"I say that because there's simply not much reason to play through the adventure multiple times. There aren't any hidden items to scrounge up, there aren't any alternate routes and there aren't even any particularly memorable moments throughout the whole affair. You can choose to play through as either Frida or Black Cuervo, as mentioned on the back of the box, but they both control identically and the option doesn't add anything to the experience."
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera is a PlayStation 2 game based on the Nickelodeon television show of the same name. It stars a young lad named Manny Rivera who can turn into a superhero simply by touching his 'T'-shaped belt buckle. In that tiger-like form, he battles the evil genius types that hang around Miracle City, with his good friend Frida along for moral support. The idea behind the video game is that a nasty fellow named Mikla has attacked Miracle City and imprisoned White Pantera and Puma Loco. Now it's up to Manny to rescue them while proving just how macho he can be!
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera is a rather generic game based upon a cartoon that doesn't feel terribly different from numerous others that air on the popular children's television channel. Presumably, there are a bunch of kids out there right now that think Manny is just awesome and that his adventures are the epitome of great animation. If you have children like that in your house, you might be tempted by this game (or they might) and its low price tag. Know this, though: it's priced the way it is for a reason.
Sometimes games hit the bargain bin because almost no one gave them a chance and now the retailer is anxious just to get rid of a perfectly good product. That's not the case here. El Tigre has several damning issues, with the most significant being that it's too short. The four available worlds won't take much more than an hour to clear. Then there are two bonus stages that might add another 15 or 20 minutes to that total. When those are out of the way (or before, if you prefer), there's one episode of the television show included on the disc. Then the disc may very well be ignored for all eternity.
I say that because there's simply not much reason to play through the adventure multiple times. There aren't any hidden items to scrounge up, there aren't any alternate routes and there aren't even any particularly memorable moments throughout the whole affair. You can choose to play through as either Frida or Black Cuervo, as mentioned on the back of the box, but they both control identically and the option doesn't add anything to the experience. Worse, the characters don't even feel integral to the game. A lot of license-based stuff these days features voice acting from a given show's talent, but here you just get a few still frames and then it's on to the action.
Excluding the bonus stages, there are two types of action. Both are viewed from the side in two dimensions. In one, you take your time hopping around obstacles and occasionally punching at the weaker adversaries (while avoiding the more dangerous ones like birds). You're able to roll out of the way of falling spikes and you can double jump as necessary. In the other mode, these same moves are available to you only now you have to race from start to finish, gathering glowing green tacos along the way to extend a timer that otherwise ticks down to doomsday.
There's almost no variety. The four worlds mostly just amount to a few different background sketches with simple platforming action at the foreground. There seem to be about seven or eight different enemies/hazards in the whole game, with several repeated quite frequently. Each world is divided into around 8 areas, but they quickly grow redundant and a game that is only an hour or two long somehow manages to wear out its welcome long before the credits roll. Every gimmick--from platforms you have to drop off and then double jump away from to avoid spiked ceilings, to birds that flap up and down over rotating platforms--is repeated at least once and generally more often than that. It's like the developers had five or six good ideas and said “Hey, instead of making one level, why don't we keep repeating this and call it a game?”
Not everything is disappointing, of course. The play control is for the most part tight, with only minor issues coming when you try to double jump between some moving ledges or when you're controlling the vehicle in the bonus areas.
There are precisely two bonus stages, unlocked as you work your way through the main game. Basically, they put you in a runaway shopping cart (from what I can tell). Your job is to dodge any hazards as you collect coins and try to reach the course's conclusion with a respectable time. This is made more difficult by obstacles that require memorization to clear. The cart doesn't steer very sharply and sometimes you have to hit ramps that you might not know are coming, while other times doing so will send you flying directly into a wall you were supposed to avoid. There aren't many checkpoints, either, so reaching the end in one piece can be extremely frustrating. It all feels just the slightest bit unfair, though eventually you should have no trouble conquering both areas.
Like I said, though, the control setup is otherwise quite excellent. As for the graphics, they're competent and don't conflict with the source material... as far as they go. Some of the bosses are quite large, including one that rampages throughout the city behind you while you run and jump to the end of the stage. Sound effects and music are forgettable. The interface is simple and effective, with an auto-save function that notes any progress as you make it. There's nothing here that hasn't been done more effectively in better games, but there also aren't many of the flaws that have plagued other titles. Everything for the most part feels competent.
Of course, that's the problem. El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera never feels broken, but it also doesn't distinguish itself from the competition. It skimps on delving deeply into the license that will prompt most parents to pick it up off the shelf and it doesn't last long enough to keep kids busy for more than 2 or 3 hours. Even with its discount price, this just feels like a project that needed some more time in the development process. There are plenty of good cartoon-based games out there (many of them also published by THQ), but this isn't one of them.
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 20, 2008)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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