Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Phantom 2040

Phantom 2040 is a side-scrolling action adventure game based on the animated television series of the same name. It was released for the Game Gear back in 1995, and features an original storyline that is different from the one taken by the show.

Right off the bat, I'm going to admit that I didn't get past the first stage of Phantom 2040, so if you're just looking for a good game to play for the game gear, you should skip this review and just browse the other ones from Portable Platypus. But if you're curious as to what turned me off from playing, read on.

Basically, Phantom 2040 is one of the few "MetroidVanias" from the Game Gear's limited library. You control the 24th Phantom, who must go from point A of a level to point B, while fighting enemies and avoiding traps along the way. Like Metroid/Castlevania, there is an emphasis on exploration. Some areas of a level may be inaccessible until you find a switch/item or get
The 24th Phantom has a lot of moves at his disposable. He can roll, jump, punch, climb ledges, and if you have bullets, shoot projectiles. None of the moves are filler, as you will find the need to use each one to complete a level. Controlling the Phantom himself is a bit sluggish, but not laggy enough to break the game. The responsiveness of the controls will remind you more of the original Prince of Persia than Metroid. It's workable once you get the timing right.

As for the graphics, it's one of the major things that turned me off. Granted, it's a handheld game on a first generation portable, so I'm not going to expect much in the graphics department. Unfortunately, Phantom 2040's graphics look sub par even if you judge it while considering the Game Gear's limitations. Games like Asterix and the Great Escape and Sonic The Hedgehog prove that the Game Gear can do graphics that will put the NES to shame. Phantom 2040 looks more like an early Atari 2600 game.

Aside from the crude, pixelated graphics, the color scheme used by Phantom 2040 could have used some improvement. It's understandable that they'd have to use purple for the Phantom sprite, since that's his exact color, but peppering the rest of the screen with greens, blues, and gray makes the game look dull and uninspired.

As for the gameplay, it's the other major thing that turned me off, and prevented me from mustering the patience needed to get past the 2nd stage. Like most action adventure games with exploration, Phantom 2040 requires a certain amount of trial and error, where you will fail in some actions at first due to your lack of familiarity with the stage. Sadly, the game discourages retries because enemies respawn as soon as you leave the screen. It's not uncommon to kill a monster, fail a running leap, and run into the same monster you just killed while trying to get another running start.
 
What makes the infinite enemy respawns even worse is the fact that the health bar is very short and you have a limited amount of ammo. The melee attacks are inefficient and can't be relied on since they do so little damage, and the collision detection is poor.

 
I got as far as the first stage's boss (I think it's the boss, the sprite is larger), died and that was it. Maybe it gets better on the 2nd stage or something, but I'm not going to bother. As I have said a few paragraphs before, I'm judging the game within the context of a portable gaming device, and frankly, I use portables for quick short bursts of fun. If a game has good parts, I expect the devs to put some of it in the beginning. I mean, the food that my gaming purchases puts on the game devs' tables doesn't need an hour of chewing before it starts to taste good.

 
Find Phantom 2040 on ebay

Cee's Blog

Released: 1995
Publisher: Viacom
Developer: Hearst Entertainment 

1 comments:

You guys should review some good GG games, something like Ristar, Sylvan Tale or Power Strike II.

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