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Last Action Hero (Game Boy) artwork

Last Action Hero (Game Boy) review

"Fists. That's it. There are no guns, no grenades, not even a knife, a sword or a broken bottle. The only time you do get to use a weapon in this game is for one boss battle, but outside that you have to punch both of the different enemies to death."

When I first turned on that Game Boy and played Last Action Hero, I knew I was delving into something awful. I thought, “Oh man, broken action and unwarranted frustration ahoy!” I even clutched my nipples in masochistic anticipation. That's quite a feat while holding a Game Boy.

Fifteen minutes later I found I was wrong.

Not the gleeful kind of wrong, the pleasant surprise of finding a sleeper hit buried deep in the Game Boy library. More of the wanting-to-scrape-the-part-of-my-brain-that-remembers-this-game-with-a-wire-hanger kind of wrong. The first thing I said after gawking at the screen in disbelief for five minutes was, “Action? What action?”

But I guess Final Platformer Protagonist doesn't have the same ring. Yes, it's true: Last Action Hero is skinny on action, but morbidly obese on broken platformer elements.

Mediocrity isn't too much to ask for, nor is it unreasonable to expect. But when I found out that the gameplay was not based on shooting random baddies, I still felt betrayed. I would never have watched the movie and thought, “Y'know, I'd love to see a game based on this, one where you jump around from one platform to another collecting movie tickets.”

Well-done platformers usually place collectible items like this in hard to reach places, present unique platforming situations and ask you to use your brain and thumbs. Last Action Hero uses the same three platforming situations repeatedly, but dresses them up differently each time. Either you're going to jump across a large gap, climb up some stacked platforms (like crates) or leap from a higher platform to a lower one.

This is where better games have stimuli--pieces of environment, hazards or enemies--in the way to complicate the process and make the same situations feel different. Instead each situation relies on the same button-timing jumps ad naseum. But good luck with that. Arnie goes from stone still to breakneck in .01 seconds. Timing jumps is not as easy and natural as it might be in most platformers. Miss that jump and you'll fall to a lower part of the level and have to backtrack.

Constant backtracking would not be an issue were it not for a timer. The first stage gives you 200 seconds to complete it, and believe me you'll need ever second. The first time I completed this level, I was down to 18 seconds, and that was with only making one slip up. If you miss more than one platform, then you best let Arnie throw himself down the nearest pit. Last Action Hero demands near perfection from you and won't have any of your excuses.

An Arnie game is not complete without scumbags to waste. Here's where the action-hungry gamers are rubbing their hands together and wondering what kind of neat weapons and sick tricks the game has in store for you.

Fists. That's it. There are no guns, no grenades, not even a knife, a sword or a broken bottle. The only time you do get to use a weapon in this game is for one boss battle, but outside that you have to punch both of the different enemies to death.

Most of the time you're only up against a lone punk standing still. No problem. It's just mash-mash-mash, right? That'll work about 20% of the time, and the other 80% will be you dropping the f-bomb when he punches through your flurry of fists and blows you back about fourteen feet. While you're down, he'll bust out a gun or roll a bomb at you and blow you back another fourteen feet. The only way to tangle with the street trash is to rush in, rush out. The proper technique might look something like this:

Rush in, punch face, run back, rush in, punch face, etc...

This is the height of Last Action Hero's action. Even at the end of the game when you're kicking projectiles back at a possessed film screen or fighting a helicopter, it doesn't get more exciting than this.

Even when Arnie jumps into his car for two levels of road rage, there's very little action. Once again you get no weapons and instead have to tear ass down the freeway and ram your car into innocent bystanders in the hope of causing them to explode. Only then can you snatch movie tickets from their burning corpses.

But even this antiquated attempt at a driving scene doesn't break the tedium. Without any weapons and with such rudimentary gameplay, the driving sequences make Spy Hunter feel advanced. And this game was released a full decade after Spy Hunter!

Last Action Hero is a prime example of how a license title can go horribly wrong. The developers missed the ridiculously large boat when it came to genre, and instead crafted a slapped together platformer that fails to capture the spirit of Arnie. The effort that went into this feels like the barest minimum that anyone could put into any license title. It opens the question: why even bother? Yes, I understand blow is expensive, but I doubt a company would profit much from a game like this.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (May 22, 2011)

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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If you enjoyed this Last Action Hero review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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SamildanachEmrys posted May 25, 2011:

Entertaining stuff! A bit of a rant maybe, but engagingly written. Brought a smile to my face.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted May 25, 2011:

Thanks! I did rant a little more than I wanted to, but at least I go a smile out of someone.

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