Game Over Online ~ Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King

GameOver Game Reviews - Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King (c) THQ, Reviewed by - Lawrence Wong

Game & Publisher Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King (c) THQ
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 52%
Date Published Thursday, October 16th, 2003 at 04:24 PM

Divider Left By: Lawrence Wong Divider Right

Wrath of the Darkhul King is a game based on the Buffy the Vampire franchise; the television show spawned from a movie spawned from every adolescent guy and girl's dream (different reasons for each gender of course). As a game, however, it should only be recommended to the most diehard Buffy fans, and even then, I find it hard to recommend because the only connection between this and the show is Sarah Michelle Gellar's girl next-door visage on the storyboards connecting one mission to another.

The writing, which consists entirely of subtitles written underneath the portraits, is less than stellar. It lacks the cleverness and the attention to detail that all Buffy fans have come to expect from the show. That's a pity, considering that trait formally associated with the show is now lost forever. The only way it could have lived on would be through the plots of the various spin-off games that come from the demise of the show. Like the recently discontinued Dark Angel, this Game Boy Advance game is nothing more than a beat-em-up action game with a blond protagonist. (It would work perfectly if Jessica Alba was also blond).

One of the things the developers managed to add is a series of platforms for Buffy to jump on. I actually don't recall her doing too much of that on the show - mostly sneaking around and investigating behind the scenes - but apparently the developers have other ideas about Buffy, so she jumps around, shimmies across ropes and climbs up and down poles exploring. It's too bad the blond rendered in the game isn't too attractive. A more true to life version of Buffy on the Game Boy Advance screen would've made me stuck around more.

Of course, being a Buffy game, there is combat. In fact, the minions around Sunnydale are many, but they can be beaten up handily in various ways with slayer weapons (stakes), with violent arms (flamethrower) or without either. While the weapons aren't implemented badly, it's the execution of them that hurts the game most. This becomes most evident in the hand-to-hand combat. Punches and kicks can suddenly become unresponsive. I thought I was doing a misfiring combo but there aren't any sophisticated combos in the game. Buffy simply goes through a sudden blond moment. In keeping with the slayer methodology, the need to insert a stake to finish an enemy off is important, but Buffy appears to have lost her eyeglasses because she can easily miss the heart - by a pixel or two on the screen.

The adventure portion of the game is tainted by this too. The do-loops that Buffy's blondness gets her into can lead her to miss platforms and jump to her own peril. Not exactly a good thing if you're the one who's not vampiric and immortal.

Now, most people can rally to the defense of this game using the excuse of, there usually aren't ever any good ports from television to games, but a pretty decent console version of Buffy actually came out for the consoles. I played it on the Xbox and though it was shallow and it wasn't the most earth shattering game, I enjoyed all the battles between the slayer and the vampires, even if the story seemed more like a fan script than a Buffy script.

But I digress. I can't really claim to know Buffy as I'm not actually a big fan, so I'm not sure how real Buffy fans will treat the Darkhul King. I found it to be too tepid, the action too benign and the adventure too unforgettable to be one worth taking on. If you really want to rekindle Buffy ex post facto the end of the show, you might want to try the games on the bigger consoles to get your fix. Otherwise, you might as well stick to the tapes, as the only thing this game's slayer has in common with the show is the blond hair. Without the hair, this would be no more than a mediocre platform game.


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