Teen Titans is a great example of a game that has some great gameplay ideas, but misses the mark through weak and repetitive presentation.
Based off the hit cartoon show, the player takes control of the Teen Titans, a super hero group of teenage age. The group is composed of five heroes each designated with a specific power or special ability. Even though there are numerous characters in this group, the player only controls one at a time in a side-scroller, beat?em up platformer.
The designers implemented a system where the player can change characters at any time. This is a great way to switch up the action whenever the player wants. Plus, puzzles and certain situations work best with specific characters. For example, Beast Boy will need to be used when the player must travel through a small hole in the wall via his bird form. Cyborg can smash through certain parts on the ground, resulting in new paths to travel. Also, enemies and certain environmental objects are color coded, giving a hint as to which Titan to use.
One would think that having super heroes with special powers, the ability to switch them at will, and character specific puzzles would set up a sweet and entertaining game. However, this is not the case. Enemy A.I. is extremely stupid and buggy, platforming is unresponsive, and collision problems are everywhere.
The game is a mix between a brawler and a platformer. Each level has its share of bad guys to beat up and boss battles to fight. However, the enemy A.I. is extremely poor. Bad guys will literally walk back and forth for no reason. Bosses will get stuck in corners or act in the same pattern. But the bland A.I. isn?t the only thing that bores combat. The player will only fight simple pallet swapped enemies. Even boss battles are pallet swapped. Yes, the player can switch Titans at any time to use different fighting styles, but it still is boring when the player fights the same enemies throughout the entire game. Also, combat is based on nothing more than button mashing.
There are even major problems with platforming. In the early levels of the game, the stage started to bend and grow vertically through the use of angled ramps. But since the collision detection screams ?rush job,? walking up these ramps is more difficult than it should be. The player will usually wind up walking back and forth a few times before the top plank can be walked on. Simple nuisances like these are everywhere in this game. This extra lack of polish drops the overall presentation and entertainment value of the game. And why can?t the player duck to dodge incoming attacks? Isn?t Robin supposed to be a fast and flexible super hero? When each character falls from a tall height, that character will display a kneeling animation. If he does it when he falls, why can?t he do it willingly? Weak.
Level design is also very vanilla. The linearity of each level is unforgivable. The player will mostly travel from left to right, with only a few short cuts or side paths along the way. But most of these side paths involve using Cyborg?s ground smash to break through a sewer cap to find a secret Titan icon. Again, the game repeats itself a bit too much.
The graphics are also a bit hit and miss. Some background environments look better than others, but characters sprites are pallet swapped. The sound and music will also leave a bad taste in gamers? mouths. For some reason, the sound quality is muffled and bogged down coming from the single GBA speaker.
The low quality of the game is the result of one of two scenarios: the developers were extremely rushed, or they just didn?t care. Most likely they were a bit rushed because they wanted to release this game in the prime of the TV show and before the holiday shopping season. The lack of polish, buggy gameplay, and repetition brings this game down like bowling ball underwater. The overall game concept is a solid one, but the presentation and execution is sub-par. The lack of multiplayer is a disappointment as well. Having five playable super heroes is the perfect set up for a multiplayer combat. Perhaps the future released console versions will be more entertaining than this miserable GBA game.