Let’s talk about a game called Amazing Island, which I first heard about in Nintendo Power. Coming out in 2004, publishers Sega told us in the article that this game would let you design your own monsters which you would then have to play as to save an island from an evil force. Nintendo Power also showed examples of what kind of creatures you would create, emphasizing the creativity of the game. And then… nothing. Honestly, after reading that article, I have never heard this game mentioned by anyone else. This confuses me, since the idea of creating your own monster sold me. Is this game really underrated, or are people not talking about it because there’s nothing to talk about. Let’s look at Amazing Island for the Nintendo Gamecube and find out.
The game starts off after the protagonist, Andy, discovers a book called “Amazing Island”. It tells him the tale of the Maboo and how they used to live in peace with monsters. That was, until one day, a Black Evil appears and “curses” the Maboo tribe, until there are hardly any left (where the peaceful monsters are at this point, I don’t know). Andy then goes to bed and hears someone calling for help in his dream, before seeing a mysterious island. He wakes up from his dream to find out that the story was true several centuries back, and he has been asked to be the new savior of the island.
The plot tries for something along the fantasy styling of The Neverending Story or even Little Nemo, in the sense of a kid discovering a new, fantastic world. The problem is, this type of tale needs dedication that this game does not have. None of the characters seem to have any emotion when it comes to what is happening around them, and quite frankly, neither do I.
The monster creation system itself works pretty well, mostly since it’s a process. First, you chose a frame. Then, you draw a 2-D drawing of what you want the parts of the body to look like, inflating each part to a desired width. After that, you chose skin color and texture, eyes and a voice, topping it all off with any other accessories you desire. As you play, you’ll unlock more of each option so don’t think your options are anywhere near limited.
After you’ve created your monster, you take it to play some mini-games. These range from “pretty fun”, like this basketball one I enjoy, to “frustratingly annoying”; ones where you need to run around, shoot creatures and get points, all within a time limit with unfavorable controls. This wouldn’t be so bad if I knew how to edit a creature in favor of certain games, but you can’t since you don’t know its stats until it’s done. Of course, this is assuming that the stats have an effect, which if they do, the game fails to make the player feel it: running with a creature of a speed in the 800s feels similar to running with a creature with a speed in the 1300s and practice seems to be the main factor in how well I did.
However, if you happen to have the Nintendo GameCube - Game Boy Advance Link Cable (something I’m not sure if I talked about before), you could hook up your GBA to Amazing Island and play Monster Cards. To me, this was the real reason to get this game. Think of it as a simplified version of most trading card games, where your creature has certain stats and abilities it must use to reduce the enemy’s life down to zero. It’s all based on a mana point system, which you either gain or lose depending on your attack. It’s actually pretty fun and I’ve enjoyed playing it a lot.
Amazing Island is what I call the “potential game”. It has the POTENTIAL to be something great: each element of it has the potential to be the main aspect of a great game. However, all together, it just doesn’t work: the creature creation doesn’t feel like it’s affecting the mini-games enough and the battle card game seems to out of place. Parts of the game feel stiff, it fails to make any kind of connection with the player and some of the control choices are just wrong. However, I will admit that I did have fun with the creature creation, some of the mini-games and the battle card system individually. It also looks pretty good for a game where you make the player character in full 3D. If you really want to play this, I suggest trying to find it cheap. I give Amazing Island for the Nintendo GameCube 6 Levels out of 10.