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Men in Black 2
Review By: Jesse Mason
Developer:   David A. Palmes
Publisher:   Crave
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Platformer
ESRB:    Everyone
Date Posted:    8-18-00

I call it "The Grid." It's a symptom of many games that makes them feel as if the screen were split up into a bunch of boxes, or a grid. As you move throughout the game, you clash with other boxes. If something bad enters your box, you suffer the consequences, if something good, then you get the benefits. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's used in pretty much every platformer, heck, pretty much every 2D game there is (at least the ones where you have direct control of your character anyway). It's what separates who grabbed the Fire Flower and who had an unfortunate run in with a Goomba; who made it to the ledge and who will have to pray for a branch to catch.

Men in Black 2, a sequel to a game that received 0.00 here at Video Game Heaven, feels as if the grid were just sketched in after the developers went out for a nice cup of coffee. Because of this, the control is just god awful. It's games like these where you swear that you weren't anywhere near that (hard to see) alien and people actually believe you. Men in Black 2 is full of embarrassing moments where it looks like you grab a ledge, when you the game says "nope, not this time." It's acceptable in most games, where the ledges that you can grab and the ledges where "you can't, but why don't you try anyway just for fun?" are clearly defined. In Men in Black 2, it looks like the designers just slapped down some platforms and then said "ok, for this ledge, you have to go around, you can't just jump up."

Which brings me to another point. The Game Boy isn't exactly level design heaven (most Game Boy games are, like this one, just hack jobs), but Men in Black 2 is just plain boring. For each level you jump up and down on the same tired platforms fending off the same strategically placed enemies and avoiding the same spikes. The game also falls victim to what I call "GoldenEye Symptom." Ever since GoldenEye wowed people with it's missions for each level, every single game released doesn't seem content with just giving people a level to plow through (like how action movies have to have some character or political issue to deal with so they have an excuse to blow things up). So in Men in Black 2, you have to spend your precious time searching for the special MIB agent glasses, which to me is an exercise in tedium. Who wants to spend their time searching for MIB agent glasses in levels as boring as these? There's nothing unique to any of them, except in the forest level, there's slippery ice to deal with and in the other level there's electric shocks instead of spikes and so on. Another quib: why do you lose life when falling from a great distance onto the ground in a game as unrealistic as this (it is based on the cartoon version of MIB after all)? Even so, I probably wouldn't mind as much if the distance were greater. It makes landing on a ledge as dangerous as missing it.

The enemies aren't anything to write home about. For one thing, this is a Game Boy game, so they're small and you can't really tell what they are (I assume they are aliens), more importantly, you can't tell where they are, making more tedium for your enjoyment. But they fall victim to another symptom of the grid. The MIB agents don't have much for physical prowess (no hand to hand combat with aliens here), so their only line of defense against these horrible aliens are various guns (which all look pretty much the same). But the Grid strikes again. Movement on the grid is subjected to various locked movements. Which means that you're subjected to shooting in the same directions all the time (Up, left, right, or if you're running, up-left and up-right). Which means that you always jump the same distance (about one and a half MIB agents high). Which means that you're real output in the game is quite limited. If I remember right the MIB agents didn't shoot many aliens in the movie or cartoon anyway. They mostly investigated aliens that threatened to spread the news that aliens actually existed and flashed that memory-erasing thingy. How come the developers decided against using any of that and instead did what could possibly be the worst example of an insomnia curing platformer.

There's another thing that most games like this suffer from. I call it the Money Bag. Game developers get a license and produce a crud game. A game that feels like it's on a grid. It's only supposed to go where the license takes it-straight to the fools who shill out money bags because "it's Men in Black 2."

Overall: 3.6
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