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American Dragon - Jake Long, Rise of the Huntsclan Review - Game Boy Advance

"Dragon Up!" for a Smashing Good Time!

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By Kristy Conn

American Dragon - Jake Long, Rise of the Huntsclan Review - Game Boy Advance

Packshot © Buena Vista Games

A vibrant beat 'em up from Buena Vista Games, based on the hit Disney show by the same name.

The Good

  • Vibrant colorful graphics
  • Cool power-ups and lots of moves
  • Character levels up as you play
  • Hidden boss adds replay value

The Bad

  • Game play can be repetitious
  • Enemy AI is occasionally brain dead
  • Short game

Story

Based on the Disney animated series, Jake Long is the youngest descendent in an ancient lineage of shape shifting dragons. He must use his magical powers to do battle with the villainous Huntsclan, lead by the Huntsman, a mysterious figure who is the latest on a long line of Huntsmasters.

Follow Jake as he travels through various locales in and around NYC, trying to stop the Huntsman's latest evil plan - to resurrect all the dead Huntsmasters from the past!

Features

  • 6 levels with multiple stages plus an end stage boss.
  • Can upgrade Jake's abilities to become an even more effective fighting machine.
  • Get assistance from your companions Gramps, Fu-Dog, Trixie and Spud.

The Game

Screenshot © Buena Vista Games

A pretty straight forward beat-em-up, but has a lot of extras that keep it from getting dull. It follows the hit Disney Show American Dragon - Jake Long very closely down to the gangsta style way Jake talks, and the comedic stylings of that crazy pooch "Fu-dog". Jake is an Asian-American teen with typical teenage concerns, like a crush who won't give him the time of day and a teacher constantly giving detention. He also has some not-so-typical concerns - he can morph into a mythological dragon, and is the guardian of all good magical, mythic creatures.

As Jake you kick and punch your way through hordes of troll-like enemies and ninjas. Defeated enemies leave behind random power-ups which can replenish health; fill your focus meter so you can morph into the mighty dragon, or gain the ability to call upon your friends for assistance. Gramps will damage all the enemies on screen, Fu-Dog will throw focus crystals so you can "Dragon Up", while Trixie and Spud make it rain health-replenishing hamburgers. Jake can also ride his skateboard by holding down the R button, which he uses in one of his best moves, jumping into the air the skateboard and smacking enemies with it. Unfortunately the button combo (Hold R, jump then press down) can induce carpal tunnel syndrome if spammed too much due to the button layout on the GBA, so it's best to take frequent breaks or at least mix up your fighting style.

At first, Jake starts out fairly weak. It takes a long time for him to fill up his focus meter so he can "Dragon Up!", but at the end of each stage you are given the option to level up one of his abilities. For example, you can increase his speed, the power of his punches, decrease the amount of focus needed to "Dragon Up!" and increase the length of time he stays in dragon mode.

Tip: Since you will rarely be able to use your dragon form against bosses, it is best to power up Jake's regular fighting abilities before upgrading the dragon skills.

At the end of each level is a stage boss to defeat. The bosses for the most part are big and colorful, such as a cyclops, a medusa and a giant spider, which require some strategy to beat. Unfortunately, the regular enemies are a breeze to beat and, except for a huge swarm of them when you near the end of a level, are fairly easy to get by. Enemy A.I. is also severely lacking in some areas. Some of the enemies will just stand there and not do anything. Others will commit suicide by jumping off a platform to their doom.

This title will be easy for the average gamer, and takes about 1-2 hours to beat. However, finishing the last level allows you to save and restart from the first level with all the abilities you've earned from the first playthrough. By maxing out your abilities you can unlock a battle with the Huntsman himself! The second playthrough is a breeze and was actually more fun since you can stay in dragon mode longer. The end battle is fairly challenging and it took about 30 tries to defeat him. The ending left a lot to be desired as the bad guys get away. I thought beating the Huntsman would unlock a better ending, but all you get is an extra screenshot of Jake, Gramps and Fu-Dog. A better ending would have been a cool reward for defeating the hidden boss.

Final Thoughts

This game is a fun, but linear, beat-em-up with some cool extras. The RPG elements, power-ups and the dragon- make for some very fun gameplay. A short game, but has replay value and will appeal to fans of the show.

Patents Tips

E10+ Everyone 10 and older by the ESRB. Cartoon violence against mythological creatures and ninjas. No blood or gore.
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