What? You expected an immediate "Terra Nova" reaction? Well, sorry; there's something much, much more important on our plate right now.
I mentioned this game in the comments for the precursor of the wonderful wonderful Cinnamon BUNZUH! blog/project. I have no idea what the story is behind the game, where it fits in book continuity (not at all; check out Lion!Rachel), or why I happen to own a copy of it. All I know is that in the middle of the four-day power outage we suffered after Hurricane Irene, I was bored enough to play it, as I promised I would.
Here, then, is (I'm sure) the Internet's first and only attempt at a playthrough of the "Animorphs" Game Boy Color game. Yes, Game Boy Color. I'll be playing it on my trusty Game Boy Advance. I should warn you that I haven't the slightest clue how those neat, clear screenshots of GBA screens in handheld game-based Let's Plays are done.
So here's the first thing you see when you pop your game in. Note the barely-visible "continue" option. I will spare you, but I got to see it an awful lot.
This is as good as the graphics get in this game. If I had perused my very brief childhood fixation with needlepoint, I'd cross-stitch this and applique it to a pillow. (Nice hair, Marco.)
And heck yes, I am ready to become an Animorph! Man, it has been a while since we had a game where your player character was an animal-based shapeshifter, hasn't it? Will this be as complicated and kind of mind-blowing as "Evo: Search for Eden"?
No. No it will not.
The small blob in the upper-left is a mouse. The giant green towel is a "Note from Dad" telling us that animals have been acting strange lately. The blue thing is Ax and the bird is... well, more on him in a second.
That little yellow blob-thing is our player-character. We start the game as Cassie, and here is, all things considered, the weirdest observation I have about "Animorphs: the GBC Game": Name another game where your player character is a black woman. (The fact that the only other one I can think of is half of that crazy "Matrix" tie-in thing means that something is dreadfully wrong.)
Tobias J. Emohawk will be our Navi ("Hey, listen!!!") equivalent for this evening, flying and bossing us around. Having Cassie make him repeat what he says here ("Talk to everybody! Even though we are the only resistance against a secret invasion!") leads to this amusing screenshot:
I have a new Crack Pairing.
Although, come to mention it, my real Crack Pairing is Cassie/Ax... Oh, hey, an Original Song (hey, the last video game had a song, this one must have one too.)
CASSIE: "Four! Eyes! Hypnotizing!
Could you be our savior? Could you be a Centaur?
Your! Powers! Are tantalizing!
I don't understand them, but I wanna have them!
Share! Them! A-with me!
Cause I want to transform! Don't want to be the norm!
A! Cquire! DNA!
I don't get how that works.
"You're from a war out in space
with hideous brain-worms!
But since you're at my place
wanna make love with someone who shares the same fa-ace?
Visitor from the 'bove!
Let's redefine 'self-love!'
TRANS! FORM! INTO ME!
Let's destroy some barriers! Fly like Northern Harriers!
"You're an ALIEN!
You're so outa sight!
I'm an Animorph!
You're an Andalite!"
AX: "Got me horny like a Hork Bajar!
they go run around the trees eatin' BAH-A-A-ARK!
Got a tail blade could kill a T. rex!
Folks are like, 'yeah, that what she said.'
Shapeshfting squick is good, clean fun!
Tell me what's next? CINNAMON BUN!
They call me a Centaur
four-legged, horny, tough!
Maybe it's cause your boy
Axie's in-to weird stuff!"
(Chorus ad nauseum to end.)
Making sweet, boundary-defying love to Ax nets us our first password, and one of the game's stranger mechanics:
The game has no Save option. At all. None. Instead, whenever a major plot point happens (or not), it spits out a password for you to input after hitting the "Continue" option. Too damn bad if you don't understand what's going on here or forget to write the thing down.
I may have mentioned that I am an obsessive-compulsive Save-er.
So, about the mouse I mentioned earlier. Let's go near it and see what happens.
We are suddenly in an epic struggle between girl and mouse! Yes, here we have the game's strangest mechanic: to Acquire the form of an animal, we need to fight it while in the form of another animal.
Our first Morph, or "Starter" if you will, is a redonkulously overpowered dog.
Let's see what attacks we have:
You wonder why dogs are so popular, given all they do is kick things and scream all the damn time.
Anyway, kicking the crap out of the mouse allows us to transform into it. Just like it works in the books.
So we now have Mouse and Dog at our disposal. We can have six forms at a time, including our human form. Each form, in turn, has it's own health bar. Also, each animal has four -and only four- special moves.
This is the single most original game ever created for a Nintendo handheld system ever ever!
(Not even halfway through the review and I really hope everyone has their Sarcasm-detector on by now. Otherwise, I am in for some interesting comments.)
Let's head outside and see if we can't save more animals by beating them up and stealing all their DNA!
Ah, nature. Hey, is that indistinct blob in the upper-left a goat? I like charging into things; that could be useful! Let's see what moves it has...
Later on, although I did not get screenshots, we will learn that elephants can punch. I don't even want to know with what.
A word about the moves in this game. Some of them are evasion moves and some of them are attacks. You will not know which is which until you use them and they actually hit. That's the other thing: accuracy in this game is for sh*t. There's also no consistency with regards to which attacks (or creatures!) are more powerful than others, but we'll get to that soon enough.
Tobias tells us to get over to the pet store:
Here we get the useful Chimpanzee (with a tail?) form...
Oh wow. This game...
Aw, come on fishies! I just want your DNA!
The pet store also nets us the useful Generic Snake (Swim/Burrow/Climb/Venom yeah) form, which we'll use to sneak into the Zoo and...
Oh God dammit.
Even though the books went on to be more nuanced about them, here the Hork-Bajir are Goddamn Spiders. Any one of your attacks merely chips pixels off their health bar (except when and if it randomly doesn't), while they merrily stomp each of your forms without a care.
By the way, every time one of your animal forms loses all of it's hit points, you lose that form for good unless you can fight the animal and Acquire it again. Lose all of your forms and you lose the game, so you're essentially playing a forced Nuzlocke Run. With an impossibly wonky attack system and enemies who are ridiculously overpowered, right from the very beginning.
Thanks largely to the Hork-Bajir, we get to see this screen a lot:
We will skip over the part where I forgot to write down the last password (FUUUUUU-) and proceed directly to the Zoo/Gardens.
Tobias neglects to tell us exactly what we're up to here, but it could only involve acquiring as many species as possible, right?
Gettin' Cassie's trademark Wolf first. I will use Wolf to nab what is surely the best form early on in the game:
Now, unfortunately, walking within fifty feet of an animal starts a battle with it, even if you've already fought it. Wikkid, wikkid fun when you just barely survived the last fight. Also, it results in things like this happening:
There's lions in the zoo too! Now that's going to kick some ass. Surely, if I attempt to fight him, he won't kill each of my powerful pain-in-the-ass-to-acquire forms in a row while they make not a dent, leaving me with only my least-powerful form to fight with, which he will them smash easily, right?
This f***ing game.
("Continue", password, re-get every animal, see that a bat is available -a flying form!- attempt to acquire and...)
This. F***ing. GAME!
Yeah, I have no idea where to go. I leave the Gardens and wander around for a bit -- as Wolf!Cassie!
This mountain has a glitch that gets me stuck and unable to move.
Working my way free, I head upwards to... a plot point, surely! The Sharing is the creepy Yeerk brain-slug cult thing where visitors are merely instructed to walk around without a helmet. Maybe I'm supposed to enter this building and...
Yeah, uh, I'm going to quit here. Because there's probably three more levels of this B.S. and I'm done. Just one last thing before I go...
Batmanning like a pro! Until I get stuck beside this bush. *sigh*
Oh, what the hell.