previews\ Nov 11, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Masters of the Universe He-Man: Defender of Grayskull - XB - Preview

In the land of Eternia sits a castle known as Grayskull. It is the heartbeat of the world. Within its walls resides the Sorceress, the coalescence of the magic power that is Eternia. Naturally, she has enemies and none so persistent as Skeletor.


To defend her she has empowered young Prince Adam with the power of Grayskull. When called up (“I have the power”), Adam is transformed into the mighty mountain of muscles known as He-Man.


As the story opens, Eternia is under attack and He-Man is battling his way through robots toward Snake Mountain, home to Skeletor. But Skeletor is not there. Rather he is besieging Grayskull. The Sorceress calls on all her powers, momentarily robbing He-Man of his powers, and resulting in his capture.


How did Skeletor get so strong, and can He-Man recover his strength in time, fight his way out of prison, return to Grayskull and thwart Skeletor’s evil plans?


The answer to that lays in the Xbox release of He-Man: Defender of Grayskull, a release from TDK and Savage Entertainment. He-Man is based on the cartoon series and traces the attempts of He-Man to break free from the confines of Snake Mountain and wend his way back to Grayskull. There are a host of mobs to defeat, and some simplistic puzzles along the way.


Some of the puzzles, though, are not without a few problems. Early in the game you will run into the stock puzzle of giant pipes slamming together, flattening anything that is between them. The idea is to time the crushing blows and move through when opportunity allows. Unfortunately, some of the pipes have a proximity effect. You can get close, but too close (as in not even within the piping, but just standing near it) and bam! – you are restarting the level.


There are 34 levels of mayhem in the game, pitting our intrepid hero against a bevy of mobs and other assorted nasties. The game control elements are very simplistic, and the game even employs an auto-target feature, which allows you to center He-Man on the nearest target. Using a combination of the attack button, left trigger and left thumbstick, you can get the hero to perform a variety of moves.


As the game moves through the levels, He-Man will even be able to ride Battle cat.


The sound of the game is nothing overwhelming but it is well in line with the action.


Graphically, the three-dimensional environments are well done and the mapboards are rather large. There is plenty to do in each level - items to find, enemies to kill and puzzles to work through (ok, the latter won’t take much time). He-Man moves very well, the sword attacks are wonderfully rendered and the glow from his weapon adds a nice blurred motion effect.


So what is the verdict on this hands-on preview? The plot is very simple, and the game does not try to pretend it is anything other than a third-person action/adventure based on a popular television show. Because it has no pretensions, that tends to set this title apart from other licensed products that try to embellish on their television counterparts or try to get overly complex. He-Man: Defender of Grayskull is a simple vehicle that is a well-rendered and wonderful excursion into the realm of Eternia. It may have a few minor flaws, but if you like the television show, or are a fan of simple puzzle/adventure titles, you should get a kick out of this game.


It will have you hollering: “I have the power!”

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