Handheld Hulking out…
With Marvel’s 2008 cover-up Incredible Hulk film—to make you forget about Ang Lee’s melodramatic envisioning of Hulk— comes a batch a new games, hitting across multiple consoles, the PC and Nintendo’s DS. Bruce Banner’s alter-ego is no stranger to virtual entertainment, as the classic comic book character has been at the hands of gamers since the early 80’s with the Questprobe adventure games. This time around, the handheld version of the game melds simple action with, well, nothing much else really.
Hulk don't know why smash...
While trying to tie in with the film’s story, The Incredible Hulk for the DS is not a plot heavy game; instead, you’re given a bare bones treatment. There are a few rendered cut scenes spaced throughout the game which gives you the minimal essentials to any story: a character, a dilemma and a nemesis. Although limited in number, the cinematics look surprisingly good for the hardware, and accompanied with full voice-over work (instead of lines of dialogue to read) by some of the film’s stars, they’re a treat to watch. With that said, however, their inclusion and peculiar spacing leave you without any idea of what you’re doing or why.
But really the game is all about one thing: Hulk smash! Okay, it’s a little underwhelming to read about the game’s action, but unfortunately, it’s little more enjoyable to actually play. You’re hit with 30 levels to pummel through, divided among three areas with 10 levels each: Alaska, Brazil and the United States—what the difference between Alaska and the U.S. is, I couldn’t tell you. There’s really not much to explain of the levels as your sole goal is to destroy a radar device at the end of each level, and collect tokens which unlock different Hulk character skins from various eras of the comics.
One and you’re done…
As you progress through the game, the stages get longer and throw a puzzle in here or there, but you’ll never have to ponder on where to go next or how to actually finish the level. It’s obvious the game caters to a younger crowd, as they’re the ones who will get the most pleasure out of the simple action. Don’t expect spending any longer than a couple of hours to beat this handheld title. Basically, if you’re planning a summer road-trip, bring some additional cartridges along with you since you’ll be done with the game, and have found all of the “hidden” items, before you even make it out of your state.
Ease aside, what we have at our fingertips is a quick action title with little substance. Without much context as to what is going on, you’ll spend more time wondering why you’re swimming in water or beating up the same enemies over and over again than you’d care to. Every level is almost identical, and only varies with the type of background or different paths you have to take in order to complete it. Furthermore, once you’ve finished the game, there’s no reason to play through it again, even if you can only wear the Hulk Buster Iron Man skin after beating the final boss.
Unfortunately, what little fun the game offers in the first half hour or so of playing dies out and becomes repetitive thereafter. On the other hand, although it’s simplistic, everything looks good with semi-3D backgrounds and destructible elements, but when you smash your way through levels with too much action, the game will consistently chug; an unstable framerate makes the repetitive game technically disappointing.
Well, two is better than one…
Things aren’t completely done once you’ve finished the single player game, however. Using a multi-card set-up, two players can challenge each other to see who can smash through a level more than the other, while also beating down their opponent. Though an interesting take on multiplayer action, this isn’t a game you’ll be buying for its party play, and doesn’t make up for the weak single player aspects.
Maybe next time…
Hulking out with gamma radiation, super strength and size makes the DS a strange home for the raging green machine. Amaze has tried to convey the power of Marvel’s Hulk on the handheld system, but it’s just too limited in design and under delivers in nearly every aspect; even the film’s actors can’t salvage the experience with so little offered. While the simple action may be entertaining for the younger folk, the lack of varied gameplay keeps it from being a worthwhile purchase.
+ Levels look nice, even if repetitive
+ Bunches of skins to find
+ Smashing action
Oh, hell no:
- Little-to-no replay value
- Overly simple gameplay
- Where’s the story