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Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World are reminiscent of games like Zelda. The sprite based, top down graphics are clear and smooth and make a nice reprieve from the jagged polys that are rampant in the latest games. The only problem is redundancy as the game takes place solely on Skull Island, and you are either walking around the swampy jungle or are navigating through stark-grey caves and ruins. Also, the other part of the game, where you play as Kong in side-scroller fashion, looks a bit more rough around the edges. Despite this, it is nice to see a game using the graphical techniques that made the 16-bit era so memorable.

The sound is equally well done. The effects are strong and the music suits the scenery. Yet once again, like the graphics, the quality drops slightly when you take control of Kong. This part of the game seems very limited, as Kongís incessant ape-screams fill your speakers as you trounce the adversarial dinosaurs.


Gameplay:

Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World is divided into two parts, though one is far more prominent and plays significantly better than the other. For the majority of the game, you will be controlling up to three people simultaneously: Ann Darrow, Jack Driscoll, and Carl Denham, the three main characters of the story. Your adventure takes place on Skull Island where Carl is trying to put together the movie of a lifetime, with Ann as the star. But if you know anything about King Kong, youíll realize that these ambitions do not turn out quite the way the participants expect.

Occasionally during the game, the characters will run into Kong as he battles the dinosaurs on the island, and at this point, you take control of him. This section of the game is very rudimentary as your only goal is to beat the crap out of the dinosaurs coming at you with nothing but your big, simian hands.

The first part of the game is where the meat of the action takes place. Here, in top down fashion, you take control of one of three characters at a time, switching between each as necessary. Each person has three different abilities that must be utilized in order to navigate the island successfully.

There are also various puzzles around the island that remind one of the consoles of old. Levers, traps, and movable boulders populate the island, and you must occasionally use the charactersí skills in conjunction with one another in order to solve the riddles. There does seem to be an overabundance of one type of puzzle (mainly using one character to move a maze of blocks), but there is a nice enough variety of them to where it never gets too old.


Difficulty:

Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World is a game that is playable by gamers of any caliber. The difficulty ramps up smoothly, gradually introducing you to newer and more challenging tasks. The controls are simple, yet offer a lot of variety in the ways you can employ them. Although when you play as Kong, the game usually bogs down into a mess of button mashing, the rest is quite easy to pick up and offers a well laid out interface.

Game Mechanics:

Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World plays like a lot of old 16-bit RPGs. In it, you take control of one person but lead the rest in a line behind you. You can also switch between characters or detach yourself from the group and go explore, fight an enemy, or solve a puzzle without having the other two characters interfere. The only problem with the control here (and itís more of a personal complaint than a real problem) is that although you can move diagonally, you cannot shoot diagonally. This doesnít stop you from killing your enemies, but it does make it a bit more difficult.

As you explore the island with your gang of fortune seekers, you will invariably come across different items. These items can be combined in your inventory to create various tools that the three characters can use. While at first it seems like an interesting gimmick, there are only a few different combinations and it quickly turns into a hunt for items rather than a combination experiment.

The part of the game where you control Kong is very simple; you move left and right and fight or dodge any dinosaur that comes onto the screen. Youíve got a basic punch and a powerful downward smashing attack at your fingertips, but this part of the game usually degrades into senseless button mashing. Thankfully, these encounters with Kong are few and far between.

Despite its shortcomings, Kong is what a game based on a movie should be. The developers have used a game design that works and fitted what they could of the movie into it. The result is a good game that makes me want to see the movie, as opposed to a crappy game that makes me never want to hear about the movie again, despite whether itís good or bad. Kudos to the developers on this one.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated