Friday, June 1, 2012

The Too-Much-of-the-Same-Thing Towers

Hey, my first review! Huzzah! . . . ?

I recently played through Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for GameBoy Advance, which I had picked up on Ebay for $3.03 with free shipping. Not taking into account the whole Naruto debacle, this was my first GBA game.

It's your basic action RPG with a character you move around and enemies to chase down and hack. Each enemy gives you some experience and leveling up allows you to put more points into both your stats and skills. I do not have the manual for this game, so I can only guess that you can also earn skill points from killing a certain amount of enemies (at least that's the only thing I could guess since it otherwise seemed at random that I had more points to distribute).

While it has admittedly been a few years since I've seen the movie, the game seemed to follow the storyline really well, hitting all the key locations and even including a few screenshots and clips from the movie in all its pixelated glory!

Ahhh, Ebay . . .
At the beginning you can choose which of the five main characters you'd like to play as: Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Frodo or Eowyn. Each has different skill trees, different weapons they can wield and different artifacts they can discover. Probably the main change between the characters is in the locations you progress through throughout the game. As I stated before, it follows the storyline from the movie. This is the biggest aspect going for the game as far as replay value is concerned. It's interesting to cross paths of the character you had previously played through as and seeing how far along you are in your story now as compared to then.

I'll skip going into detail about the colorful graphics or well-suited music to keep this article a reasonable length, and dive right into what I didn't like. If you can't tell from the title of this article, as much fun as it may seem to play through again as a different character, I found the game much too repetitive to bother to do so. Maybe in a couple of months after I've had enough time away from it, I can come back and try it again, but without enough newness to the experience, I'm too bored with it.

Here are some suggestions I have for improvements that could have been made:
1) More puzzles! Sure, every now and then you came across an area where you had to pull a lever to get into a new area or figure out that a certain monster had to be killed, but it certainly wasn't enough to keep my brain engaged beyond the hack 'n' slash.
2) More healing stuffs! Each character starts with a healing spell, and consumables randomly appear to help out with that, but I often found myself standing around waiting for my energy to regenerate so I could cast the heal spell a few times before moving onto the next area. In conjunction with this, I usually ended up putting more points into the heal ability rather than cool fighting moves because of my disinterest in standing around waiting.
What kind of map is this?!
3) A map screen! When standing still for a while, often an arrow will appear to let you know what direction to go toward the exit of the level. While this may be good enough for most gamers, for those more OCD-inclined as to searching every inch to find every last treasure chest, it irks me not to know where I haven't been yet. And the map from the main menu doesn't count!

Overall, I really do think this is a good game and a great experience for fans of the movie (I'd like to say "book" as well, but I've only read Fellowship of the Ring, so can't speak as to that). I realize that many of my complaints are a bit nitpicky and may have to do more with the type of gamer I am than with the game itself. To sum up: good graphics and music, fun to play as characters you know and love, intuitive gameplay and controls. I say, if you come across it at a good price, go for it!

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