Jackie Chan. A martial arts legend. Star of Hong Kong cinema. Master stuntman. Not content with his worldwide best selling cartoon adventures, Jackie now forces his franchise onto the PlayStation2. The premise is as one might imagine- battle evil spirits, collect Talismans from around the globe and save humanity as we know it. We've only seen screen shots of the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoons, but the game graphics seem to tie in nicely with the theme of the series.
Jackie Chan Adventures is an action RPG of the simplest kind. The San Francisco map of the playing area doesn't do the scope of the game justice, as locations are as far away as China and the Moon. Yet despite the far-flung locations, some are merely a one-screen level, or tedious boss fight. The game is mix of short and long levels, but essentially a reworking of the action adventure genre. Think Early NES versions of Zelda: Link to the Past, merged with the more graphically advanced, Wind Walker on the Cube. The graphics are great- cell shaded, block colours, thick outlines- and reminiscent of 13 and Viewtiful Joe. In a reversal to many games, the in-game character graphics are top notch, while the cutscenes fail miserbaly at times- some really poor shadowing and disappearance of edges during the cutscenes.
There are several maze-style sections, (think of the dungeons in the Zelda series) but these seem to tail off as the levels progress. Instead, what remains are boring, two- move boss fights. Deeper into the game, you'll collect new attributes, such as Laser Eyes, Invisibility and Super Strength, but these really sap Jackie's energy levels when used. There is no jump, no crouch and no special punching moves or combo action to speak of. Thus, as gameplay progresses, it becomes more mundane, more simplistic and less of a challenge. It's infuriating to crack a new level, only to find a street with only two accessible buildings, in turn comprising of only two rooms. Likewise, as Jackie's special attributes develop a little, there is no change to the behaviour or make-up of the big bosses. There's some entertainment from the puzzle-styled subgames, but they're all together unoriginal. They fail to add value to a shallow game- with the exception of fishing. That's always fun, just don't ask us why.
At only 5 hours long, this is a good-looking game, but the simplicity of the combat sections and tailing off of levels will struggle to keep even younger gamers interested. While Jackie Chan Adventures does a good job of transferring the look of the cartoon to a console platform, the end product is too simplistic, even for kids. We're left with the feeling of having been scooped up by the Chan franchise's marketing machine. It's a shame really, from a man who prides himself as being hands-on. If you, or your sprogs are a fan, you can pick up a nice combo deal with the cartoons from Amazon. This may just tip the balance and make the game a viable purchase. As for the game on its own, just rent it.