Licensed properties seldom make good video games, a fact reinforced by the many downright horrid titles released in the '90s. In recent times, however, this stigma has been lifted somewhat, thanks mostly to the stellar efforts of Activision and its stable of talented development teams. Starring the scrappy action hero Jackie Chan (or his cartoon alter ego), the company's latest licensed acquisition looks to continue this upward trend with the release of Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand.
Based on the Kids' WB! cartoon series, Jackie Chan Adventures brings to the Game Boy Advance the style and athleticism that the popular action hero is known for. The storyline is a little off the beaten track when compared with Chan's more down-to-earth feature-length movies, but it should suit the realm of video games just fine. An expert archeologist, Chan is recruited by a clandestine government agency, known only as Section 13, to prevent the Dark Hand organization from achieving its nefarious goal and to ultimately destroy it. Seeking eight legendary scrolls, Chan and his niece apprentice, Jade, travel the globe, clashing with the Dark Hand's demonic henchman wherever their quest takes them.
As Chan makes his way through 10 levels of side-scrolling beat-'em-up action, he'll be able to unleash a flurry of punches and kicks on anyone who stands in his way. True to form, he'll also be able to use real-world objects to his advantage. Be it a broom, umbrella, or the ever-embarrassing fish, Chan can use these crude implements as makeshift weapons to help stem the tide of Shadowkhan warriors. Additionally, each stage promises to include puzzles that must be solved to help uncover the ancient scrolls, as well as huge end-of-level bosses. Points are earned by performing different attacks, though whether or not these will be used for anything more than bragging rights on a high score table is not yet known.
Large, detailed sprites should please the series' faithful following, as will the appearance of many of the show's popular characters, including Valmont, the leader of the Dark Hand and his sorcerer, Shendu. It remains to be seen whether or not the in-game animation will do justice to Chan's fluid, high-energy style of martial arts, but the game's overall look and feel should remain true to the cartoon on which it is based. Missions take place both during the day and at night, as well as in locales ranging from city streets to ancient temples.
Developed by Torus Games, a company with a spotty yet extensive Game Boy Color track record, Jackie Chan Adventures could prove to be an enjoyable action title and worthy competition for the likes of the old favorite Final Fight One. A multiplayer versus mode, much like the one found in Activision's recent release, X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse, would most certainly be welcome, but it has yet to be announced. Expect more coverage right here on GameSpot as the game's release draws near.