Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hanheld Adventure part 7: Juka and the Monophonic Menace for the GBA

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The Gameboy Advance, in my opinion, had a pretty good run. It had its share of good and bad games, but there were a lot of good ones like the ports of the Final Fantasy and Super Mario series. It did have its own share of original titles, but from what I saw, they were mostly ports or remakes of games that were on older consoles. I decided to try an original GBA game that was made here in America that got somewhat positive reviews back in 2006. This game is called Juka and the Monophonic Menace. Now, if it doesn’t have Mario, Metroid or Zelda on the title, it usually means one of two things. The first thing is that it could be good. The other thing is that it could be bad. Let’s dive right into this game and see what we can find.

The main story of this game centers on this young boy name Juka, who is an alchemist in training and no, he isn’t anything like Fullmetal Alchemist or the wonderful book, The Alchemist. He returns after a mission-in-training to head to town to get some supplies for his frog-like sidekick. Sadly, he finds out something is wrong and people are disappearing and soldiers are appearing everywhere. He then goes off on a journey to save his land from someone who looks like Lex Luthor from Justice League. It’s an okay story, but it won’t set your socks on fire. If you want a good story, just play Heavy Rain or Darksiders.

The game play is rather odd, in my opinion. It’s an adventure game like Zelda or the first SNES Mystical Ninja game, but it also has stealth elements. It’s seen from a bird’s eye view, like Legend of the Mystical Ninja or Legend of Zelda, and you go through the levels using potions to take out organic enemies like soldiers and weird Dr Seuss rejects. Your other main weapon is a sound staff that absorbs colorful shapes that you can shoot back at the mechanical enemies. For most of the beginning potions, you mix different elements like yellow, green and blue elements that you learn from people, and ‘ruin stone’ things. It’s a weird world, let’s just put it that way. This does mean though that you have no other form of attack besides potions and returning fire. This kind of gives the game a certain difficulty. It isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy. There are some other elements, like climbing on vines and such, but it isn’t that important to talk about.

The graphics are surprisingly colorful and well done. While nothing special, they get the job done. I also like the design for some of the characters and creatures. It definitely reminds me of something from Dr Seuss and his weirdly entertaining books. The music isn’t half bad either. It’s very well done, going from calming and peaceful to somewhat threatening when you encounter mechanical enemies. Overall, the presentation is really well done. I mean, I know Orbital Media’s other game Scurge: Hive is, from what I have heard, another great game, but I will have to save that game for another review.

Now, I am going to mix the chemicals to find the bad parts of the game. I HATE how slow Juka is. Couldn’t they put in a run button on the L button? I mean, the other enemies mostly have shots that can home in on your position and you can’t move fast enough. I know you get musical instruments to make elements appear, but for the beginning of the game you have to keep shaking plants to get the elements. It gets annoying and tedious after an hour or so of just shaking plants for elements. The pace of this game feels somewhat sluggish, since you can’t move any faster than a snail on top of a crawling catfish. Another thing I have a beef with is the design of the main character of the game. He looks like one of those two-flavored Popsicles had a baby with Waldo. Plus, he looks nothing like he does in the cover art on the box. It’s more cartoonish in game. The worst part though is that after you play through the game for a bit, you kind of don’t want to pick it up again. It’s kind of sad. It’s like Dark Void in a way. I know I keep bashing Dark Void, but it was rather disappointing, kind of like this game. I know this game has gotten some popular reviews, but I don’t like it personally.

Overall, Juka is not a fully enjoyable ride to go on, but it is worth checking out for only a day or so. It’s disappointing to see the GBA have remakes or ports on the system with only a few special exclusives like the Castlevania Double Pack, Metroid Fusion, and the Goldensun RPG games. I don’t mean to offend anyone who does like this game, but I just don’t like it. I would rather play Advance Guardian Heroes again than play this game, and playing Advance Guardian Heroes was hard enough to play through. Don’t forget to leave comments of my reviews or send me an email of a game you want me to review.

This game gets a 6.9 out of 10

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