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Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him (Game Boy Color) artwork

Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him (Game Boy Color) review

"Most savvy gamers will know by looking at Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him what the game entails: tedious gameplay, dry combat, incessant collecting, and a lackluster fun factor. It's not bias that causes this, but experience. Many of us have played too many awful license titles for handheld systems, and know a bad purchase when we see one. It should be no surprise that combining all aforementioned factors nets you one shallow game. "

Most savvy gamers will know by looking at Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him what the game entails: tedious gameplay, dry combat, incessant collecting, and a lackluster fun factor. It's not bias that causes this, but experience. Many of us have played too many awful license titles for handheld systems, and know a bad purchase when we see one. It should be no surprise that combining all aforementioned factors nets you one shallow game.

This game is one of three Powerpuff Girl released on Game Boy Color. Like many games that suffered from the version syndrome, all three games are essentially the same with a few small differences. In this case, the developer rearranged the levels, and each game had you playing only one of the three Powerpuff Girls. Battle Him sticks you with Bubbles, the airheaded blond.

The first level looks straightforward. You move Bubbles to the right, bash enemies, and collect items. She doesn't walk as much as hypnotically float. The first thing to greet you is a poorly drawn thug. You hit the B button to attack, yet the attack is rendered ineffective because you floated right through the thug. There is no collision detection when it comes to touching enemies. You simply float right through them. This reduces combat to floating back and forth and sometimes hitting the B button. You realize this right away and try to mash the B button while floating through the guy. This seems to work, except that for all twelve times you hit the B button Bubbles only punches twice. There is a wait time after you attack which prevents you from attacking in rapid succession. Wait a tic... I thought the Powerpuff Girls were supposed to be superhuman. Why, then, do you have to wait to execute another punch? It calls to question how much the developers really knew about the source material. The fights these girls have in the TV show are often chaotic, fast-paced, and quite violent, even a tad bloody.

You maneuver Bubbles toward a pit and react as any gamer would, hitting the A button in the hopes of executing a jump. She fires a projectile instead, then tumbles into the bubbling crude oil. Your GBC speaker emits a soft, yet horrifying scream and you're down a life. It's still early, so you decide to regroup and try again, only this time you think to hit Up on the D-pad. Bubbles flies upward. You ascend and try to fly to the right and get over the pit. You dip down to grab some of the random items, the gold bars and diamond rings, only you overshoot them and tumble into the pit again. Bubbles has been getting into the professor's liquor cabinet again. The mechanics for flying are too loose, almost drunken. It's very difficult to gauge at first how much you need to push to go a certain distance, and you will often wind up overshooting targets. These drunken mechanics make precision needlessly difficult, especially when combined with some of the small platforms, large gaps, and long ascensions in this game. Take into consideration that flight is also finite. When that runs out, you go tumbling down.

Some parts have you flying from one platform off into the great unknown. You don't know if another platform will appear, or if you'll just drop. They don't always have you dropping on stable ground, either, as in the subway stage. There's a blind drop off once you get past the tunnels and into the caverns. When you descend in this game, you shoot straight down like you're made of lead. Down below are fire pits that you couldn't see, and it's not uncommon to fall into one. Later on in the same level are a series of floating platforms. Half the time you can't tell if you're supposed to fly to the right or upward to reach the next platform. This can sometimes lead to missing the platform and falling into the depths of the caverns.

Back at level one, you gun it to the right, pulvere, terrorize, and dominate. You've learned how to time punches, how to not fly like a drunken idiot, and even make it to the checkpoint. You battle on, thinking you'll come to the end of the level soon, and you reach a locked door. Obviously, you need a key. Problem is the level is a convoluted piece of work and the key is hidden in a location you would not think ton check. You try everything: flying in the sky at random places, beating up every thug, and rescuing every pedestrian, but you can't find the key. You eventually happen upon it when you fall down a ravine, fly underneath an overhang, and fly through a wall. That's right, the main objective of the level is hidden in an secret area.

This is exactly how the game works: you fly around, collect things, slowly punch people, and look for items you had no idea you were supposed to be looking for. The second level is even worse. It's there that you have to fly through Townsville's streets, go through windows you had no idea you could go through, and get stopped by not one, but two locked doors. The first one sends you back to the beginning to look for an arbitrary window leading to a room with a key. The second one is more of an expected event, and you set off to look for the key right away. You find many items in the process, 98% of which are useless, and even happen upon the mayor. Still no key. You fly around, punch more thugs, maybe even die a few times, but never find that key. It turns out that talking to the mayor unlocked the door. Apparently mayors speak this magnificent language that unlocks doors within a five mile radius of their larynx.

When at last you take the key from level one to the door, you finally have a boss battle against Him. You might expect the battle to be needlessly difficult due to the wonky controls and stifled combat. For once, this game defies expectation. Him, even for a first boss, is one of the easiest bosses in history. I can give you the boss strategy right now:

Float to the right and hit B as you approach Him. This should damage him. After you float past him turn around and float in opposite direction. When you get close to Him, hit B. Repeat this until Him is kaput.

This is the same strategy for most of the bosses. Every boss walks back and forth and sometimes fires a projectile at you. Said projectile can be dodged by simply continuing to move forward.

I have to give the developers kudos on trying. The levels aren't just dull, straightforward romps, even if they are convoluted messes. The game isn't just another derivative side-scroller. It has some exploration factor, and I'm a sucker for exploration. They tried to add some extra challenge to the game by tacking on incessant collecting. Scattered throughout the level is loot galore and kidnapped pedestrians. Nabbing one of these will bring up a message saying something like 1 out of 189. This means the level has 189 thugs to beat up, items to collect, and people to save. The problem with this: there's 189. If you die while collecting this stuff, which is very possible since a lot of these items are very close to life-taking pits, then you have to recollect everything again. If you reach the checkpoint with 30 items, collect until you get up to 150 and die, then you go right back to 30 items. Have fun collecting all of that again.

I think it unfair to say, “Well, what do you expect? This game is for kids.” Bull. There were plenty of games before this that were for kids, or that were based on shows for kids, that still had solid gameplay and a decent challenge factor. DuckTales and Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers on NES come to mind. Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him doesn't hold the same standard of development. It doesn't have the planning or the love that those other games had. It lacks substance, and feels like a slapped together license title made to earn a quick buck. Even the exploration and collecting aspects are tacked on and shallow. I have no problem with quick buck titles, really. Whatever stimulates the industry is fine by me, but that doesn't mean a developer can't craft a license title that isn't a brand name attached to a piece of plastic.

Powerpuff Girls: Battle Him is a hollow title that lacks in every facet of gameplay. Unclear objectives, dry combat, wonky controls, and tedious levels highlight this game's list of misdeeds. The only saving grace is that it tried, but not hard enough. It's tough to say if kids will find this game enthralling. Older ones will likely pass this it for more contemporary titles, and younger ones will either lose interest or patience after they've failed to maneuver Bubbles past the first couple pits. I'm sure you know where adults will stand on this. Bottom line: this game is worth leaving in the obscurity it's sinking into.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 04, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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