Many people assume that action games based on cartoon licenses are nothing more than mediocre brawlers with familiar characters pasted in. Unfortunately, Midway's Justice League: Injustice for All for the Game Boy Advance does nothing to change this perception. Devout fans of the series will enjoy seeing their favorite heroes punch and kick their way to the bottom of Lex Luthor's latest scheme, but when you strip away Batman, Superman, and the other Justice League characters, all that remains is a formulaic beat-'em-up with 12 stages and a few tricky jump sequences.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2002/gba/justiceleague/0001.jpgBatman can cling to walls for a boost.
That isn't to say the game is without its finer points. You get to control seven different superheroes, all with their appropriate superpowers. Everyone except Batman and the Flash can fly. Superman has his heat vision, Wonder Woman has her lasso, and Batman can toss batarangs. Martian Manhunter is a character who isn't well known outside of comic book circles, but he has one of the best abilities in the game--his superpower enables him to pass through walls. Each of the game's 12 stages features two of these superheroes. When one character faints, you can finish the level with the other. Once in a while, you'll also encounter a puzzle that requires the abilities of a specific hero, whom you can swap to by pressing the select button.
The variety of abilities is great, but the levels really don't give you much opportunity to utilize them. Every area is set up as a series of interconnected rooms. In order to reach the boss, you need to find the keys to unlock the room he is in. Exploration involves walking around, jumping between raised platforms, and generally checking every doorway for an entrance that leads to yet another room. As you'd expect, most rooms are full of hired goons and robots that are programmed to stop you. Since the combat is similar to that of other beat-'em-ups, you can vanquish most of them with a few well-timed kicks and punches.
It's the appearance of the Justice League characters and a few cinema sequences that establishes the game's personality. The art style of the backgrounds and characters resemble the one featured in the cartoon series, which is to say that the backgrounds and characters are a bit more simplistic than you're probably used to seeing in GBA games. It's not so bad to see in motion, however. At the same time, the dialogue faithfully portrays the onscreen persona of each hero. If you feel the Flash has a dumb sense of humor on television, you'll get the exact same impression from the game. Since there isn't much movement in the background, most of the action you'll see comes from the various goons in each stage. Other than the bosses, however, the enemies you'll face aren't very interesting or identifiable, which tends to exacerbate the cookie-cutter feeling you'll get while playing each level.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2002/gba/justiceleague/0002.jpgGreen Lantern hammers a foe.
The audio falls into a similar category. The music fits the tone you'd expect from a superhero game, and some of the tracks are quite inspiring, but none of the tunes are unique to the Justice League franchise. The various sound effects used for punches and effects like Superman's heat vision are also rather appropriate, but again, not terribly unique or interesting.
The plain truth is that Justice League: Injustice for All has nothing to differentiate it from the scores of other action adventure games on store shelves. It's not a bad game, and fans of the cartoon series will enjoy the opportunity to play as their favorite characters, but the gameplay is far from developed, and the payoff is too quick in coming.