Masters of the Universe: He-Man - Power of Grayskull
System: Game Boy Advance
Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Developer: Taniko
Released: November 2002
Genre: Action
Capabilities: Password-Save Function

Review Written: December 30, 2002

Who can forget the classic Masters of the Universe cartoon? It had a colorful cast of characters with the likes of Skeletor, Ram Ram, and the almighty He-Man. They will always be embedded in my mind from my years growing up watching them every Saturday morning.

Now the Masters of the Universe series makes it return to the video game market for the first time in god knows how long on the Game Boy Advance. You control He-Man as you protect Eternia from the invading armies of Skeletor.

Power of Grayskull isnít the most advanced action game of its kind. It utilized most of the buttons on the GBA in proper fashion. A and B are your functions to jump and attack with your sword, respectively. The shoulder buttons allow you to run or block. Thatís about it, no mind blowing moves or anything. None of the attacks do anything special for me, and itíll seem like you are playing an early NES action game. You can collect power ups throughout the levels that temporarily boost your skills, but those wonít leave any lasting remarks either. Itís boggling that the ďmaster of the universeĒ dies whenever he steps off the slightest boundary of a stage. Smell the frustration.

The actual game play isnít anything too thrilling. Throughout the gameís thirteen levels you find yourself errand running for people by rescuing many of He-Manís sidekicks. This gets awfully tedious right away. The developers probably thought they could cure the repetitive game play by adding in a few levels where you get to fly the Stratos. This isnít the case because these stages only seem like bonus levels where all you do is collect crystals.

Instead of battling many of the memorable bosses from the cartoon show, you end up dueling against puny skeletons and spiders. Yes, you do get into the ultimate showdown with Skeletor (along with a couple of other bosses here and there) in the end, but by the time you get there it doesnít feel like it was worth the effort.

Power of Grayskull uses a ĺ isometric perspective for game play. Unfortunately this view causes a lot of mistimed jumps which will send He-Man to his grave. Why the hell do you have to painfully time your jump in a simple action game like this? The design of the stages isnít too shabby. All the textures and shading for the trees, fields, and everything else are right on the mark but nothing really stands out. The same can be said about the character models. Most of these simple sprites only consist of a few frames of animation. The grainy presentation makes it seem like PoG was being developed on the GB Color instead of the GB Advance.

Not too much can be said about the audio effects in PoG. You got a few mediocre background tunes that get annoying fairly quick. The sound effects for your sword slashes and jumps consist of your usual fare from other games in this genre. Again, this wouldíve been suitable on the GB Color, and itís apparent the developers at Taniko did a half-ass job all around.  

After you finish up He-Manís legendary adventure in a good hour or two, there isnít any justification to play it through again. Some link support with a two (or even four) player co-op/battle mode wouldíve been nice, but no such luck. Itís worth noting the only real extra included is not even in the game, but packaged in the box as a freebie. Itís a mini-comic that only the little tikes will get a kick out of.  

RATINGS 

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 3.6
Game play: 3.0
Replay: 0.5

Overall: 3.1

I donít know if I should even recommend Power of Grayskull to the fans of the show unless youíre some wacko whoís a hardcore He-Man fanatic. Everything is extremely simple, and youíll find no real challenge accept for timing your jumps. After you completed the game in the couple of hours it takes, itíll end up in the trash can. While this may be nostalgic for some old fans, Power of Grayskull isnít worth your time. Leave this one alone kids, youíll have more fun playing Pachinko with Grandma Mabel.

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