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GBA Review - 'He-Man: Power of Grayskull'

by Chris "Fozz" Breci on Dec. 11, 2002 @ 8:50 a.m. PST

Long ago, a battle raged on between good and evil for the right to rule the Light Hemisphere of Eternia. All that was good and sacred was put to the test. King Randor and his army defeated the evil forces, but the evil Skeletor and his followers were brewing a new plot to take over Eternia. With his new powers and his mighty soldiers by his side, He-Man must take on Skeletor, but must never reveal his true identity, as it would mean the end of Grayskull. Does He-Man still have the power? Read more and find out!

Genre: Action
Publisher: TDK - Mediactive
Developer: Taniko
Release Date: (In Stores Now)

For those of you who don’t remember He-Man, you are denying your past. Just in case you don’t remember playing with the toys or watching the television show, I will run you through a crash course. There is a beautiful utopia called Eternia, where the whole bash goes down. Eternia has, since the beginning of time, been known for peace and beauty. This sacred land has never been tainted by the evil on the outside world, protected not only by the mystic wall, but also by the Masters of The Universe. This little bunch of do-gooders is inhabited by the likes of Stratos, the monkey with wings, Man-At-Arms, the walking tank, and our hero and consequently the mightiest of the bunch, He-Man! Together they are the last hope of defending Eternia as the malevolent Skeletor and his invading armies attack. Skeletor’s minions have managed to break down the mystic wall and push the Masters Of The Universe to the edge of Eternia. It is up to you, He-Man, to protect your land. Do you have the power?

Action games usually have to have certain aspects in order to make a decent game. Masters of the Universe pretty much hit the nail on the head, for an action game. The controller layout is pretty easy to figure out. This is definitely one of the few games nowadays that you can pick up and instantly start having fun as well as catching onto the controls just as quickly. As the game progresses, you’ll find that it plays, generally, like the Gauntlet series. Your B button will be your sword slash, and if charged, you can do a spin attack that does double the damage. However, when charging you’re left vulnerable to attacks. The R trigger will manipulate the use of He-Man’s shield, while the L trigger acts as a run modifier. The A button will also control the jumping aspect of the game, which only comes in handy when jumping over drop-offs and acid pits.

I love the fighting engine used in this game. It’s the first game I have seen in a long time that utilizes the idea of being able to block opponents. Using the R trigger to block creates more of a strategy feel to the battles, as well as eliminating the need to slash-and-dash. When you hit an enemy, a life circle displays above their head. Every time you inflict damage upon the enemy, a piece of the circle disappears, and when the circle disappears, so does the enemy. The bosses, however, are the exception to the rule. You have no idea how far the bosses are from imminent death. In fact, the only clue you get is when they drop dead. I mentioned earlier that this game feels a bit like Gauntlet. The reason I say that is because some of the enemies, not all, come from spawn points. These spawn points are basically portals from the evil world where Skeletor awaits. You can destroy the portals to stop the flow of enemies coming from them. He-Man also has portals, however his transport one power up and they do not keep coming out.

The Boss fights are rather standard for a game of this nature. Each boss basically walks around and hits you, but once you think they only walk around and take swings and shots, they bust out their little quirks. Once you figure out each boss' strategy and weakness, you’re set to go.

In between levels, you will get a little comic strip, which is surprisingly well-done, to let you know what the story is and the progress you have to make to save Eternia. Another way that this game shows diversity is in the way that it has in-between mini games. After you beat a level, you have a chance to run around it and pick up a certain amount of skulls within a certain time to earn extra points or an extra life. My personal favorite mini game is the one where you ride on this half-breed between an ostrich and a mockingbird to pick up life power ups.

The animations in this game are rock solid. You can really tell how much detail has been put into each movement, and the opening cinematic is very well drawn. I personally have a sweet spot for the GBA hardware and the way its graphics are represented, and this game is a great example to show off the GBA’s graphical support. The only downfall to the graphics of this game is that the developers could have done a lot more with particle effects.

Overall, if you are looking for a game that you can pick up and immediately start having fun without having to read for thirty minutes, this title would be a rather good choice. For those of you who were die-hard Gauntlet fans but are looking for something just a little bit different, you might want to take a look at this gem. The only real downer about this game is that it goes by rather quickly; although the levels are in-depth, they're quite short, making for a rather abbreviated game.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

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