Kong The 8th Wonder of the World - GBA - Review
For movie fans the name Peter Jackson will usually bring up the Lord of the Rings series. When you mention the name King Kong either the classic black and white version of the original movie or the tepid 70’s version comes to mind. Now what do you get when you combine both Peter Jackson and King Kong? Well you get Peter Jackson’s new movie and gamers are treated to the “Official Game of the Movie.” However, all is not right in the gaming world. It seems a little system that could, the Game Boy Advance was left out in the cold. Instead of getting the official game, the GBA version of King Kong is simply an adaptation of the classic Kong story. Unfortunately this adaptation falls in line with the 70’s version of King Kong which is not good.
The story of Kong involves Ann Darrow (actress), Jack Driscoll (scriptwriter), Carl Denham (filmmaker) and a gigantic ape. Carl is determined to make his most historic film yet after he hears tales of a mysterious island with strange and unusual creatures. Ann will be the star of the film and Jack is along to protect the crew and Ann. But filming on the island takes a turn for the worse when the giant ape (Kong) kidnaps Ann. It’s up to Jack and Carl to rescue Ann and get off of Skull Island alive. It’s the same premise you’ve seen in the previous Kong movies but this game doesn’t deliver anything new or exciting.
The majority of the game plays out via a top down overhead view similar to old action-adventure RPGs from the Sega Genesis & Super Nintendo era. The game allows you to control all three members of your party (Ann, Jack and Carl) at the same time but with a few twists. Each member has their own unique ability and specific weapons you can use during certain parts of the game. For example Jack can use three different weapons while Carl can move items, throw grenades and use a torch. Ann has the ability to heal, stun enemies with a scream and use a grappling hook. At anytime you can change the party leader (the character you’re controlling) at anytime by pressing the L button. You can even press the select button to remove the leader from the party and control the leader separately from the rest of the group. The game even includes an item creation system where you get to combine items to create new items to use in your adventure.
These gameplay features hint at some interesting ideas that might come but regrettably the great ideas fail to materialize in the gameplay. You spend a large portion of the game running around Skull Island fighting small creatures that attack you looking for items to use in rescuing Ann and escaping the island. You will also investigate dungeons scattered throughout the island in hopes of finding even more items. Even the might ape himself, Kong, gets thrown into the mix allowing you to control Kong from time to time. But all of these features just feel pointless, unfulfilling and at times downright boring.
Sure Link runs around Hyrule looking for items to help Zelda but the gameplay sucks you in with great puzzles and incredible action. Kong doesn’t have this luxury. The dungeons are fairly easy to navigate through with some moderate challenges. But sometimes you can explore a dungeon only to find an item that has no impact on the rest of the game. Even on the surface of Skull Island I found a few items that had no impact on the game. These items never showed up in my inventory for me to use, which made me wonder “what was the point?” The action was mediocre at best with you simply hacking away as Jack during most of the game. Several smaller creatures would respawn almost immediately in certain parts of the game, which would cause unnecessary damage to your party members. Playing with all of your characters in the party was an inconvenience at times simply because the person behind the leader would walk into damage frequently. For example certain dungeons walls would shoot darts at you when walked by. The party leader would avoid the damage but the 2nd person would get hit. The level designs of the island made it difficult at times to figure out where to go next in the game. Certain sections would look off limits due to the graphics but if walked a certain way you could make it to the next area.
All of these issues are small minor annoyances that add up to some problems. Even playing as the 8th Wonder of the World had it’s problems. When you’re controlling Kong you have a quick punch, ground attack and a guard. But when I tried to use the guard feature Kong was always knocked over which required me to tap the B button repeatedly to get up. Kong’s attacks seemed to be in slow motion, which opened Kong up to damage since the attacks usually wouldn’t hit a creature immediately. The game even changed how Kong’s segments are played out. Instead of being in a over the top view the game switches to a side scrolling segment that would usually last for less than a couple of minutes. All of the Kong segments were used to move the story along in the game which was counter productive to what you’re trying to do with Carl and Jack (rescue Ann).
But all is not a complete waste with this game. The ability to change characters was interesting and offered some unique challenges in some of the dungeons. I did enjoy a few of the puzzles that required you to break up your party in order to move to the next part of the dungeon. One character would have to solve one part of a puzzle in order to have the other character move. But you can’t leave the other characters completely behind to explore solo. The other character will whine about being left behind. The item-creation system did allow you to keep in inventory essential items (besides health items) simply by combining common items found.
In the end Kong for the GBA isn’t what I would call a must-have title. The action of the game didn’t offer much that was impressive and some of the exploration felt pointless. Playing as Kong never made it seem as if I was a controlling a gargantuan ape. Instead controlling Kong made me feel as if I was in charge of a stuffed toy ape covered in sticky candy. But the ability to control up to three different characters in the game and switch the characters on the fly in an action-adventure game was interesting. Separating the characters to solve different puzzles was a nice feature that would have been better if the characters didn’t complain when you tried to leave them behind. If you’re looking for a must-have GBA title you can skip Kong. But if you’re dying to play the game because of the new movie then give it a try but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
|Review Scoring Details for Kong The 8th Wonder of the World|
Controlling Kong and the three characters in the game is a nice feature. However discovering useless items is not what makes a great game. The game never seemed to get me hooked into the game. It made certain parts of the game feel like a chore instead of a fun and entertaining experience.
This game comes straight from 1992 with the 16-Bit era graphics. Don’t expect the powerhouse 2D graphics you’ve come to expect from the GBA.
The sound effects and music in the game are passable but nothing that will impress anyone. All of the characters have their own unique grunts they use during the game. The music did set a nice tone for the game during the dungeons with some creepy, mysterious tracks.
The action in the game is easy and the game is forgiving when you have to continue (starting out at your last save game spot). However if one of your party members dies then the game is over and you will need to continue.
Ok, I have to say it: This has to be a quick cash grab since this isn’t even based on the same movie or other King Kong games that were recently released. I know Peter Jackson mentioned in interviews that he was overseeing development of the other King Kong games. I guess the GBA wasn’t on his agenda. It’s King Kong and if you haven’t already seen at least part of the original movie then please check it out before you even attempt to play this game. The game tries to be creative by offering different abilities for all of the characters in the game and having the ability to switch between all of the characters at anytime. But I’m sure most people when they see the name Kong on the cover will think this is a game based on the new movie coming out. Our loyal GameZone readers won’t be in for that surprise with this game.
Kong for the GBA isn’t as “King” as it should be. Instead we’re treated to a 16-bit era inspired action adventure game that is based on a classic movie. Unfortunately for Kong most of the 16-bit era movie based games weren’t that good and Kong is following the same path.