Give me a
side-scrolling, platform-jumping, kill all enemies game for the GBA, and chances are
Ill give you a sad puppy dog look. Weve seen so many truly horrible
side-scrollers come out for Game Boy systems that its almost soured me on the
experience as a whole. Even the greats are horribly flawed I have yet to finish
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon for GBA because its just way too dark. Earthworm Jim
and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure were beautiful to look at, but featured those horrible
password saves. Rayman for the GBA was good, but it was just another Rayman. I know
Im in the minority, but Im getting bored with the same old same old. And if we
go back to the tripe that was released for Game Boy Color, then were just going to
dig up traumatic memories of repetitive muscle strain and intense boredom. Its
harder than it looks to make a good side-scrolling, platform-jumping, action-adventure
Heres where TDK Mediactive comes in. Before I even mention
Lady Sia, which is what this review is all about, Id like to note that TDK is new to
the gaming marketplace, and theyre definitely one of the publishers to keep an eye
on. Their biggest hit this year might be the Shrek title theyre developing for Xbox,
or it could be Pryzm:
The Dark Unicorn. Regardless of what succeeds or doesnt, TDK Mediactive has
taken a unique approach to developing games. On the one hand, you could call these titles
"girl games", some folks will and have. But these are really "people"
games they focus on story and problem solving, and they are unique. Lady Sia is a
perfect example of how TDK Mediactive can make a game that appeals to girls without
excluding boys and doesnt rely on a pink box to get the job done.
Lady Sia is the defender of the world, of course. Thats
nothing new. She must fight to save her land and people from the evil TSoa, beastmen
who have invaded and taken over. To do so, Lady Sia travels to four worlds, exploring 36
levels, and making use of a whole arsenal of abilities. She is not the standard
large-breasted, scantily-clad superheroine-cum-drag queen that were used to seeing
in videogames. She is tough, driven, and part Sasquatch. What more do you want?
Gameplay seems fairly standard at first. You progress through
levels by jumping, climbing, hitting switches, and riding pulleys. The first level is a
tutorial, which does a great job getting you situated to play Lady Sia. Levels are
well-designed and colorful. The graphics are very nice throughout bright colors
make the game easy to play, and the style is similar to American cartoons. That aesthetic
choice is emblematic of the games resistance of the typical conventional
wisdom would dictate that your fantasy adventure game should have anime styled visuals.
Throughout, there are nice little visual embellishments, such as spinning windmills, the
way Lady Sia wobbles at the edge of a platform or pulls herself up with her sword, and
various other animated touches that make the levels come to life.
you have the basic attack and jump buttons at your disposal. You can also throw switches
and shoot a wimply magic attack. By the end of the game you will be casting spells,
shooting huge energy balls, using attack combos, sneaking around, and even turning into a
Sasquatch. If it gets any better, somebody please tell me how. Enemies are not easy, and
you are often confronted with several at a time. Rather than the hack-and-slash, charge
through the opposition, method of play, a more strategic approach yields much better
results. In addition to just walking and jumping around, Lady Sia also rides a bird, and
the combination of flying and walking helps to further diversify gameplay.
The game is pretty linear you move from one level to
another, one world to the next. To keep things interesting, Lady Sias skills are
distributed throughout the game. The new skills allow you to conquer increasingly
difficult levels and force you to be aware of your strategy throughout. The storyline is
good, although nothing revolutionary, unless you count the fact that the protagonist is
female. But that doesnt come up too much Lady Sia is, basically, another
knight in shining armor (albeit with a skirt). Some reviewers have complained about the
fact that Lady Sia moves towards opponents as she fights them, which can sometimes cause
her to fall off a narrow ledge or become more entangled in the melee, both with negative
results. I dont see how this is so much different from the fact that Mario skids to
a stop, resulting in the same things. Its a quirk, but not necessarily a bad one,
and one that can be worked around.
What makes Lady Sia stand out is not so much the "girl power" aspect
of the game. Thats great, but not revolutionary. Girls and women are already playing
videogames, and theyre playing the same games as the boys. Lady Sia perhaps will
appeal more to a female audience, but no less to a male audience, who have embraced
characters like Lara Croft and Samus wholeheartedly. What makes Lady Sia unique is how
much fun the game is to play. The distribution of her combat skills across the levels, as
well as the variety in her strategic options, gives this platformer more longevity than
the average. The storyline, while not totally original or inspiring, is thoughtful and
cohesive, which gives the player a sense of duty and obligation (gotta save those worlds).
Overall, Lady Sia is a game that any fan of sidescrollers or action-adventure
titles should check out. It may hold special appeal for younger audiences or female
audiences, but this 26 year old man still had a blast with it. Appealing visuals, a good
story, excellent combat system, and lots of play time make Lady Sia a title you dont
want to miss.