Developed by Sensory Sweep and Screaming Games, Atari's Yu Yu Hakusho Spirit Detective for the GBA follows the story of the popular Funimation cartoon. Yusuke Urameshi is an impulsive, and somewhat ill-tempered 14-year old boy who, while roaming about his local villa one day looking for a fight, gets killed while saving a young boy from a speeding car. But rather than pass on, Yusuke encounters the sprightly pilot of the river Styx, Botan who helps Yusuke on his quest to regain his body and, through possession battle evil spirits of the world. This starts with inhabiting Yusuke's nemesis, Kuwabara and preventing the cremation of his own body.
Most of the game (and show on which it's based) is full of wacky antics for Yusuke's spirit, and the love/hate relationship he holds with Kayko, the only girl on Earth who can see him, who looks after Yusuke's dead body (yuck) until the day he can regain control of it. It's a shame the gameplay isn't as ambitious as the story.
- 3 save slots
- Automatic saving after each level
- Play as several characters from the hit show
Everything is presented in a rather confusing isometric perspective, with incredibly bland backgrounds; You'd think that since you're running past the same five or so buildings over and over, they could at least have been interesting. The majority of the game is spent, well, running. A good 90% of this game involves holding down the D-pad to run to your next target. Objectives include running to specific areas, running to collect objects (like homework), running to find friends and enemies...you get the idea. Collision is also sketchy, so expect to run into the occasional invisible corner, giving your enemies ample time to beat on you.
Also working against the game is the fact that the developers included an ever-present compass to guide you on your way. The reason this is unfortunate is that it kills any need for exploration or deduction on the part of the player. Simply run in the direction your compass points and you can essentially beat the game without having any idea what's going on. Of course, finding your objectives without the compass would be almost impossible because of how repetitive and maze-like the levels are, but that doesn't excuse this sloppy game cheat. And the compass is also at times rather unintuitive, so if you're searching for several objects, it won't lock onto the nearest one but guide you to each in a pre-determined order, leading to unnecessarily long treks while closer pieces might be sitting just a screen away.
Along the way, you can also get into fights with just about everyone under the sun. Yusuke is a major punk, as we're told over and over so it makes sense that you can always take a moment to beat on anyone wandering the streets. But I would go out on a limb and say the fighting in this title is the most generic and drab I've ever come across. Smash that A button and you'll hurl punches and kicks at your enemy. But you can beat pretty much any fight by punching, backing away slightly, punching again, and so on. You can upgrade to weapons and special attacks later, but they're really not that special. The fact that the enemy AI is reduced to running at you and punching wildly in place makes the fights a joke. And since you run about twice as fast as everyone else in the game, you'll spend most of your time simply avoiding your opponents.
On the plus side, the story is great. Text cut-scenes pop up regularly and the dialogue is as witty and engaging as any episode of the show, something you'll notice from the first moment Yusuke and his lazy mother berate each other over breakfast. The pre-rendered models work well, too and while a bit stiff, are clear and show good movement. Music is pretty weak, with compositions that would have been mediocre on GBC and tend to loop every ten seconds or so. Fans of the show, however might enjoy hearing the same melodies they've grown accustomed to on TV.
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