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GameCube Preview Disc

Review By:  Joshua Fishburn

Developer:  Various
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Demo
ESRB:  E to M
Online:  No
Accessories:  GBA/GCN Link Cable
Date Posted:  9-26-03

My quest for this disc started after hearing Viewtiful Joe hyped up by the Internet message boarders and led me to Best Buy where, to my horror, the disc was priced at a whopping $40.  After a brief contemplation of purchase, I came to my senses and found it, pretty much everywhere else, for a not-as-whopping $10 (Stores are also giving it away with GameCube system purchases).  Was it worth it?  I would have paid the same for a crack at Viewtiful Joe and Soul Calibur 2, so the answer is an amplified yes!  The disc contains a fine collection of movie previews, as well as five playable GameCube demos and two playable GBA demos for those of you with the GBA-GCN link cable.  The masterstroke of this disc is that each and every playable game included is a proven or potential heavyweight, no crippled titles here.

First, the movies range from great to just plain lame and everything in between.  Here’s what you get:  Soul Calibur 2, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike, F-Zero, NCAA Football 2004, Madden NFL 2004, Viewtiful Joe, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and a PSA with Derek Jeter about the ESRB.  A few of these videos are suspiciously similar to the promo videos offered up at E3 (Star Wars and F-Zero come to mind), and oddly enough, although I have seen them already, they are the best ones on the disc.  Star Wars, F-Zero, and Viewtiful Joe are the most exciting because they show plenty of gameplay footage and these games are not out yet in the US.  Disappointingly, Soul Calibur 2 is all CG footage, although we do get to see a little bit of Link.  Based on this you can gather some idea of what he will look like in the game.  The rest of the videos are pretty average stuff.

On to the meat of any demo disk…the playables!  The Soul Calibur 2 demo was actually a little disappointing.  Perhaps I was expecting to be floored and walked away rather indifferent, and this IS only a demo, and yet I found myself bored.  After playing through 4 battles I felt like I had played this game already and wasn’t too hip on playing it over and over again.  On the plus side, the music is excellent as always, and the announcer even does a cool little vocal introduction of each opponent as you progress through the fights.  The game appears to have all of the requisite modes set up for a fighting game, including the gameplay-extending Weapon Master mode.  Overall a bit disappointing, but still worth checking out.

Although Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg was on countless “Best of E3” lists, I was not terribly excited by it.  It does have some unique elements, like rolling different eggs around over pieces of fruit (which somehow incubates them) and hatching little animal helpers.  The eggs also serve as a weapon to roll over your favorite enemy.  I enjoyed the demo, but was not too eggcited about playing the rest of the game.  Behind the unique façade is the same collection-oriented gameplay that we all know, so the actual game concept better be enough to overcome the monotonous nature of these types of games.  Perhaps there is much more technique yet to be discovered, but I can’t really say from the demo.

Viewtiful Joe is the main reason I picked this disc up, and I was definitely not disappointed here.  This game takes the common fantasies of being a superhero and a famous actor and combines them, as Joe crosses into the movie universe and becomes a time-commanding red-suited superhero.  This game is simply fun to play.  The graphics are cell-shaded and have a very comic-book style that fits the game well.  The gameplay is where it really shines.  Viewtiful Joe won’t get any points for being complicated or terribly deep, but like any good side scrolling punch and kick game it has cool attacks, lots of flash, and is fun to play.  The time control moves are especially thrilling.  I can’t see how they will solve the replayability problem that usually plagues games like this, but I played through the demo quite a few times and am eagerly awaiting Joe’s arrival in the states.

There isn’t much to say about Sonic Adventure DX that hasn’t already been said, as it is pretty much a direct port of the original Dreamcast Sonic Adventure game from four years ago.  The camera is still horrid, the gameplay inconsistent, but the graphics sharp.  Aside from the sticky camera, I enjoyed most of the levels on the demo.  You get to choose Sonic (traditional Sonic action level), Tails (snowboard race), Knuckles (find the buried emeralds), Amy (avoid a robot and get to the balloon at the end of the level), Big the Cat (catch Froggy with the fishing rod), and E-102 “Y” (destroy an enemy robot in a versus battle).  The Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles levels were fun for me, but the rest were pretty monotonous.  Add to this some frustrating graphic glitches (Sonic comes to a complete halt sometimes when he grazes a wall at full speed Ridge Racer style) and you have a pretty uneven demo.

Splinter Cell will probably not weigh too much on a decision to purchase this disc since it has already been out for quite some time now, but the demo has you infiltrating some sort of restaurant trying to get to the second floor.  This was actually my first taste of Splinter Cell in any form and I came away fairly impressed.  The graphics are great and the atmosphere is very well done.  The controls are pretty awkward sometimes, especially jumping, but overall this was one of the better demos even if the game is already out.

On the GBA side there are two downloadable (via the link cable) games to play.  The Dr. Mario single player experience is exactly what it sounds like, and since I have this game on the NES I spent very little time with it.  Also included is a sample of games from Wario Ware: Micro Megagames.  This was a total surprise to me, but I found myself playing this small subset of games more than anything else on the demo disc.  For you doubters out there, give this game a shot.  It is hilarious, speedy, and insanely addictive.

Highs:

  • Lots of marquee content
  • Cool GBA Extras
  • Only $10 (or free with a GameCube system purchase)

Lows:

  • Without a GBA and link cable, you miss out on Wario Ware.
  • Some of the games have already been released at the time of the disk's release.

Final Verdict:

Overall this is one of the best demo disks that I have ever played.  All of the games are big-time games, and I came away surprised by a couple of them.  Buy it to test out all the games, keep it to play Viewtiful Joe and Wario Ware until your hands bleed!

Overall Score: 9.0

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