Back on a pilgrimage to the UK many years ago, yours truly came across an interesting scenario: a crowd on the street had formed around a gentleman and his wares - well, ware. Next to a portable stereo lay a handful of brightly coloured inanimate cardboard cut-outs of well known Disney mascots, their arms and legs attatched to the body by string. "Using the latest technology out of the Land of the Rising Sun... prepare to be amazed!" He cranked the stereo and behold! The cut-outs stood up and started dancing in time with the music, their arms and legs flailing about in a ragdoll sort of way. Laughter! Applause! The show ended abruptly and out came the hand; this was a traveling salesman in every sense of the term.
Whether it was the cold London air or the pints that snuck their way into the system earlier at lunchtime, caution was thrown into the wind. 25 pounds (around 55-60 dollars) was handed over and I departed, warmed by the knowledge that I now had the greatest toy in the world, snuggled in my hands.
Later, back at the hotel, out came the brilliant find. Chip and Dale, my two favourite Disney characters slide out of the box. Cute Disney mascots - check. Fishing line - ...check? That was it. And then it hit: this was a simple yet elegant scam, designed to work on only the severely gullible or the severely inebriated (or both...). I spent $60 for something that would have cost $1.50 to produce. And what's worse, I couldn't get the kawaii rodents to move anything like I'd seen only hours before. I had been duped.
And this is exactly how you would have felt about Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis if you had been one of those unfortunate souls who handed money over and took this superhero home, hoping for some decent biff-filled entertainment. Cheated. Conned. Ripped-off. Had. For Aquaman is, without comparison, the worst game ever to be created for the GameCube.
Where to start? Easy, the beginning. Why the Hell cast Aquaman? We can thank the comic book renaissance of the late nineties for that. With a bunch of classic comic book characters being brought new life on the silver screen, the general public approved and accepted and went to see these films en masse. And sure, the attention was deserved. The Hulk, X-Men, Spiderman, etc. were all great films and Hell, even a few of the games were good (Spidey, I'm looking at you).
So game developers jumped on the "Superhero games will make you super-rich" bandwagon, and we started seeing a Hell of a lot more superhero games being forced out, much like the birth of my child, but a lot more painful and not as worth it in the end. These games were almost universally hated by 'hardcore' gamers looking for some decent action, but for the littlies, it was a delight. Spiderman's webslinging was cool, Hulk put road-ragers to shame, and Batman amused us all with his gadgets and fetish for leather. And Aquaman? Dear God, people. Aquaman is affront to all other superheroes, the kind that others shy away from and pretend they don't know when mixing in social circles. He may have been a founding member of the Justice League, but that's just about all he's got going for him. His special abilities? He talks to fish and swims fast. Simply put, he's a pussy.
And Battle for Atlantis focuses entirely on this guy, which is the first thing it gets wrong. But casting a vagina of a superhero and hacking on some tired story about saving his underwater paradise of Atlantis is not an instantly sackable offence, just so long as there's some decent gameplay to be had.
You knew where that sentence was going, didn't you? Yes, that's the second thing it gets wrong, and it is a most crucial mistake. The gameplay in this one is a real stinker. Gameplay consists of swimming around in a 3D environment, looking for enemies to fight. If you play this game for more than a day, you'll find that you spent most of the time just... swimming. Once you reach your destination, you're greeted with a group of three enemies who use some of the most snooze-worthy attacks I've ever seen in an action game (I feel dirty calling it that). Aquaman himself doesn't fare much better, so the main focus of the game - the fighting - is already handicapped by a sense of boredom which quickly sets in.
Add to this a bunch of technical flaws - like an epileptic camera that frequently goes haywire, preventing you from seeing what the Hell you're doing, and an enemy focus system that feels like it wants you to die - and you've got yourself a game that's not just boring, but frustrating too. Kudos, Lucky Chicken Games.
Breaking up the 17 levels of repetition are four levels of submarine action, where you try to shoot at things from the confines of an underwater spaceship. The shooting is as accurate as a shotgun with a sniper scope. At least there aren't any camera issues in these sections. Instead, you just have to try to stay awake.
Alright, let's go for the trifecta then: visuals. Dull, flat, and lifeless. We know the bottom of the sea can be a blast. They even sang about it in The Little Mermaid. But Battle for Atlantis fails to capture any sense of awe and wonder of the underwater realm. The draw distance is painfully short (there's plenty of murk too), textures are ugly and there's not a lot going on.
This game is so painfully bad it's not just poor workmanship, it's a sham. Someone approved its release, and just like my dodgy salesman on the streets of London, it was to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting people.
So don't fall for it. Even if you happen to like Aquaman, there's absolutely nothing redeeming about this game. If you own a copy, put it in a blender and flush it down the toilet. It will prevent anyone else from suffering from it, and put it where it belongs.