More noise than signal

DareDevil — Gameboy Advance

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site,

It was widely accepted that during the 16-bit console heyday there were two things that could be done with a comic book licence; turn it into a side scrolling beat-em-up or turn it into a side scrolling platform game. While current generation consoles may put these into 3-D, the only other advancement is Capcom’s stuffing of the Marvel characters into their never-ending series of one-on-one fighters. With the GBA becoming a de facto porta-SNES of late, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the movie / comic tie in for DareDevil is a side-scrolling beat-em-up.

What it doesn’t have in originality, it doesn’t make up for anywhere else, I’m afraid. The plot is never a primary concern in these kind of games, and DareDevil does nothing to change that. Matt Murdoch is a lawyer, blinded as a child by a freak accident. His other senses grew to superhuman strength to compensate, giving him a kind of sonar-vision. His aim here, as in the film is to stop the appropriately named yet as far as the comic would be concerned inappropriately coloured Kingpin, the current crime overlord. Along the way double D will have to take out the likes of Bullseye, Elektra and about a billion nameless goons.

DD relies mainly on his chop-sockey-kicky-punchy skills to dispatch of his opponents, with the usual range of jump kicks, spin kicks and punches etc at his disposal. He also has a handy club to fall back on, for when skulls absolutely needs to be cracked, homeboy. And so he runs to the right, beating up all who oppose him, grabbing the usual health and invulnerability powerups, and also DareDevil icons, used to unlock secrets. Eventually you reach a boss, who generally provide more of a challenge than the preceding thugs if only due to the irritatingly cheap attack patterns, requiring more luck than skill to advance. “Frustrating” is a good word to describe this, as is “lazy” and “crappy”.

The only hint of originality is the use of Mr. Devil’s sonar, and even that’s poorly implemented. While this could have been featured more heavily, using it to give you an advantage over your enemies in a great many situations, these possibilities have been sadly passed over by developers Griptonite in favour of a cheap way to find hidden items. Get near a location with an inexplicably invisible powerup and a few lines start popping out of DD’s noggin, ala the way Spidey’s spidersense is shown in the comics. A tap of the shoulder button turns on the sonar-power, the pick-up becomes visible and you can collect it, should you desire. It’s a pointless use of a power that could be used so much more effectively with a little thought.

Griptonite have striven for a more comic book like presentation of the game, rather than the darker visuals of the movie. To this end occasionally opponents will be felled with a ‘Bif!’ or ‘Kerpow!’ logo appearing. This is neither big nor clever, but understandable as the game appears to be aimed more at younger players than the ageing fanboy market.I could go on, but I’d be repeating myself, much like the game. Jings, even Renegade and Double Dragon let you at least move in more than one axis and they’re both around 17 years old now. This kind of cheap, lazy cash in harkens back to the days of the ZX Spectrum and C64 where movie tie-ins were thrown out by the boatload with no originality whatsoever (if memory serves the Speccy version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was programmed in about a week to rush it out for Christmas). While DareDevil isn’t actively unplayable, it certainly isn’t a good enough game to choose over the plethora of other fighters such as Final Fight.