Fantastic Four

Overview

Marvel Comics and Acclaim have teamed up to bring you a side-scrolling beat-em-up featuring the comic book heroes, the Fantastic Four. The evil Dr. Doom has been trying to construct a time machine so he can become the master of all worlds and eliminate the Fantastic Four in the process. It is up to you as one of the members of the Fantastic Four to stop this evil plan and save the day. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it? Don't get too excited yet.

Gameplay

Fantastic Four is an old school, side-scrolling, kick the crap out of anything and everything type game. Everyone has played a game like this. Double Dragon and Fighting Force are both perfect examples. The only difference is that your characters happen to be comic book superheroes.

Speaking of our heroes, here is the breakdown on your different characters. First, we have Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four. Next, we have The Thing. He is as big and strong as he is ugly. Third is the Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic's wife, and she has the ability to become invisible. Fourth, we have the Human Torch. He is The Invisible Woman's brother and has the ability to control the fire that covers his body. The fifth (?) member of the Fantastic Four is She-Hulk.

Now I have two questions about the characters. First, I'm not a comic book fan, so I'm not familiar with the characters. Who are they? Acclaim might be limiting their audience by having five main characters who might not be immediately recognizable to the game playing audience out there. Second, is if this group of characters is called Fantastic Four, why are there 5 characters? Did they just throw in one to try and make the game more enjoyable, or is the Fantastic Four actually 5 characters?

In terms of Fantastic Four's gameplay, the game starts out decent enough. You have your enemies attacking you from all different directions. It is up to you to punch, kick, or special-move them to death. Of course the level starts off easy enough. You fight these little munchkin-looking dudes that swarm around you and throw clubs at you. Beat this first wave of little guys, and you move on to face a giant ape. So far so good. After the ape, it is more little dudes. Then more apes. Then more little dudes. Then robot looking guys. More little dudes. More apes. And on and on and on. After playing for about 15 minutes, I just wanted to see a different type of enemy. This lack of variation plagued every level. The same enemy over and over. How hard is it to make up a few different varieties of enemies just to shake things up?

One of the other things that really bothered me about the game was the control. Everything seemed sluggish, like it was moving in slow motion. Not only did it seem slow, but the character animations were very clunky. In no way whatsoever did it actually look like your character was walking. The idea behind video games is to make you feel like you are actually a part of the action. With the terrible animations, there was never a chance of this.

I will say the game did have one cool feature. If you continued to use the same attacks to kill your opponents, a piece of cheese would flash on the screen signifying that you are "cheesing out" and need to vary your attacks. You do not get penalized in any way for cheesing out, but it was still a cool idea, especially when you are playing multi-player, because your buddies are sure to ride you for fighting like a wimp.

Graphics

Some of the graphics looked pretty good and other things looked awful. Some of the backgrounds and characters were well done. Other backgrounds and characters would make any 16 bit system blush with embarrassment. The character animations were very lame and so choppy and stiff that it would have almost been better to not even animate the movement at all. I will say I liked the look of the apes, but their breath was terrible.

Bottom Line

I really enjoy this type of game, so I was very disappointed that Fantastic Four was not done better. The long, monotonous levels will leave you screaming for some variety. I still don't understand why there are 5 characters and they are called the Fantastic Four, but this really does not matter when playing the game. Overall, you will tire quickly of the game, which is a shame.

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