Car Battler Joe

Game Boy Advance

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9.5

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

Car Battler Joe is definitely one of those games. A strange hybrid of Pokemon, Twisted Metal, a dash of Final Fantasy like RPG elements, and open ended gameplay much like the Grand Theft Auto series, Joe won't appeal to anyone who refuse give it some time, but these people are missing out on one of the best portable RPG's of all time.

Players assume the role of Joe Todorki, a just-turned 16-year old who has just been given his first car. Not just any car of course, this is a fully equipped gun car. These cars are the meat of the game. Each one can be equipped with hundreds of different weapons, engines, frames, and more. According to the box, there are over a million different combinations.

If playing around with different car parts isn't something you'll enjoy, don't worry about it. You don't have to. The car you're given is adequate and can still get you further into the game. If you're not a fan of the story, don't worry about that either. It's not necessary to keep it going. All of this open endedness makes this a game just about anyone could get into, but the people who delve deeper into the games complexities will enjoy it the most.

Joe can travel from town to town at any time resulting in the game changing from an semi-overhead view for the walking portions, to a fantastic psuedo-3D mode-7 style view for the driving sequences. These are the sequences in which all of the action takes place. The control for these ever moving segments seems slightly off at first, but after some time, you'll be able to handle your battle car.

Building a car requires specific parts and these can either be purchased from local shops, or found from destroyed cars during the driving segments. Four different types of cars can be built from these parts, and the possibilities are truly endless. How many cars you have depends on how large your garage is. Building it requires supplies, which again, can be purchased or found. Certain towns can also be built with these supplies and they gladly offer you power-ups for your help. Players can literally spend countless hours modifying weapons, engines, and more if they so choose.

The story is fairly generic, but it's told well thanks to the excellent sprites which express what they are thinking on their faces. Countless animations fill the game, giving it life and style. The use of mode-7 for the driving sequences is also deserves a second mention as it's probably the best use of it on the console. The music is supplied by the great Yuzo Koshiro, most likely remembered from Actraiser and Streets of Rage. The excellent tracks sound superb coming from the GBA, but a few more tunes would soften the repetitiveness.

Completing the story mode would probably take only 6-8 hours if you play through without taking anytime to do anything else. Even then the game doesn't really end. You're still allowed to continue on, entering tournaments, helping out towns, and building cars. Games like this are what gaming is all about.

Car Battler Joe will no doubt be one of the most underrated games of all time. Though it can be occasionally repetitive and you might not know where to go from time to time, these minor issues in no way affect the game negatively. If you see this little gem from Natsume, pick it up without hesitation. You'll thank yourself later.


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Last updated: Saturday, June 11, 2005 06:37 AM