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Animorphs (Game Boy Color) artwork

Animorphs (Game Boy Color) review


"Individual missions, those which aid in the destruction of the Yeerks, are completely different from anything in the series. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s about the only good thing in the game, and it’s something that leads a player familiar with the series to wonder what comes next. Getting through these missions and to the next surprise, however, is a problem."



It started as a series of books, which became a short-lived television program, which ultimately developed into its own collection of video games. There are at least three Animorphs titles, each trying to keep some connection to the plot, whether making up its own mission or (loosely) following that of the story told in the books. This title does the former, making up missions that do not occur anywhere else in the series, using only general common plot points. While this unique approach can do wonders for a franchise, it all boils down to presentation, and it's here that this game fails. Miserably.

Staying consistent with the series, your overall goal is to defeat the Yeerks, a race of parasitic space slugs that take over the minds of high-ranking humans in order achieve the archetypal world domination all evil forces endeavor to meet. Also staying consistent with the series, you play as four of six Animorphs (the human ones), a gaggle of teenagers who conveniently acquire the power to morph into animals through chance contact with a friendly alien seeking the same goal as you. Or more appropriately, acquainting you with his goal, which you take up for the cause of justice!

The similarities end there. Individual missions, those which aid in the destruction of the Yeerks, are completely different from anything in the series. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s about the only good thing in the game, and it’s something that leads a player familiar with the series to wonder what comes next. Getting through these missions and to the next surprise, however, is a problem.

You start each mission with naught but a single morph – the dog. Using this dog, you obtain stronger morphs by engaging in mortal combat, fighting to the death for the fate of the world!

Not really.

These battles are epic in nothing but frustration. Their structure may be in line with Pokémon’s one-on-one, four-techs-each model, but their execution is miserable. The accuracy rate appears random and unpredictable. Allow me to demonstrate by presenting the most bizarre encounter with a seagull that anyone has ever experienced. Ever.

My lion’s attacks are completely ineffective - the elusive little cretin keeps dodging! However, the bird takes no opportunity for granted. Each counterattack is a successful hit... until my proud lion is slain, a victim of the flying rat’s vicious, merciless rage. So much for "king of the beasts".

This isn't the first time something like this has happened, either. My hippo was defeated by a dog, my wolf lost to a cat, and my grizzly bear experienced a thrashing from a menacing bat. The only sense I can make of these outcomes follows a line of biological thinking that’s altogether too complicated for this review and probably too complicated for a game like this.

Ironically, I’ve never had the fortune of defeating a tiger with a weasel or some such ridiculous event.

At least fighting actual aliens is easier and perhaps a bit more sensible, but fighting actual aliens isn’t what eats all your time.

There’s another part of the game that tries to take something used all the time and turn it into something unique. The mini-game is just that – unique, at least in this title. But again, uniqueness doesn’t make awesomeness, and so it is true here, leaving many (especially the uncoordinated like me) with several hours of frustration and impatience to look forward to.

To provide an additional challenge, the game forces you to acquire a morph (always a weak one, might I add) that will allow you to proceed to the end of the level and fight the final boss. The mini-game produces an automatic side-scroller in which your pathetic animal must dodge obstacles in its path. A single hit will result in the loss of a life, of which you have three, which is particularly annoying when you keep getting stuck in the same place every time.

What’s more, you can’t just save your game and leave if the frustration’s getting to you. Instead, you must rely on a system of passwords, which are remarkably unreliable. Turning the game off for just a few minutes will result in the loss of any passwords, forcing you to start the whole mission over. The one exception lay in level passwords, but those start you off at the beginning only, without the handy information telling you where to go next.

The game doesn't tell you this, see… that it wouldn’t remember temporary passwords. So when I shut mine off in frustrated anger after failing too often at a mini-game and attempted to plug in the password I had written down…

INVALID PASSWORD


I’ll tell you a secret: I really liked this series… As books.

Rating: 4/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Featured community review by wolfqueen001 (April 18, 2008)

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