IGN Review of Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury
So nearly one year ago this creepy doll-fighting Poke-meh anime game lands on IGN's Chris Roper's desk, and literally confuses the hell out of him. After scouring the game for any sense of rational thinking or down-to-earth adventure, he gives up, resorting to a review of Zatch Bell! Mamodo Battles that goes along the lines of "Someone please help me, all you do is button mash, and I don't know what in the Sam hell is going on." Now that we're back where we started with Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury, it's my turn, and let me tell you, it's just as confusing and full of Engrish intrusion as its predecessor. While the previous game didn't get very high marks on anyone's scale, it at least had a very simple charm that served to be the basis of tons of wacky characters from the show, and gave younger gamers a reason to - above all else - mash the PS2 controller as fast as possible with their fist. In hopes of bringing a more solid adventure to console gamers, Mamodo Fury attempts a redesign that mirrors the show more accurately. What it doesn't do, however, is make a solid game.
Like nearly every other Poke-clone out there nowadays, Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury is out to be the next "be the best" game, pairing a young well-to-do boy with a crazed companion. In this case, it's Zatch, a young puppet-child known as a mamodo. What exactly is a mamodo? We're not sure anyone really knows, but they're all about slavery apparently, and it's the players job to grab a spell book, learn spells, and lead Zatch into battle for personal gain. It's kind of like Pokemon, but instead of forcing animals to fight, you make younglings do it instead. In the world of Mamodo Fury, players will control both Zatch and his "friend" Kiyo in tandem, switching between the two as they take on other teams of fighters. While the overall design does a better job of depicting how the show works, the overall execution is painful, as it becomes abundantly clear that Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury is a quick cash-out on the series.
In Mamodo Battles, the main plaguing issue revolved around a lack of depth, as the game turned into an A.D.D. button mashing bonanza with little to no structure. In Mamodo Fury, the game counters its predecessor by being entirely void of entertainment, and downright broken in areas. For starters, the camera is absolutely pitiful, and ranks as one of the worst we've ever seen. Attempting to follow in a third person perspective behind either Kiyo or Zatch, the view is constantly rubber-banding in an attempt to keep a lock on the enemy fighters. While there are multiple ways to change the view mode of the camera, none of them help, making Zatch Bell! an amazingly annoying game to work around. In addition, players have to control two different characters at once, and can also attack both the human and mamodo enemies during the battle. By pressing and holding the square button, Kiyo can charge an attack for Zatch to use. If hand-to-hand is more your style, you can physically run up to characters and hit them in the face instead, though combat is astonishingly clunky. No matter how you attempt to play, the outcome will be the same: Boredom.
It isn't the lack of style, as the series is full of tons of Engrish comments and oddball VO work which - we hope - is done purposely. The fault in Mamodo Fury lies in the amazingly bland battles and lack of any true depth to the game. Each fight has you either running from enemies, beating the rival's puppet nearly to death, or stopping the opposing team from completing a secondary objective. That seems all well and good, until you realize that nearly every battle is the same, and an elite few manage to be broken as well. In one battle specifically, we had to defend the enemy from attacking the school. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately any attacks we did didn't stop them from casting spell after spell at the building which, due to the horrid camera, was off-screen. As an alternate strategy, we focused on beating up the human caster, since he can't shove magic off if he doesn't have his fancy spell book. Luckily for us, the camera again plagued our strategy, as we ran around in circles trying to chase the human character while the camera insisted that we look at his tiny little puppet-kid. Top that off with a time limit of 150 to drain down, and there's literally no way a younger gamers is going to pass the mission. This is only one of the many situations where we simply marveled that this game sports a healthy $39.99 price tag.
On top of the amazingly limited (and broken) gameplay, Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury has the look and feel of a budget title. The graphical presentation is basic cell shading, and the music is entirely generic. The only high point to the package is the sheer amount of VO work that's included in the game, teamed with a ton of storyboard cinemas. That being said, the game's overall presentation is average at best, making Zatch Bell! a game that not only plays like Ash Ketchum's nightmare, but looks and sounds like a thrown together mish-mash of assets and audio from the show.
©2006-11-08, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved