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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by THQ

32061_s01.jpg (7680 bytes)The introduction of the five inch action figure has deprived generations of little boys the opportunity of playing dress up with their dolls. I blame George Lucas [Again! –ed]. His Star Wars figures revolutionized the toy biz and, in one fell swoop, made dolls something for girls. I got in just under the wire. Although most of my childhood playtime was spent with the 5" G.I. Joe figures, I did have a big guy with scuba gear and army fatigues. I honestly think that I’m a more well adjusted person for the whole experience. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the bigger toys coming back into vogue. On the forefront of the retro toy revolution is Action Man.

32061_s02.jpg (9122 bytes)You may be wondering what my musings on mini-fashions have to do with the game. Well, it turns out that fashion is just as important to Action Man as it is to Mary-Kate and Ashley. Before you start any level you must decide which outfit would be best suited to your adventure. You have scuba gear (ya gotta love scuba gear), jungle fatigues, a snowsuit, and eventually a space suit. You can accessorize your adventure attire by choosing from a healthy selection of weapons—unfortunately your choice of outfit has no effect on the gameplay. It would have been great to see Action Man shiver in the arctic in his fatigues.

32061_s03.jpg (8628 bytes)Not only does he look good, but he can kick some serious butt. The game has a simple run/jump/fire set up that works quite nicely. The levels are varied enough that you don’t feel like your playing the same level again and again, unless, of course, you are playing the same level. Each area has multiple missions to accomplish which gets a lot of mileage out of each level without seeming too repetitive. The graphics are more than serviceable with a few nice surprises along the way. It really feels like some time was put into the design of this game.

Action Man has a fair number of weapons and gadgets to choose from (all non-lethal). You get to pick two to use for a particular level. Your inventory will increase as you progress through the game.

32061_s05.jpg (9725 bytes)Action Man is James Bond without the babes or the license to kill. He technically doesn’t carry a gun and he won’t hurt anything organic. I got a kick out of the manual. Action Man is so environmentally friendly that he doesn’t even hurt the insects that he shoots. In fact, by shooting them, he actually frees them from the shackles of a mind control device. It still looks like you’re killing the poor suckers though.

I have to admit that I prefer a faster paced side scrolling shooter. I measure every game like this against the perfection that was Contra. Usually, most games come up far short, but Action Man managed to deliver a lot of the things that I look for in this kind of game. Happily, it’s not a game that you’ll finish in one sitting. It takes a little time to learn the layouts of the level and figure out which weapons would be best for the job. Generic archetype or incredibly self-aware cartoon—I still haven’t decided what the character of Action Man is. But as a game, Action Man: Search For Base X is a solid piece of handheld fun anyway you look at it, and you get to fight evil in style.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Nice platform action; lots of outfits; policy of non-violence.

Downs: Can be a bit confusing, and some replay of levels is required.

System Reqs:
Game Boy Color

 

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