Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand
Game Boy Advance
Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up patterned after the similarly titled cartoon series, which in turn is based around humble kung-fu action star Jackie Chan. Though an experienced archaeologist, Chan performs undercover work for a government agency known only as Section 13. Led by Captain Black, the agency is solely concerned with retrieving eight sacred scrolls before the vile Dark Hand -- an evil criminal organization -- does. The plot is hardly noteworthy, but it follows the basic premise of the show, and serves as a perfect excuse for Chan to put the hurt on wave after wave of enemies.
Throughout the stages, Chan will be accosted by familiar enemies from the show, including Shadowkhan warriors and Valmont's lackey's Chow, Ratso, and Finn. To fend them off, Chan has an assortment of kicks and punches at his disposal, all of which are easily executed with a combination of D-pad and button presses. Although players are able to learn new moves as they progress through the title (each of the eight scrolls imbues Chan with a new fighting move), the basic set will prove more than effective enough for the duration of the game. What this does, unfortunately, is ensure that combat can, and often will, degenerate into little more than a button smashfest. That said, interactive objects within each level help break up the monotony somewhat as they can be picked up and used to your advantage -- in keeping with Chan's trademark high-energy fighting style. Boxes, chairs, umbrellas, suitcases, and the like can be used as rudimentary weapons or, alternatively, can simply be hurled at oncoming enemies.
Torus Games has included a point-scoring system, in which point values are assigned to particular moves with point multipliers awarded for stringing moves together. Earn enough points by the end of the stage and you'll be awarded with a black belt which, aside from high-score bragging rights, also grants the player an additional life. No doubt this was done in an attempt to prevent the aforementioned button-smashing scenario, but when basic attacks are this effective, there really is no need to go out on a limb to try and earn an extra life.
To its credit, the look and feel of the title, at least in terms of the cartoon series it's based upon, is remarkably accurate. The sprites are large and slowdown, even with multiple characters onscreen, seems all but non-existent. Chan's animation routines are commendable, but those of the enemy characters and bosses leaves much to be desired. By the same token, environments are clean and colorful, but lack any great degree of detail.
For all its flaws, Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand does an admirable job of re-creating the cartoon license; infusing it with enjoyable, if repetitive beat-'em-up action. Fans of the series or its star will probably be able to overlook its basic flaws, and in all honesty, the game is fun when played in short intervals. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Large character sprites, but they suffer from lack of detail and, other than Jackie Chan, poor animation. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
The Asian-themed music is good, but is marred by poor sound quality and lack of variation. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
The first few levels are highly entertaining, but the combat engine wears thin after a while. From then on, it's all downhill. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
A couple hours of playtime at best. Repeat play-throughs are not likely either. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
A full listing of attacks, including, for some unknown reason, the sacred scroll attacks. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide