would have been useful when fighting said enemy. You will rarely find more than one of each weapon in a stage. This is also a problem when you find the weapon. You see, the game doesn't allow you to stock up ammo until you actually find the gun. This usually means you'll be back-tracking several times upon picking up a weapon, merely so you don't have to wander into battle with only 2 rockets in your gun. Also, a few of the of the weapons are just plain worthless in Single-Player mode. Like the mines, of which most enemies will walk over before they ''activate'' and they step on them. More often then not, you'll have to cross over mines and blow yourself up! The icing on the cake, however, is the auto-aim feature. Your weapon must be to the slight right(within 1/8 of an inch if the game were real life) of the enemy you are aiming at to kick auto-aim into gear. Gee, I thought the weapon was pointed straight forward as an alternate crosshair....my mistake.

And I heard a voice... :

Now, that I've gotten my hands on a real weapon, I now hear the wonders of the voice they decided on. The one that tells me about EVERYTHING I pick up! ''Health, New Weapon, Access Card, Extra Ammunition.''....Thank you, but after 20 pick-ups, I think I recognize the item now. More so, it even prints what the item is at the top of the screen. The print was enough(it's done in other First Person Shooters anyway). However, they fail to identify what guns you are getting. All you'll hear is ''New Weapon''(first pick-up) or ''Extra Ammunition''(You already have it). No ''Rocket Launcher'' or ''Bolt Gun''. Now I have to hit Select multiple times to see what gun I accidentally ran over if I should miss the message, as I might be firing away. Oh don't worry about if it's a new gun. It automatically switches it in that case. Nothing like being in close-range and having your gun suddenly swapped, leaving you with two options. A)Press Select rapidly to switch back to your original gun and hope you get to it before the enemy kills you, or B) Fire and forget....You see, a close range rocket will KILL your player instantly.....Gee, thanks. Now I get to restart because of this decision the programmers made. On the note of losing health, the ''computer voice'' will say ''Your Health Is Low'' every time your character pitches below 15 health.....didn't the digital readout on the bottom mean anything? Apparently not, so I now have to be driven crazy as I get my health to ''dance'' around 15. Now, with all these phrases, surely it can tell me when I hit one of the forty locked doors, right? Not a chance. The only voice check it leaves out is what card belongs where, the one piece of info I could use...

I finished by grabbing what I could... :

Let's see....I got the map....An utterly useless piece of technology. It will not tell you which doors are locked, nor can you move while it's turned on. Your character is identified by a small white line, as are the doors. This makes it tricky when you are trying to discern if where you are when you are against a wall. Too bad it doesn't show where I've been. The map only works when you pick it up, revealing everything. There is no ''auto-map'' in the game. Also, as I said, I could tell there was a lot of ammo. It would have helped if they would have labeled them more clearly, though. Instead, with the said number of weapons, they chose to have a tiny label(about 9 or so pixels) on the side of the box. Then they make most of the ammo pick-ups the same box but in different colors....Naturally, the pictures in the manual are all in black and white, so you must experiment with each color and commit it to memory. Don't worry about the enemies, as they drop absolutely NOTHING. All these different enemies and not one carries a weapon or ammo you can use?....Fine. Where's the....exit? Well, can't mistake that ever again. It's always the same pink teleport surrounded by red walls, with four lights at the corners of the teleport. A little variety wouldn't hurt.

Okay, my final scores for this game are :

Graphics : 5/10

There weren't many things I haven't seen on an SNES, but that's good for this system. Also, the ducking animations from one of the enemies was a nice(if worthless) touch. However, most enemies just....jiggled....as they ran forward. Also, several weapons just looked ugly.

Gameplay : 3/10

I never got to try multiplayer(lack of people to try with), so it might be better there. However, most players will usually buy games for the Single-player aspect, and that's what I'm rating here. If you want the full details, read my above statements.

Story : 2/10

True, it's a 3D-shooter and can't have that much of a story. But the story it did use is just too clichéd.

Sound/Music : 6/10

Most of the sounds are at least fitting, though I expected a little more to come out of my headphones than it provided. The music(what little there is) is nice, but every song repeats after playing for only 20 seconds...at best!

Play Time/Replayability : 4/10

As I said before, I didn't try multiplayer. Still, a good amount of players should be able to beat this game in under 3-4 hours on Normal.....Maybe a couple hours more for Hard.

Final Score : 4/10

I'll admit, it's a 3D-Shooter and it can be fun for a little while. However, I strongly recommend you try renting this before you buy it. This game is definitely not for everyone....

Rating: 4/10

MercenaryCobra1's avatar
Community review by MercenaryCobra1 (July 11, 2007)

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