Genre: Platform Adventure
Developer: Pocket Studios
Release Date: May 27, 2003
Buy 'THE INCREDIBLE HULK': Game Boy Advance
With the release of the movie and everything from Hulk cereal and Hulk Hands, it should come as no surprise that Vivendi Universal let loose Hulk games on all major platforms, including Game Boy Advance. So, does this Hulk smash or belong in the trash?
The Incredible Hulk starts off by explaining the origin the Hulk. While testing his newly invented weapon in the desert, Bruce Banner is exposed to ordinarily lethal amounts of gamma radiation. However, in lieu of dying, Banner gains the ability to transform into the Hulk, a gigantic green juggernaut, in times of extreme anger or stress.
The first level of the game has the Hulk trying to escape from the military compound in which he’s currently being held. Unsurprisingly, the military doesn’t feel that it’s time for him to check out. Luckily, the hulk has several moves at his disposal. The standard punch attack and barge (Hulk charges ahead, shoulders first, running over anything in his path) are available from the get-go. His more impressive (and effective) moves need to be unlocked by performing Super Smashes or Rampages. Super Smashes occur if you destroy two enemies at a time, and Rampages happen when you manage to take out four or more enemies at once. Perform enough of these to fill up all of the stars at the bottom of the screen, and the Hulk becomes a much more effective smashing machine.
Special moves require you to have at least one level of Rage built up. Rage increases as long as you’re smashing something, whether it be enemies, or part of the level. There’s a lot of stuff you can smash, and thankfully so: you’ll need to utilize all of your special moves to survive. All of the attacks affect a certain radius around you. Two of the moves are a ground-pound, the second one having a better radius and more power. The third is a jumping attack which not only crushes anything unfortunate enough to be standing where you land, but also sends a shockwave rippling across the ground, knocking over other potential hostiles.
One of the bonuses of being the Hulk, aside from those stylin’ pants, is the superhuman strength. Anything you see in the environment that can’t be smashed can most likely be picked up and thrown at bad guys. In the early levels, it’s more of an option, but later on, you’ll need to chuck tanks and jeeps around if you want to make it out of a firefight alive. Your health regenerates over time, but at the same time, standing around, waiting for your health to fill up causes your Rage meter to hit rock bottom, leaving your options for any upcoming fights a bit limited.
Of all the Hulk games, the GBA version is the most unique in it’s presentation. While the console and PC versions opted to continue the story the movie began and use the actors to provide the voice, you won’t find anything like that in the GBA version, as it has a much more “comic book” feel. The story’s cut scenes are well-drawn comic book panels, complete with speech balloons and thought bubbles. Every time you perform a Super Smash or Rampage, it’ll flash across the screen in comic book letters. The in-game visuals aren’t quite at the same level, though. The Hulk himself looks fine, but the levels lack much animation. The developers could’ve been trying to make it feel more like you were playing a comic book by not animating things like the water, or torches, but that’s most likely not the case. The vehicles look nice and animate pretty well. Jeeps careening towards you with the intention of running you over double just as well as pinballs when you bat them around like playthings. The levels are pretty big, and it’s easy to get lost sometimes because there are too many similar looking objects, if any at all. Luckily, the game will give you a shove in the right direction from time to time with arrows that point to your current objective.
It’s clear what they had in mind when producing the music for the game: dramatic and powerful. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite get there, since the music comes off annoying and repetitive. The GBA sound chip is capable of producing music of a better quality, but since this is a movie tie-in game that had to be done when the movie came out, you shouldn’t have been expecting much anyway. Sound effects, while repetitive, get the job done, whether it be bullets rattling off, or jeeps trying to regain control after you’ve knocked them silly.
The Incredible Hulk does the movie and comic book justice, and fans of either (or the character in general) should probably check it out. At times, it can be a little frustrating, and the bosses require some careful strategizing, but once you beat them, you’ll feel like you genuinely accomplished something as opposed to just slop through it.
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