Those of you heading towards the big 3-0 will recall the days most of our toys came hand in hand with a cartoon. Just about every franchise worth its salt had its own TV show designed to push more and more toys into the hands of kids all over the world. Some of these franchises have seen a revival over the last few years, thanks to those kids who originally spent hours playing with their action figures now being old enough to create adventures that exist outside their imagination. We’ve had Transformers and Turtles recently and now it’s the turn of another big-hitter, GI Joe.
Now GI Joe (known as Action Force over here) was incredibly popular across the Atlantic, but was largely overlooked by UK kids in favour of toy lines like Transformers, Thunder Cats and He-Man (even Joe spin-off MASK was more popular). Whether this was down to the patriotic subtitle (A Real American Hero), the strange obsession with incredibly stupid acronyms or the equally absurd character names is unclear, but it never held our attentions in the same way as it did with our American friends. Anyway, if you do have fond memories of Duke, Scarlett and Snake Eyes and their battles against the evil COBRA, you may well be interested in the new film and this tie-in.
This game follows on from events in the new film, tracing the Joes as they try to rescue their comrade Heavy Duty and stop COBRA taking control of some weapons created by MARS. The plot, if you can call it that, isn’t engaging in the slightest and this is only made worse by the awful dialogue scenes you have to sit through. Remember the days when every film tie-in used stills of digitised actors to tell the story? Remember the quality of those stills? Well these are worse. It seems the story was an afterthought and these scenes were thrown together at the last minute. This could be forgiven somewhat if the game itself didn’t feel the same.
Instead of attempting to make a cut-down version of the home console game, EA have instead chosen to craft the DS game into a top-down shooter – a wise decision on the surface – and the end result is something that feels a little like Gauntlet or Alien Syndrome. Unfortunately it never feels like anything more than a poor, cheap clone. You’ll spend the entire time hammering A to take down the mindless enemies or blowing shit up, it’s probably a blessing that the game won’t take longer than a couple of hours to get through the six missions otherwise you’d be in danger of developing RSI. The only saving grace is the option to play as one of six Joes (cool ninja Snake Eyes was our personal favourite) but whether you would actually want to replay the dull missions with another character is another question.
Rise of Cobra on the DS is just as bland and forgettable as the film it’s based on and is unlikely to attract anyone except either hardened fans. Like Turtles and Transformers before it, GI Joe’s memory has been tarnished by an awful video game tie-in.