Developer: Digital Eclipse
Release Date: November18, 2003
Mucha Lucha! Mascaritas of the Lost Code is a new GBA game based on the WB cartoon series of the same name. Have we ever actually seen an episode of the cartoon? Uhhh, no. But if this game is any indication of what to expect from it then it's safe to say that we're not missing much. Nevertheless, Mucha Lucha! features three characters from the cartoon; Rikochet, Buena Girl, and The Flea, all of which are Mexican masked wrestlers who happen to be in grade school. Only Rikochet is available from the get go, the other two wrestlers open up as you progress through the game. You'll kick and punch your way through disturbingly simplistic side-scrolling levels using an undeveloped fighting system in a quest to track down the culprit who stole the wrestling school's prized "Code of Masked Wrestling", whatever that may be. But like the rest of the experience, the story seems like it was thrown in as a place holder for what should have been something entertaining and/or interesting, or at least not infuriatingly boring.
Right from the beginning you'll be disappointed with Mascaritas' basic, one-dimensional beat-em-up antics. After 20 minutes or so you'll curse the retail outlet that had the audacity to put this game on the shelf. Playing longer than that is a technical impossibility, unless you're a glutton for punishment or a ne'er-do-well videogame reviewer who is under contract to see the game through. Each of the three characters in Mucha Lucha! comes with a few very basic fighting moves. Don't expect anything beyond punch, kick, throw, jump, and a single super move. The super move disposes of every on-screen baddie in one fell-swoop. Every move in the game (save for the super move) is ridiculously weak; most enemies require over 20 hits before they fall. What's worse is that there is very little indication when attacking that you are actually dealing damage to an opponent. Enemies simply go into a crouching block position after your first attack and then remain seemingly undaunted during each successive barrage until they inexplicably fall over and die.
All this nonsense boils down to a brawler which relegates the player to cornering an enemy and constantly jamming on the punch or kick button until he is no more. The enemies use no logical strategy in their fighting techniques whatsoever, usually they just stand around and wait for you to start pummeling them. Even in large groups you'll notice that the all-powerful button-mashing maneuver is equally formidable since you are only ever attacked by a single opponent at a time while the surrounding baddies politely wait for their turn. There are occasional boss fights in Mucha Lucha!, but even these guys can easily be disposed of by constantly hammering on the A or B buttons. They are just more time-consuming to defeat is all.
Final Fight or Double Dragon this game is not. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for the SNES puts Mucha Lucha! to shame. And, the famously horrific arcade game Bad Dudes looks like the Spanish Inquisition when contrasted against Mascaritas of the Lost Code. There is literally zero challenge in completing the game and as much satisfaction rewarded upon doing so. The amount of hits it takes to defeat enemies is an obvious attempt to prolong the lifespan of the game. But even so it's not a problem to beat the game in just a couple of hours.
Another tactic that the developers implemented in an attempt to pad out the experience is including pointless objectives in each level. At the end of each stage you'll be rewarded a grade based on how you performed. Obtaining an A in each stage is simply a matter of disposing of every bad guy and doing so within a set time. The only way to get a bad grade is to either stand around doing nothing for a few minutes at a time, or skipping certain "hidden" areas that contain a few power-ups and baddies. These so-called objectives do absolutely nothing to enhance the experience.
The visuals in Mascaritas of the Lost Code are far from impressive, great, or even good - as horrendous as the game's gameplay is, the graphics are a breath of fresh air comparatively. There is a distinctive hand drawn art style to all the characters and environments in the game, which do a good enough job of resembling a low-budget cartoon. The animation, however, is severely lacking. Each character in the game seems to have received only a single frame of animation for each of their scant few moves they can perform, and the enemies in the game are even more visually disenchanting. Had it not been for the fact that the opponents unenthusiastically stick out their leg or arm during a brawl, we would have never known that they were even fighting back.
The sound fares a bit better than the gameplay and graphics, but is still distinctly generic. All the expected sound effects that come with standard 16-bit brawlers are included, though the hallow thud that comes from attacks seems lifted directly out of every other side-scrolling fighting game we've ever played. The music is entirely simplistic and boring though surprisingly doesn't annoy. Every now and then you'll be treated to a digitized voice sample exclaiming "Mucha Lucha!", and that's kind of neat, I guess.
Overall, Mucha Lucha! Marcaritas of the Lost Code is just a very, very bad game. The included battery save feature is about the only good thing about it, since it means that you can shut the game off without fear that you'll have to retread the same boring levels next time you pick it up. Even if you spot this game in the bargain bin, stay far, far away. You'll be glad you didn't waste your time and money on this POS.
Score : 3.0/10
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