Can we just talk about Jackie Chan Adventures for a bit? I talked about Jackie Chan at the start of Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, and while my enjoyment of his work was exaggerated there, Jackie Chan Adventures still remains one of my favorite cartoons. I know almost no one who’s seen this show that didn’t like it. It had everything you could want from a Saturday morning Cartoon: action, adventure, comedy, magical elements, a little girl who grew up in Hong Kong but has less of an accent than the her uncle who grew up in America… Ok, that’s a personal gripe I’ve always had, but the point still stands that the show was fun. Of course, at the height of its popularity, there was a video game based on it… kinda, I’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s start our look at Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand for the Game Boy Advance.
One of the reasons I’m reviewing this game now is because it’s July and time for Adamant Ditto’s Beat ‘em up month. *Possible clip of “BEAT EM UP MONTH!”*You play as Jackie as you go through different areas and beat up members of the Dark Hand and find legendary Kung Fu scrolls. The scrolls aren’t just a McGuffin either, as beyond being able to punch and kick, these scrolls will allow you to use more attacks as the game progresses. To me, it makes sense that a Jackie Chan based brawler would have that extra focus on different moves. As well, it also makes for Jackie Chan to use what’s lying around as weapons, and while it’s not as varied as the Kung Fu legend is known for, nor as iconic and satisfying as something like the lead pipe in Final Fight, there is something to be said about whacking your enemies with an umbrella.
Despite all these efforts to make the game play match with Jackie Chan, there is one very important aspect where they didn’t match it: speed. Sure, the animations in this game are really fluid and make the action clear and visible, but it feels slower than it should be for both beat ‘em up and Jackie Chan levels. It doesn’t even make the button response better (as a matter of fact, since you need to wait for certain things, it might make it worse). To be fair though, your speed while walking is pretty fast, unlike most Beat ‘em ups.
As much as this affects the game play, I can look passed it. What really bothers me though is that Jackie Chan Adventures was famous for magical items, the talismans, bur hey are barely mentioned and never used in this game. Perhaps it would have too heavily affected the beat ‘em up style to have Jackie moving at lightning speed or be invisible, but I would have liked to have known they tried. They show up in the PS2 game though, but it’s still a big missed opportunity here.
The graphics in this game aren’t really good, but they aren’t too bad either. You’d expect, since this is based on a show, they would attempt to make the in-game graphics look just like the show. While this is true for the cut scenes, during the game play it actually looks like they were trying for a faux 3D look. There is a lot more detail than you’d expect and it seems like the developers Torus Games and publishers Activision (hey, that’s too Activision games in a row I review!) wanted this to look more realistic than the show. Like I said, it’s not bad, it’s just really weird.
The music is pretty stock, if that’s possible. From the standard “oriental” vibe from the intro music, to the level music that’s obviously simply made and doesn’t really get you pumping, it’s obvious music just wasn’t a priority with this game.
Jackie Chan Adventure’s is a significant disappointment from the TV show, but does that make it a bad game? No, though I do have to take off points for that (if you’re making a game based on something, actually base it on that). It is still playable and beatable as a game (save for some frustrating bosses). I wouldn’t recommend this if you want to get your Beat ‘em up fix for this month since it just doesn’t have the same satisfying impact most other games in the genre would have, but you can easily find worse games in general. Not really more to say to that: it’s no Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, but it gets the job done if you can find it cheap enough. I give Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand on the GBA 6.5 levels out of 10.