of the things about the Gameboy Advance that has surprised me the
most has been the sheer absense of quality two-dimentional platform
games. Aside from Nintendo's reisues of their Super NES classics
like Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island, what
has there been? Three Castlevania and two Metroid
games that all play exactly the same? Five revisions of Super
everything else has been terrible, and I think that's because most
developers have lost those skills they once had in the past; the
age of 3D polygon worlds has renered sprite-based graphics obsolete.
I never would have believed that if someone ten years ago predicted
this would happen. Perhaps this is why I have so little enthusiasm
for most of today's console games. Hardly anybody makes real videogames
suspect that's also why I'm so willing to defend a title like Go
Go Beckham. Denki's mascot platformer from Europe is excessively
repetitious, and after six or seven levels you begin to suspect
you've already seen everything, and the developers are just padding
the clock. This game wouldn't be remembered among the giants of
the 16-bit era, but the gameplay and design is so solid you don't
clever hook in this game is that you control a soccer player who
uses the ball as a weapon. This was used over a decade ago in a
game called Marko's Magic Football, but that was a pointless gimmick
in a lousy, wretched excuse for a game (why it appeared on every
console known to man remains a mystery). Go Go Beckham's game worlds
are designed with soccer skills in mind. Kicking, jumping, knocking
the ball with your head - these are all employed to great effect.
are a number of enemies that manage to steal your ball and gleefully
knock it away, bonus balls can be discovered, and levels are completed
by kicking the ball through a goal. I'm impressed by these smart
touches; you'll have to occasionally wander around alone and unguarded.
in the typical Mario vein, there are many gems, coins, eggs, and
balls to find. For some levels, this is almost pedestrian, but for
others it can be a real challenge. I keep hoping that some discovery
would lead to a bonus world or extra stage, something to change
the pace a little. Here were are in 2005, and still I'm impressed
by the warp rooms and cloud zones from 1985's Super Mario Bros.
Go Beckham looks terrific, in that retro Super Nintendo sort of
way, overtly cute and cuddly and all that. Perhaps, once again,
this is nostalgia creeping up, but I enjoy these graphics. I honestly
expected dozens of games like this to appear on the Advance, but
that never happened. Why is that, I suppose?
brings me back to the repetition thing. Couldn't Denki's designers
do more than re-color the same backgrounds over and over? Would
it have killed them to inject a little variety? I don't
mind being given only four game worlds (with nine or ten levels
each), don't jerk me around with palette swaps. Hell, just put up
some clouds or change the time of day. They're just being lazy.
we have a game that is merely good instead of great. We're not living
in an age of greatness, anyway. We have to enjoy these little moments
when we can.