Jackie Chan Stuntmaster
You'd think a game that's been in development for so long would have all its kinks ironed out by now. Not so with the oft-delayed Jackie Chan Stuntmaster. The premise here is promising enough (and really this is the only way a Jackie Chan game should be made): As the Chan man, you toss around bad guys--as many as three at a time--in level after level of Double Dragon-inspired gameplay. But while the simple fighting controls let you unleash varied combos with ease, Chan's motion-captured animation has a nasty habit of slip-sliding you in all the wrong directions. Throw a punch and Chan slips forward. Kick-jump off a nearby wall and Chan slides when he lands. It makes for hundreds of frustrating moments in the second half of the game, when the levels start emphasizing platform leaping over chop socky. Chan's sloppy control dropped me into too many sudden-death chasms. And here's the worst part: It takes nearly 30 seconds for the game to reload after you die. Just imagine how annoying Final Fight would have been if you had to twiddle your thumbs for half a minute every time your character croaked. Ugh. Still, you do get a lot of levels (the best have you battling atop subway trains). I just wish the game stuck more to fighting and obstacle dodging than all that ledge-to-ledge leaping.
This beat-'em-up isn't all that bad. It's very old-school in nature, and if you can get over a few hurdles, you might enjoy it. The action is repetitive (but so are most Final Fight-style games), the movement is a little sluggish, and the side-scrolling gameplay can be extremely frustrating when you miss your umpteenth jump (because you'll have to wait a day for the level to reload). Stuntmaster would've been more enjoyable as a two-player co-op game.
Why in the heck does this game have to load every time you die? A 30-second load time after every death is completely unacceptable. That aside, the game itself is very enjoyable. It plays totally like a 3D Double Dragon (you know, city streets, lots of kicking) mixed with a Jackie Chan movie (with lots of crazy moves, and weapons like flower pots and dead fish). No, it's not the most complicated game around, but its straightforward action is quite fun.
Stuntmaster doesn't take itself too seriously. Its car-toony look and lighthearted approach serve it well but probably won't appeal to older gamers. The simplistic platform format and easy-to-master game-play make it perfect for 10- to 12-year-olds. The violence is pretty tame so parents shouldn't be too concerned. The fact that Jackie can use a fish as a weapon tells you it's goofy stuff. You could rent this for a night and probably get your fill.