This is my first Gameboy review, and after having to review The Next Tetris for the PC, I was ready for a bit of monster trashing action. This action came in the form of Turok - Rage Wars. Not only was this game my first GBC review but also my first GBC game I have ever played period, so granted, I was a tad excited. I have of course played many of the original Gameboy games on friends Gameboy's so I knew how the whole setup worked. I am a hard-core PC gamer at heart, but this aside, my first impressions of this game left me a little disappointed. Before I am bombarded with emails telling me not to compare GBC against larger systems such as PC's, (even though I haven't and wouldn't), let me try and explain this seemingly rash conclusion so early in my review. But first I think you should have a bit of background on the game.
Turok - Rage Wars, is a GBC only game so the is no option to play it on a normal Gameboy, but due to this the game makers should be able to utilise the full potential of the GBC. So as you would expect the graphics were pretty good
As a basic introduction the story line goes something like this, a race of mutant things knows as Dinosoids called the "Amaranthine Accordance" are plotting to take over earth, (well there's an original plot!). These Dinosoids have managed to open dimensional doors so they can colonise new planets and are creating an increasing threat to an invasion of earth. You playing the part of Turok have joined up with some human friendly Dinosoids called the "Solidarity Order" who have managed to get enough information to also create dimensional doors and have decided to single handily take on this menace to your home planet earth and have to travel to each of the Armanthine Accordance's bases and kick some serious butt. (That is as opposed to some non-serious butt, which would probably turn it into a really messed up Monty Python sketch).
All of the levels are viewed in a third person style whilst looking down onto the action. There are three basic types of levels. The Zelda type exploring levels, were you have to go around and find a bomb, push a leaver of generally do something to get through the level. These levels added a bit more interest to the game than just the normal, baddies come towards you and then you blow the crap out of them with a weapon of your choice. These type of levels were definitely my favourite. Then there was the levels where the screen constantly scrolled along and you (the little blokey wiv' da guns an ammo) would have to constantly run along leaping over some obstacles, avoid getting caught behind others, generally blow the hell out of anything that moved/had scales/tried to shoot you, and most of all stay alive long enough to get to the end of the level, (which you knew you have done when the screen stopped scrolling). Then last of all, (even though these should have been first as the are the first type of levels the game has), are the platform type levels. In accordance to all platform games these levels are the type where you start at one end keep moving forward until you get to the other end, no semi-interesting mazes here.
There are no save points, but there are passwords given to you as you advance through the game. These are generally given after every 4-6 levels, (after you have obliterated a big boss type dude), and need to be written down. I didn't then turned my GBC off and had to restart from an old level and do it all over again, which in this game is painstakingly annoying.
When you enter a password you are taken to that level with full life and a nice array of weapons which you should have managed to collect by that part in the game. This I found was especially helpful because after defeating the big bad boss creature/machine at the end of a set of levels you were usually lacking in ammo and life, so being cheeky and restarting using the password, you were given a nice bit of everything you should have to tackle the next set of levels. Unfortunately when you enter a password, you start the level with the most basic weapon in your hand, the knife. In addition to this, some of these starting levels have psychotic creatures charging towards you straight away. So as you are holding just a knife you always end up loosing loads of life before you can kill them, or switch to a meaner weapon, this I thought was a tad unfair.
The game itself, was a bit of a mixed bag. Good points of the game were things such as the great array of weapons, such as the Blade Launcher (easily my fav.) and the Bazooka (a must for any game of this style). Plus the many different types of enemies to shoot all with individual characteristics, such as the polar bear type of monsters which threw great ice blocks and smashed through the ice, providing extra peril for our great purveyor of justice, Turok. But negative points in my view, were things such as, due to the speed of the game, levels where the screen constantly scrolled along scrolled were in my view too fast, which meant you were rushed through the level and ended up getting caught behind a rock and the screen would scroll past you and you would lose a life. Earlier levels were much too easy, and much too same old same old, which got very boring very quickly. Even changing the settings to hard only makes the enemies a little bit harder to kill and give you 2 less lives, which for the hardest setting isn't really that hard. Although later levels did manage to get a bit more of a challenge and have a bit more individuality, but you did start to get the feeling of 'oh great another one of these type of levels, I've only don't about a million of those already'. Even the Zelda type levels where you got a bit more freedom in where you go, started to all feel very similar as you went through the game.
Sound in and out of the game is great, that is one thing I just can't at all fault in this game. I love the sound, from the time you turn your GBC on and get that reassuring 'ping!' until you get completely frustrated with the game and turn the damn thing off, the sound keeps you sain, or insane in my case. There are tonnes of different sound effects, which really add to the game, and the music is also cool, not exactly sound track material but you cant have everything!
Graphics throughout the game were smooth, generally had a good use of colors to produce the different types of areas, very cool looking lava on the later levels is a great example of this. In-between sets of levels the text scrolled smoothly up the screen and overall were not displeasing at all.
The game play is not bad. One thing for sure the game speed is great, and even at some points too good. Some of the controls can take the fun out of the game, such as having to switch to the 'backpack' to do things such as changed the type of shield you wanted. Although this did prove to be a good way to pause the game if you needed to nip off for a quick slash/crap. (For hygiene reasons I refrain from playing my GBC on the bog).
Rage Wars is an all right game, but it does have it's fair share a faults. The game designers have obviously tried to put a lot of thought into this game, graphically and sound wise, but I found that after playing it for less than a week I was getting quite bord of it. The Gameboy Color is a great little gaming machine. Obviously the graphics can't compare to its larger counterparts, such as the N64 (See Khangs review of Turok - Rage Wars - N64). So games like these need to have those extra elements interwoven into the game to keep it fresh and interesting.
Unfortunately I found the Rage Wars for the GBC didn't seem to, and I was left feeling that the game is lacking in that special something. Maybe I am expecting too much, but in this day and age and with a machine with such potential, I feel that Rage Wars just doesn't meet the grade. The graphics and sound are both of a high standard, it's just the game itself which lets the whole thing down. It's true that PC/N64/PSX games may be able to get away with amazing 3D rendering and no real game to back it up. But unfortunately for game developers, Gameboy games as of yet can't. Overall it's not bad game, but it isn't great......NEXT!