Movie Games: ELF (2003)

Welcome the second edition of Movie Games a series where we look at a film and then its video game counterparts to not only discuss a games quality but how accurate of an adaptation it is.

In this Christmas episode I will be deep diving into the the 2003 comedy film ELF starring Will Ferrell, this movie only had one videogame adaptation releasing on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance the same year as the film.

First a Recap of the movie and I wont be shy on spoilers so be wary!

On Christmas Eve a baby from an orphanage crawls into Santa’s Sack and is taken to the North Pole, an older Elf agrees to raise the baby and 30 years later the now adult and much taller Buddy is struggling to fit in with the elves, he finds out he is a human and decides to travel to New York City to find his real father Walter Hobbs.

Buddy passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Upon arrival in New York Buddy is searching everywhere for his Father, causing havoc along the way, eating discarded gum, running around evolving doors and jumping across zebra crossings.

He finds his father in the Empire state building but is soon thrown out after Security is called by Walter Hobbs himself, the security sarcastically suggests Buddy goes back to Gimbels.

Taking the request literally Buddy goes into the department store and is mistaken for an employee of Santa’s Village here he meets the friendly but unenthusiastic Jovie, Buddy is so excited for Santa coming to visit the store that he stays behind over night to decorate the store. The next morning Santa comes to the store but its an imposter, Buddy rips off his beard and a fight ensues, Buddy is arrested but bailed out by Walter Hobbs who takes him to a doctor for a DNA test which proves a positive match!

Walter reluctantly takes his Son home to meet his wife Emily and his other son Michael, Walter doesn’t warm up to Buddy as quickly as Emily does and wants to throw him out onto the streets but Emily insists that Buddy stays with them until he recovers from his fantasies.

Buddy soon becomes a friend of Michael after he defeats his school bullies in an epic snowball fight, the two mess around the Gimbles department store and bump into Jovie, Michael encourages Buddy to ask her out and she says yes, after the date goes really well Buddy runs to his dads works to tell him that he is in love not knowing that world renowned author Miles Finch is there.

Finch who is short in stature is mistaken for an Elf by Buddy and his extremely offended walking out on his deal with Walter, Walter in a rage tells buddy to stay out of his life, buddy leaves and writes a goodbye letter to his family, while making his way back through New York City he spots Santa’s Sleigh crashed at Central Park, the Sleigh runs on Christmas Spirit but it had finally ran out and Santa asks Buddy to help him get it back.

Meanwhile Walter is now in another meeting with the CEO of the company after he finds Miles Finches notebook which is full of ideas, Michael bursts in and emotionally convinces Walter to choose family over work losing his job in the process, Walter and Michael find buddy in Central Park, the two makeup and help Buddy with his mission, Walter dresses as Santa to try and divert the Park Rangers while Michael takes Santa’s list and reads it on live TV convincing viewers of Santa’s existence.

Jovie remembers when Buddy told her “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” and begins singing Santa Claus is coming to town, the New Yorkers all join in and even Walter gets in on the action finally giving the sleigh enough power to fly again. In the finale we see Buddy spending Christmas with his family and the following year visiting his Papa Elf in the North Pole along with his Wife Jovie and their baby Susie, a truly happy ending.

The GBA videogame is a 2D platformer and for the most part it controls fine but the game is really bare bones when it comes to its gameplay, this is as generic as 2D platformers can get.

I will give some props to the game for adding various goals into some stages such as collecting all of Christmas Lights and the letters to spell NEWYORK.

Other stages are designed as either top down platformers or minigames, the worst of these stages is easily jumping across the Icebergs, this stage had really bad issues with landing, in most cases you would hit the water when you had definitely landed on the iceberg but because it wasn’t centred the game took that as a miss, the stage is very long and at some points the platforms you need land on are moving which makes it even worse.

Jumping is very floaty in the game in all platforming levels, the iceberg was definitely the worst offender but some other simple platforming such as jumping over the polar bears also proved to be needlessly difficult at times.

The minigame stages are all fine but very generic and extremely easy, examples of what to expect are the usual repeat the button presses, link up the pipes and hit the targets, minigame staples that we see in almost any game.

I’m not going to criticise the game on being generic as that’s almost expected from this, what I will criticise however is how lazy this adaptation actually is they use screenshots from the movie with no dialogue text to give players any idea on what is going on and to top this off the levels are not even accurate to movie.

Small errors such as the snowball fight including elves instead of school bullies,a lack of Walter Hobbs and his family (minus one screenshot at the end of the game) levels with plots including collecting Christmas lights, helping Santa deliver presents and a very small number of movie screenshots which no context make me wonder if this was released either before the movie or developed by a team who had no idea of the plot, needless to say its a pretty lame game and an even worse movie adaptation.

The soundtrack is awful we are only given some very simple audio loops or really bad chiptunes of Christmas songs just another another way to rush development and give the game even less originality.

This Christmas watch the movie but do yourself a favour and skip the GBA game!

2.7/10

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The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) Review

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is an action adventure game developed by Flagship with funding from Capcom for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance.

It is the twelfth game in the Legend of Zelda game series and is the first game in the timeline which focuses on the villain Vaati, who’s story is continued in both Fours Swords and Four Swords Adventures. Minish Cap was directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi.

The game focuses on Vaati a new villain who was previously seen in Four Swords and would appear in Four Swords Adventures later on, This is his origin story and his first evil scheme where he turns Princess Zelda to stone, this event causes link to collect the elements and form the Four Sword in order to save her and defeat the evil Minish wizard.

The game follows a very similar formula to prior games in the series where you will travel across the Land, collect upgrades and conquer dungeons, I found that the game felt closer to the original games as it didnt really hold your hand or drop too many hints on where are you are supposed to go which really helped to encourage players to explore on their own which is the best way to play any game in this series. When you reboot the game after shutting off the power, the character Ezlo (Links Hat in the game) will tell players what the current main quest is, I like this as it is useful as a quick reminder without forcing you to stick to the quest.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers here as there is a lot of side content to discover but one of the most interesting for me at least was when I accidently found a port hole which took me to a house where I was able to help exorcize an evil spirit. Because I chose to do this, later on in my quest the main plot returned me to this house and I was awarded the Light Arrows, unlike other games these are not needed to defeat the boss but are substantially more powerful than the original arrows.

In the game you can find items called kinstones, these can be paired with other characters kinstones to unlock secrets and helpful items, almost all NPC’s have kinstones so just try to connect with as many as possible, I thought this was one of the most creative parts of the game and I really enjoyed finding as many secrets as I could and I know that I left a lot behind so I look forward to returning to Minish Cap again to try and find the rest of them.

The main mechanic of the game is the ability to shrink down to the size of a Minish, the Minish are miniscule elf like creatures who live in tiny homes hidden far from the human eye. Link can shrink in many areas of the game and this mechanic is used for discovering further secrets and to defeat some bosses and solving dungeon puzzles, I really enjoyed this mechanic as it added so much more to the game and was implemented really well as it very important to the plot and was genuinely a lot of fun to use.

The game recycles a lot of music from past games and uses a few original tracks as well. The re-used music has been enhanced with some changes so that it works on the GBA and it sounds really nice, the soundtrack may not be as ground-breaking as other games in the series but it is very impressive for GBA title, The music is well composed and has extremely high quality for a game on the GBA, in fact some of the music in this game I prefer over the original versions from games such as Ocarina of Time and a Link to the Past.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap really surprised me because for some reason I always skipped on playing this one, I’m glad I played it now as it was one of the best gaming experiences I have had in a very long time, as it normally is with hand held titles the game was short and after I was finished I really wanted to start the game again hopefully this time discovering new secrets.

I do have some complaints but they are only minor, the first is that while collecting sea shells and trading them in for models was a cool idea I thought it could have been executed better as it took a long time for me to empty my shells so that I could make space for more, the only other issue I had was the fairies, in all games prior to this fairies your trap in bottles would either fully heal you or give you a fair amount of hearts when you die, in this game you only get four hearts back so you really want to focus on buying Red Potion instead. I would not normally complain about this but it is so different to what we got before and it is not explained in the game that they will only give you a few hearts so it is very annoying for regular fans of the series who would not expect this.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is easily one of the best GBA games I have ever played, It was really fun to explore Hyrule in this and the new mechanics such as shrinking, the mole mitts and fusing kinstones gave me lots of secrets to uncover and it felt like a title in the series that really took a leaf out of Zelda’s roots, the complaints I do have with the game are tiny, the fairies are very annoying as it was not stated clearly in the game that they wont fully heal you and while the models took a very long time to empty your shells, you don’t have to do this at all, I know wont be doing this next time I play it. The sound track while mostly recycled was very good and I loved every second of it, graphically the game is stunning and is an art piece throughout, as a Minish when you start to explore smaller areas it is beautiful and I give credit to the artists.

My issues with this game as so small that I think unfair for me to even consider them for my final rating, the worst was the fairies but unless you are a long time fan of the series this probably wouldn’t bother you, so with this in mind I think that this games does everything that a Zelda should and more, it is pratically flawless in its visuals, music, gameplay and story and is now one of my favourite games in the series and it is only deserving of a 10/10 a rating which has only be received by a Link to the Past so hats off to Minish Cap it truly is a wonderful gaming experience.

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Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga (GBA/3DS) Review

Mario is back and this time its an rpg?

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Mario and Luigi superstar saga was released in 2003 for the Game boy advance it was developed by a team called Alpha Dream and was produced by Nintendo, as mentioned the game is an RPG and was likely made due to the success of the first Paper Mario game, Super Star Saga was very popular after its release and is still a fan favourite to this day so it was of no surprise that a remake was made for the 3DS I am just surprised that the remake didn’t get released before this, so which version of the game is better?

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The plot between both games is exactly the same with the exception that the remake has an additional campaign.

An evil witch called Cackletta and her minion Fawful go to Princess Peaches Castle with a plan to steal the Princesses voice and replace it with explosives, a Toad travels to the home of Mario and Luigi informing the two brothers about what happened, when they both arrive they find Bowser who was hoping to Kidnap Princess Peach but decided against it after he noticed the Princesses rather dangerous new set of pipes, instead the Koopa King decides to team up with the Mario brothers in order to help Peach get her voice back meaning that he could kidnap her without risking the destruction of his castle.

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The Game play is where the differences really start to show and the 3DS version has gotten a lot of backlash due to the changes it has made, in both versions the battle system is turned based and as far as I am aware the way you fight is also the same, the brothers can both jump, hammer, use magic and perform combination attacks in order to defeat enemies, the 3DS version is slightly more lenient than the original as I found avoiding attacks and performing combos here a lot easier than I did back in the day, there is also an easy mode that can be switched too at anytime so the battle system isn’t too complicated for younger fans either.

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The game is also filled to the brim with puzzles that the brothers must solve when travelling across the games large map, not many stand out to me but one of my favourites is the mine cart game and the barrel matching game on the pirate ship.

MARIO LUIGI SUPERSTAR SAGA 3DS COMPARAISON

The visuals in the original game are outstanding, it’s full of exciting and explosive colours, the animations are beautiful not to mention impressive for a game of that era and the little touches help bring a lot of emotion and well timed comedy to the game, the remake while also beautiful doesn’t really push the 3DS to it’s full potential and it’s more of a nicer re skin of what we already had than anything new and unique however it’s still nice to look at and still helps the game maintain its charm and originality.

The music is fantastic, the game has a great soundtrack which varies between nice and cheerful music to scary and intense tracks and each help to build up the mood of the game

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The biggest new addition to the remake is Bowsers minions a brand new 6 hour long campaign, the game is not what you would expect, I wanted a full RPG experience but it’s more of a game that focuses on building an army and levelling up your troops, I personally don’t like this type of game style so the fact that I really couldn’t get into it does not mean that you won’t

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Mario and Luigi superstar saga is one of the best RPG’s you can buy it’s fun, easy enough to learn and it gives a whole new and interesting spin to the Mario universe, the remake adds a whole new campaign and a new coat for the visuals which makes it worth buying if you like the style of games such as age empires and star craft otherwise I wouldn’t spend money on the 3DS remake as this is the only massive bonus available, you can also purchase the original game through the Nintendo Eshop for much cheaper than the 3DS version, I love both versions of the game so it’s hard for me not to give both version a very high score but I think the 3DS remake beats the original by a nudge due to the additional content and clearer visuals.

The orginal game 9.4/10

The 3DS remake 9.6/10

I hope you enjoyed my review of Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo 3DS.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com