The stigma attached to movie inspired games is perhaps only surpassed by the one attached to video game inspired movies. Similarly, cartoons based on movies are often poorly received. So, what happens when you make a game, based on a cartoon, based on a movie? Nothing pretty, that’s for sure. And while taking into account that Kong: King of Atlantis was made for a younger audience than I (ages 6 & up), it’s still clear that this game has crossed the line from being simple enough for a child into simply being cheap.
As I mentioned, Kong: King of Atlantis is based on a cartoon which takes the King Kong of movie fame and puts him on an island full of barbarians, snake people and black, uh…goop monsters. Reborn using DNA taken from the original Kong, this royal primate has the ability to merge with his human “brother,” Jacen, so he can control the beast’s power. And when Queen Reptilia makes her move to conquer Kong’s island paradise, merge he must with Jacen to fight her snakeman army.
Whether controlling Jacen, Kong or their scantly clad native friend, Lau, the player always has the same abilities. You can run, jump, punch and…Uh, that’s it. Technically, each character has three different attacks, depending on which shoulder button is held while attacking. But, in reality this does nothing but change the attack’s animation. There is no difference in damage or where the attack lands, so just pick the one that looks the least cheesy and stick with it. Even Kong, with his gargantuan strength and agility, now melded with human intelligence can do nothing but punch and jump. He can’t even get around trees without beating them to the ground. In fact, being Kong actually puts you at a disadvantage, as he goes through the same obstacles as Jacen and Lau except he?s a bigger target and can?t jump as high.
And when I say Kong goes through the same obstacles as the other two characters, I mean the exact same obstacles. After fighting off tar monsters as Jacen, you play a stage as the giant Kong who fights…the exact same tar monsters. I guess they?re supposed to be ?Kong? sized versions since you?re both surrounded by tiny trees, but the impression I get is not that they?re big, just cheap.
After beating the game, I had encountered a grand total of five enemy types and two bosses, one of which looked suspiciously like a minor foe carrying a different gun. But be they bosses or minions, the enemies are not fun to fight. They run back and forth, swinging hammers or shooting off lasers randomly. You can get by most enemies simply by running through them, and I beat both bosses by standing still and kicking. I even got through a whole level using only the forward and punch buttons.
When you beat a stage you get a password that lets you later continue from that point. In case you missed that, I said a password! Who carries around scraps of paper with video game notes on the bus, or a long car ride? Passwords have no place on the GBA, or any other portable system for that matter. The only positive was that I at least had some fun making up acronyms to remember them with. Try using ?Danny?s Mom & Dad Drink Beer & Malt Liquor,? to start on the second stage.
So, it?s obvious the game was made cheaply, but do you at least get good bang for your bargain bin buck? Not really. It took me less than two hours to beat the game, and I can?t imagine any child you try to pacify with it taking more than four. Perhaps the makers hoped kids would loose their passwords and have to start fresh every time, or maybe the game was a bit rushed. In either case, this is not a title to keep you occupied for long.
The graphics are shoddy and constantly recycled. Each character has about three frames of animation and there was clearly a lot of cutting and pasting done for the backgrounds. The sound isn?t much better. I can?t help but laugh at the torturous groan that Kong makes whenever he takes damage. The music is perhaps the only thing close to passable in this game. It?s a typical assortment of jungle drums and rhythm, but it serves adequately in the game?s context.
Though I listed many reasons already, I mostly didn?t enjoy playing this game because there was nothing in it to challenge me other than some platform jumping and trying to figure out its nonsensical story. Perhaps it was best to have just left the king for dead, as I do not see his game fit for any man, woman or ape to play.