Blackthorne for GBA, while being a port from SNES, is still a very solid game. This game has a dark and grungy theme but contains one of the most badass characters ever. Blackthorne is a welcomed edition to Blizzard’s list of remakes that also include The Lost Vikings and Rock ?N Roll Racing.
Blackthone can be thought of as an old school Prince of Persia clone, but it surpasses it in everyway. Players will run, jump, climb ledges and ladders, throw bombs, flip switches, and engage in armed combat. Instead of using an old fashioned sword, the main character blows everything away with a shotgun. The main character looks like a hardcore grunge rocker from Seattle in the early 90’s. This badass character doesn’t take crap from anybody, even an invading army of demons. He sports very long jet-black hair with torn jeans and muscle-t. Oh yeah, and he also has a really big gun.
The story for this game is dark indeed. On an ancient planet, humans are living peacefully until one day an army of demons invade. Making a very tough decision, the king of this world sends his only son to grow up on Earth. Now in his 20’s, the prince is summoned back to his home planet to stop the raid of the demons.
The best part about this game is the gameplay. The best way to describe how this game plays is best compared to Prince of Persia. Each level involves the flipping of switches, riding of elevators, and killing all that stand in your way. To help with your mission, enslaved people will give you guidance and an occasional item. These helpless people are either chained to walls or forced to work vigorously. Even though these slaves will help you along your quest, they will often be shot, either by accident or on purpose. On the positive side, there is no penalty of any kind for doing this. Killing the innocent only adds to the dark theme.
Instead of using his mouth, the main character talks with his shotgun. Enemies can be blasted across the screen resulting in intense firefights. Not only can you shoot in the direction you are facing but you can also shoot in the opposite direction. But the best part about this is that he does it without looking. To dodge incoming attacks, the player can hide and take cover in the shadows. You can hide at any time during play. A simple press of the Up on the D-pad is all that is needed.
Each level is like one big puzzle. Keys, portable elevators, bombs, and bridge key cards need to be collected. Besides from finding these items, many maneuvers must be mastered. The player can leap small gaps when standing still, but can jump wide gaps when running. Machines must be blown up by remote control floating bombs to power down force fields. Power bombs will be used to destroy pesky doors and larger enemies. The player also has the ability to climb up or down ledges and pull himself up.
Despite being a great game, Blackthorne does have a few small problems. This game was originally made on the six-button SNES controller. Because the GBA doesn’t have as many buttons as the SNES controller, different button combinations must be used. However, after some time with it, the play control will become second nature. If players are iffy about the controls, the game offers a practice mode where it explains all of the actions you can perform. It is encouraged to play through this tutorial before you jump into the main game because is explains things very well in a short amount of time. Also, since the GBA has a wide screen, the “L” button is used to scroll up and down in conjunction with the D-pad. This is just another GBA port inconvenience.
The music is very dark and dreary. So in other words, it fits the game perfectly. All the sound effects and music that was in the SNES game made it into this one. Explosions and hearing the characters grunt as they get shot will help the player feel what the characters are feeling. However, due to the single speaker on the GBA, it just doesn’t sound as clear as it once did.
Another negative aspect about this game is the graphics. Again, because of the GBA’s widescreen format, sprite scaling is used and there are some washed out muddy colors. The game just doesn’t have the same clarity as it did on SNES. On the other hand, the game is improved due to the battery back-up. Games can now be saved instead of inputting a cumbersome password. Also, there is no multiplayer mode of any kind. One other downside to this game is that it doesn’t really have any replay value. Once the game is beat, there is little reason to come back.
Blackthorne’s gameplay and badass character design is what makes this game great. Players will love playing as this character simply for his whole attitude. Everyway this character moves screams badass. Just by the way the character walks and pulls out his shotgun will make players giddy with excitement. He even blasts enemies by shooting backwards without looking. This no-look shot is one of the coolest moves in gaming history. What better way to blast the head off your foe than by not even looking at him?
If you have the option, play the SNES version of Blackthorne because the graphics and control scheme are better. But if you can’t get your hands on a copy, then the GBA version will do just fine. If you are looking for a solid single player GBA adventure, then pick up this game. Blackthorne is a fun game that is better than, say, Splinter Cell and Lady Sia.
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