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GamesFirst! Magazine

Dark Arena

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Fall 2001 for GBA

Download a movie clip of Dark Arena here.


Skip to the latest screens (10.08.01)

da12.jpg (7284 bytes)The Game Boy Advance allows developers to put game genres on a handheld system that were hitherto impossible. The chorus of E3 2001 was "Content is King," and the refrain was "Game Boy Advance." The Game Boy is the only platform in town, and Nintendo has done an amazing job with the new system. With games like Dark Arena, it is easy to see how such huge frenzy could build about the little GBA.

Dark Arena is a first-person shooter, set in a futuristic hostile environment. The story goes like this:

Its the year 2146, and The United Arms Organization has completed the top secret training of its finest soldiers. The camp was segmented into several sectors, designed to test the physical skills and resources of very trainee. Genetically engineered opponents were created to assess the combat skills of each trainee – these opponents were xtremely dangerous, very aggressive and were considered the ultimate challenge. These pponents took over and within 48 hours had captured the facility, killing everybody…everybody except for you. Defeat the enemies, and you just might live long enough to cross the camp and escape! (DA Factsheet)

da09.jpg (8818 bytes)Spooky, eh? It sounds a bit like Half-Life meets Universal Soldier, and the character design is distinctly Unreal or Quake. However, story is certainly the emphasis in this game, which features a musical score, realistic sound effects, and FMV cutscenes. Awe at the power of the GBA. Go ahead.

da02.jpg (8475 bytes)Dark Arena sports 20 levels of single-player story mode, and will also allow multi-player deathmatch in several deathmatch-specific arenas. There will be six weapons that make big explosions available, and blowing stuff up is a major part of the game, along with solving puzzles and avoiding traps. The game also features an automap function, indicating some complex levels. The graphics on Dark Arena are amazing, with animated textures and great lighting effects.

da06.jpg (7575 bytes)Although Dark Arena is still in the early stages, what was playable at E3 made me very excited. Dark Arena is fast, responsive, and actually looks really good on the GBA. The emphasis on story mode is excellent, and the list of features planned for the game demonstrates that the developers, Graphic State Limited, have done their homework. I am very intrigued by the cinematic elements of the game, and hope that "FMV" isn’t a euphemism for "slideshow." DA does have some good competition for the first FPS on a handheld system award from Ecks Vs. Sever, but both of these games indicate a brilliant future for the genre on the GBA. Overall, this is another one to save your pennies for. It’s coming for you this fall.

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Shawn Rider


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