Traditionally speaking, handheld games have been dumbed down versions of
full-fledged titles on other platforms. Ice Age proves to buck this
trend, as it was developed by A2M explicitly for the Game Boy Advance.
Unfortunately, unlike other titles on this platform, Ice Age doesn’t take
advantage of the additional power of the platform. Moreover, much of
the execution and gameplay could easily have been replicated many years
ago. The game is inherently reminiscent of old platform titles for the
NES or SNES. Incidentally, developers for the Game Boy Advance have
been porting a multitude of titles from their bygone franchises.
Unfortunately, Ice Age, designed from ground up for 2002, does not match
even the ports of these old classics.
Ice Age is a classic platform game back when the words platform and game,
together, meant something positive. It does, however, include the usage
of two characters. You oscillate between a mammoth (Manny) and a sloth
(Sid). They don't work in tandem like Sonic and Tails but neither can
you simply choose one character and go with him through the whole game,
like Super Mario Advance 2. The saber-tooth tiger (Diego) that you find
in the cinematic film is curiously missing, but the end result is
relatively the same. Both characters give you a different style of play
but like Sonic the Hedgehog, you're supposed to collect a certain amount
of items while getting through a myriad of obstacles. In Sonic, these
were the infamous rings. In Ice Age, it's the acorn that started the
whole movie off. Unlike the acorn sequence, none of the sheer thrills
of the film actually transfer into the game.
In fact, much of this is due to the visual presentation. I have yet to
watch the film but from what I have heard, I'd very much like to.
Unfortunately, this game didn't convince me to run out and see it, but
luckily the trailers of the movie salvaged its reputation in my mind.
Quite frankly, Ice Age's graphics are dated. The most redeeming feature
is that the visuals are smooth; which is another word for lack of
detail. Whether it takes advantage of the vistas shown in the movie is
up for questioning but I'm sure that the movie didn't involve aimless
retrieval of acorns or jumping around in nonsensical, artificially
constructed environs. It's not that the level designs are exceedingly
bad or frustrating; Ice Age is just too straightforward of a game.
Clearly, Ice Age, the movie, was aimed at children. I don't have to be
a market research analyst for Ubi Soft to realize that this game is also
aimed at the same audience. There are an infinite number of lives in
the game and the overall difficulty, for someone whose inability leads
to more than a dozen deaths on one particular jumping puzzle, is fairly
easy. In fact, you can cruise through the game within one sitting, plus
or minus a few hours for children depending on how adept they are at
this. With only ten levels and no compelling reason to replay the
title, I'm not quite sure how much longevity this would get, even with
There will be those who say that simple games should be appreciated for
what they are worth. Harry Potter for the Playstation was such a game
where the 'family' audience (who by the way, never comment on any other
games) were staunch defenders of lighthearted gameplay; gameplay that
wouldn't take up more than a few hours of your time. But I'd like to
point out the reason why there are games released as budget titles.
Suffice to say, if there were ever budget titles for the Game Boy
Advance, this title would be the perfect candidate. However, at the
price it is being advertised, it's hardly worthy of anyone's time even
if you suddenly became an Ice Age fan and must grab everything related
to the franchise. While this might be an exclusive for Game Boy
Advance, I think it's best for publishers to start developing for some
other platforms since movie tie-ins aren't becoming cheaper these days,
and titles like these certainly won't help them recuperate any amount of
fees, much less exorbitant ones.