Vivendi Universal has scored exclusive access to the recently released summer blockbuster film, The Hulk. For the PC, you have The Hulk. For the Xbox, you have The Hulk. For the PS2, you have The Hulk. GC – The Hulk. GBA - The Incredible Hulk? Yes, Nintendo's handheld gets a game that's not based on Ang Lee's poetic action film. This isn't the first time a Vivendi Universal title has deviated from the movie release though. Recall that it previously won the book license to The Lord of the Rings. The result was a rich and true-to-book translation of the novel on the Game Boy Advance. Unfortunately, this time around, what was included in the movie would have made this a much better game.
The Incredible Hulk agrees with the film on one thing. The protagonist, Dr. Bruce Banner, is a victim of radiation treatment, altering his DNA and turning him into the green near-invincible Hulk whenever he is in a fit of rage. For the course of the Game Boy Advance game, you better bet he is pissed off. His angst takes him through 33 enemy filled levels, with plenty of stationary objects that can be punched, destroyed and thrown across the screen.
To give the developers credit, the action can be quite gratifying. I guess even the most skeptical and cynical of critics will have their ten minutes of fun pummelling opponents without abandon. But this continues as the Hulk moves from one military installation to another.
Occasionally, there are boss battles put in but for the player that only means more button mashing. The bosses are lifted straight out of the comic book series. As a non-comic book fan, I only know this franchise through the television shows. But I have to make the comment that Hulk's opponents are about as unimaginative as the military he often finds himself coming up against (The Executioner?).
The levels themselves are vast. You're guided, however, by a constant arrow. Because this is an isometric game, you don't get the same sense as other platform titles where the ultimate goal is to move from the left to the right. This is something that happened to the Spider-Man conversion on the Game Boy Advance. The arrows work a little too well, though, and they don't promote much in terms of exploration, which is a pity. Many of the objectives don't encourage an adventure game-like element of discovery either. Kill things. Destroy things. It takes the adventure out of action-adventure gaming.
The Hulk is endowed with some special combos and powers. The dash, for example, is included, similar to other platform titles. They're very well animated on screen, so the aesthetic appeal will urge you to use them. Like the action, though, it gets overused. The rage meter fills when you punch enemies and even when you destroy dumb inert items, it generates rage. Do it for too long and it will generate repetition, begetting boredom.
The silver screen treatment of The Hulk was a very moral movie. It portrayed Banner as a tortured soul - almost Frankenstein in a sense that he couldn't do anything to avoid what he became. But yet, all that was happening around him, all the persecution and all the anger wasn't necessarily his fault. It was instigated because he was different. This builds a very conflicted character. Because the game is just all about action, it leaves all of this interesting character development behind.
It's a pity because The Incredible Hulk has some good fundamentals to build on. It definitely has more to do with the comic book series. And I find The Incredible Hulk more believable than simply 'The Hulk'. I can do away with amazing for Spider-Man but not incredible with The
Hulk. Yet The Incredible Hulk doesn't draw much from the comic book sources either.
Stuck in the void between both, The Incredible Hulk looks less and less incredible.