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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Pokemon Gen 1 – Red,Blue,Yellow (1996/1998) Review

Pokemon its officially the best selling videogame franchise of all time and one of my personal favourites to sit down and play, I have only ever covered spin off’s on this website so far but I feel that we should start deep diving the main series, starting with Generation 1 and covering Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Yellow (Green never left Japan so I wont be discussing that one here)

If you are new to this series you may be a little confused as to why we are covering three games today, to makes things even more complicated all three are the same game with just minor differences. The reason for this is because Pokemon games are made with the idea of trading with friends as its main feature, in order to make it impossible to catch all 151 Pokemon on one cartridge developers split the Pokemon into two packages, the basics are in both but certain Pokemon were only either in Red or Blue meaning that in order to catch them all you needed a friend with the other copy and a Gameboy link Cable. Yellow was released two years later in 1998 and changed some dialogues, sprites and gym battles to better represent to anime television series.

I will be covering as many differences as I can throughout this review and will try to give Gen 1 as much justice as I can.

After your initial set up and introduction to the Kanto Region by Professor Oak you soon find yourself at his Laboratory where he will offer yourself and your rival one of three of Pokemon, you get to pick first first from either Charmander a fire type, Squirtle a water type or Bulbasaur a grass type. I always choose Grass as it is strong against Rock and Water types which just so happen to be the first two gyms of the game.

In Pokemon Yellow, you dont get to choose instead you are given a Pikachu, your Rival who most name Gary would then be given an Eevee.

Either way after choosing your first Pokemon you take part in your first battle, at this point your level 5 Pokemon will only have a few moves, normally scratch and growl, Scratch an offensive type will damage your opponent and growl will weaken their attack.

As you level up by battling you will earn money to buy moves but with patience Pokemon will learn most of the best moves when they reach certain levels or evolutions.

In the games there is a total of 151 Pokemon and players can build a small team using Pokemon that they trap in Pokeballs, their are different types of Pokemon who will have advantages and disadvantages against others. In Gen 1 there are 15 types you can get Normal, Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Steel.

As you progress through the game these encounters become more challenging and better Pokeballs such as Ultraballs are needed to ensure capture.

There are specials moves you find throughout your adventure which allows certain Pokemon to interact with the environment, these HM moves are generally very useful for example cut allows you cut down certain trees, flash can light dark areas, surf means you cross water, strength can move heavy boulders and finally fly allows you to fast travel back to areas you have already visited.

As Pokemon level up they may start to evolve this will change their form and ultimately make them stronger, it will also count as a completely new Pokemon which helps you on your quest to get all 151 (if you decide to actually do that) some however cannot exist or evolve without help from an item, early on in the game you get to choose between two fossils and which one you choose can resurrect an extinct Pokemon later on in the game. Items such as elemental stones or moon stones can help evolve Pokemons for example I used a moon stone on my Nidorino to get a Nidoking and then I used a thunderstone on the secret Eevee you can find to get my Jolteon.

Your journey takes you through many trials and landscapes, the main goal is to beat the gyms these are buildings with trainers and a leader focusing on one specific Pokemon type, gaining badges allows you further access to use HM’s and in turn further progress through the game.

For me the best part is actually exploring the different areas throughout the world, the SS Anne is a ship that is filled to the brim with Pokemon battles, its a great place to level up early in the game, Pokemon Tower a grave site for deceased Pokemon’s while pretty creepy its a fun place to catch the few ghost Pokemon of the game and my absolute favourite thing to do is find and catch the four legendary Pokemon Articuno, Moltres, Zapdos and Mewtwo (Mewtwo is only obtainable after beating the elite four)

A casino area in Celadon City is available in all three games, here you can play slots to earn or lose money, once you get high amounts of casino coins you can trade for rarer Pokémon’s, in Yellow a surfing minigame was added as one of the new features, it is a pretty fun game and is one of most memorable parts of Pokemon Yellow.

The Safari Zone might also be considered a type of minigame, you need to complete this to get Fly but its main purpose is as giant wild area filled with easier to catch Pokemon’s, you cant battle these but can make them angry or bait them in hopes of having a better chance of catching them, you only get 30 balls and can take 500 steps so try to finish the area and get Fly before you are forced to pay and start again.

As you slowly progress towards Victory Road and the Elite Four you will be catching and training many different Pokemons, its up to you to decide who will be your main team but you want strong Pokemon with a good balance of status and offensive attacks to win, this final stretch has you fighting 5 battles in a row with no chance to heal at a Poke Center so taking all of the potions and healing items you need is completely necessary.

This time around my final team was Venosaur, Ninetails, Snorlax, Nidoking, Jolteon and Lapras.

The soundtrack is one of my favourite videogame soundtracks of all time, there is not a single song that I dislike, I feel they all suit the game extremely well, the opening gets you so pumped for the adventure your about to go on and from there it just gets better and better, the creepy music from lavender town always comes to mind as quite unsettling, the silph co music is ton of fun and of course that battle music is insanely good. It could be nostalgia talking but this particular soundtrack really does mean an awful lot to me.

The first generation of Pokemon is what made up a lot of people’s childhoods, many a day was spent trading Pokémon’s and battling our friends using the link cable and today it holds up very well, there are not many people to trade with these days but the actual main campaign is a lot of fun, it has a great story, memorable characters and really fun areas to explore. The game can be very challenging because the difficulty does increase vastly as you progress so some grinding and strategy is required to beat the game.

The only issue I had with the game was that the item storage system was badly organised and I had to rearrange it and empty it a lot, the PC storage system has a limit so that filled up quickly as well, one final slight annoyance was that status effects happened far too often, I would get poisoned or burned then use the item to get rid of it but the opposing Pokemon would just reapply the status effect almost immediately, this happened a lot and while I know it is part of the game I feel maybe the developers could have made these effects happen just a little less often than they did.

Apart from these tiny set backs Gen 1 is a really a great set of games, obviously Yellow is slightly better than Red and Blue because you can get all of the starters in that game and that extra minigame is a bonus but these are pretty solid titles that even today I would give Red/Blue 9.0/10 and Yellow 9.3/10.

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Metroid 2:Return of Samus (GB) Review

Metroid_II_US_boxartReleased in 1991 for the Nintendo Gameboy and recently remade for the Nintendo 3DS Metroid 2: Return of Samus is the second game in the Metroid franchise and it was the first game to introduce players to the complicated order of the series as this game is not a direct sequel to the original Metroid but it infact takes place after Metroid Prime Federation Force and before Super Metroid.

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Metroid 2 follows Samus on a mission to destroy all of the remaining metroids on the planet SR388 after many other bounty hunters had failed in their missions and had not returned from the planet and thats about it for the plot its simple but its not like a huge, crazy storyline is needed for a metroid game so I was satisfied with how straight to the point the story was in metroid 2.

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The visuals are fantastic and a lot better than the first game, the designers have still stuck to the darker backgrounds and mostly empty environments which gives and eerie feeling while your playing but at the same time the labyrinth style game play here is much more complicated than it was in the first game, I found a lot of the environments here all looked very similar and it made it difficult for me to navigate my way throughout the planet especially considering the game yet again does not provide an in-game map, getting lost in metroid 2 happened far too often for me and it became frustrating very quickly, the graphics are very smooth and the animations are great but the ugly grey colour the game boy puts out was a little off putting I wanted more colors in this world and I think this would have made the navigation easier as well.

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With the game play mostly focusing on Samus killing metroids players would hope that a large variety of challenging and unique types of metroids would be in the game and for the most part I can say this is true, there are a lot of metroids in this game and most of them are sub bosses the only issue I have with this is that you need missiles and a lot of health and even though this game finally includes areas which refill both of these there are so few of them that it makes fighting all of these massive sub bosses extremely frustrating especially when you have to back track so far just to get a refill, apart from this the game controls fluently and there are plenty of powerups for you to seek out and collect.

The soundtrack here has definitely taken a step down in quality compared to that of the first game,there is more variety in music in Metroid 2 but apart from a few tracks the limitations of the gameboy’s sound capabilities really took away a lot of the atmosphere from the music, the end credits theme and final boss music are both awesome and full of energy but most other tracks are short and repeat on a loop, it gets annoying and to be honest I spent most of the game listening to podcasts due to me not enjoying the sound track.

And that was Metroid 2 Return of Samus, this is a fantastic game boy game and a pretty good edition to the Metroid series, I had more issues with this game than I did the original but its still holds enough ground on its own to be considered a good title, the graphics are fantastic and the game controls perfectly however the annoying navigation and lack of a stellar soundtrack really knocks down my opinion of this title therefore Metroid 2: Return of Samus gets a not so high but still impressive 7.3/10

I hope you enjoyed my review of Metroid 2: Return of Samus for the Nintendo Game Boy

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Wave Race (Game Boy) Review

Big thanks to Michael Elvidge for sending in Wave Race

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Wave Race on the Nintendo Game Boy is one of the very few Game Boy games that I owned when I was a child, I remember that I would always bring this game to the playground and me and my friends would often challenge each other to see who was the fastest racer.

Back then I thought that Wave Race was a fantastic game, but how does it hold up today?Wave_Race_GBC_ScreenShot1If you haven’t figured it out yet,Wave Race is a Jet Ski racing game, you and three other players which can either be CPU’s or your friends who you have the ability to race against  by connecting via the Game Boy Link Cables.

If you decide to play alone you will be have the ability to select one of three options

Practice-  Selecting this option allows the player to select any course they desire, they can then race through the selected course alone with no other players or CPU’s, this option can be extremely useful as some of the tracks  later on in the game  have been built for more advanced players as they contain more obstacles such as whirl pools and strong currents of water which slow down the racers,  also these later courses have a more complicated and challenging layout compared to the earlier courses.

All Courses for Circuit mode

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 All Courses for Slalom

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Record- This mode shows the player their best times for every track in circuit mode and it also shows them the total amount of time they have spent on each track, this is a really useful feature that any competitive players will enjoy using for bragging rights it is also really cool to see this kind of feature on such an old game.

and finally 1P aka the single player mode,  as soon as you select this option you will be greeted to another screen which will give the option of playing Circuit Mode or Slalom.

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Circuit Mode is essentially just a Grand Prix of the four available courses, the player will have to race three CPU’s through out each course while trying to avoid being bashed by the other racers while also steering away from any obstacles in their path to victory, depending on what place you finish at the end of each course you will be given a set amount of points and once the Grand Prix is over all of the points will be added up and the player with the most points will be crowned the winner.

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Slalom is similar to Circuit mode as you are still racing three CPU’s in all four of the Slalom Courses, the big difference is that now instead of racing to a finish line the main objective is to race through marked flags in a set order, again depending on how long this takes you will determine what place you will finish, once all of the courses are complete every players points will be added up and the one with the most points will become the winner.

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The overall look and sound of the game is mediocre to say the least, even though we are given two different game modes I wish that a larger selection of courses were available because 8 courses isn’t enough to keep bringing people back.

I also cant say much for the music as again there really isn’t a lot of it, during the different selection screens and menu’s we are presented with some catchy little tunes, but during the racing segments there is no music at all and the only sound you can hear is the penetrating sound of the jet ski’s motor and this gets very annoying. very quickly.

Overall Wave Race is nothing special but that in no way makes it a bad game,it has tight and simple controls and  even though we are not given much variety in course selection or music the game it self is still fun to play especially with friends, I don’t recommend this game if you plan to play it alone though as I can see most people getting bored with it rather quickly, but if you plan to buy the game I suggest either playing it in short bursts or competitively with friends, as long play sessions did tend to give me a headache due to the annoying buzzing you hear during races.

Wave Race for the Nintendo Game Boy is an ok game but sadly that’s about it 5.4/10

I hope you enjoyed this review of Wave Race

If you respect my opinion, I will respect yours

By Padawan

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