another cookie-cutter 2-D beat em up for the Game Boy Advance. And look!
It is based off of a successful TV license. There are only about a
thousand games exactly like this piling up in GBA bargain bins and/or
landfills, so Im sure the demand for this game was very high.
</sarcasm> Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King is the
latest in a long line of games based on popular TV and movies that just
doesnt cut the mustard.
The story follows Buffy as she tries to stop a group of demons from
releasing a creature known as the Darkhul King. The Darkhul King has the
power to resurrect all of the demons and monsters that have been killed
by Buffy and the slayers that came before her. This, of course, would be
a bad thing. Along the way youll meet up with villains from the show as
well. Between levels, the story is told through poorly written dialogue
("Me fail English? Thats umpossible!") that appears underneath
surprisingly high quality photos of Buffy and the gang. The story is
actually pretty interesting but the game only takes about an hour to
in Wrath of the Darkhul King is pretty much your standard 2-D side
scrolling, beat em up, punch and kick adventure. There isnt much
vertical movement in the levels, so you spend most of your time running
from the left side of the screen to the right side fighting monsters as
you go. Combat is as simple as walking up to an enemy and unleashing a
flurry of punches and kicks in order to knock it down. Since this is
Buffy, though, a lot of the enemies are vampires that you have to drive
a stake into when theyre down. It is usually easier to just knock the
enemies down and keep going because it has no effect on the game whether
you kill the vampires or not. If you so choose you can also avoid combat
altogether by jumping over the enemies and traps on your way to the
exit. There are a few weapons available such as crosses and holy water
and even a flamethrower. You are limited in how much you can use these,
however, so most of the time you have to resort to chop socky.
The combat in Buffy is boring and too easy, but that is only half of
the problem here. Spread throughout the game are literally dozens of
wide chasms that you have to jump over using a double jump. A lot of the
time, the platform you are trying to jump to isnt even on screen so you
have to take a leap of faith, something that usually ends up with you
falling into a spike pit or running into an enemy. Performing the double
jump itself is made more difficult by the fact that there is absolutely
no margin for error. You have to tap the control pad twice to start
running and then hit the right shoulder button twice to double jump. If
your timing is off even a little bit, you die and have to start the
level over again. Jumping to a ledge or grabbing a rope shouldnt be
this difficult. The creatures you fight arent the enemy here, the
crappy level design is.
Buffy isnt bad, but it doesnt distinguish itself from other 2-D
brawlers. The backgrounds are simple and rather blah to look at. Buffy
is a bit small on the screen, but you can tell she is wearing clothing
from the TV show. The enemies all look pretty much the same. Something
made doubly annoying due to the repetitive nature of the combat is the
fact that there is only one punch and one kick animation. Look out
demons; Buffy is four frames of fighting fury! The photos of Buffy and
her friends that pop up between levels are pretty cool, but it isnt
enough to make you forget about the plain Jane graphics everywhere else.
Overall, the graphics are OK, but nothing to write home about.
The sound if Wrath of the Darkhul King is similarly average. The
sounds of Buffys punches and kicks are pretty standard and the demons
dont make much noise. The music in the game is surprisingly good,
though. It suits the theme of the game quite nicely and gives off a
definite gothic vibe.
Ever wonder why the GBA (and SNES and Genesis before it) has so many
games that look and play exactly the same? It is because it is much
easier, particularly when dealing with licensed games, to take a simple
beat em up and slap some new character sprites in it and call it a new
game. Because it has a popular license attached to it, it is going to
sell pretty much no matter what. Wrath of the Darkhul King is a perfect
example of this philosophy.
Overall, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King is a
below average platformer/beat em up that is indistinguishable from 90%
of the GBA games already out there. What makes it even worse is the fact
that other than the box art and photos of Buffy and friends, there is
nothing that really links this game to the TV show. The whole draw of
this game is the license and it doesnt even make good use of it. If you
are a die-hard Buffy fan, you might be able to force yourself to like
it. For everyone else the frustrating gameplay and the "been there, done
that" feel of the whole experience is bad enough that it is probably
best to skip this one.