The Crocodile Hunter: Operation Rescue Hands-on

Crikey! We rassle with a preview version of this attractive side-scrolling adventure.

Steve Irwin, intrepid Aussie naturalist and TV star, is getting his own mobile game. Yes, you read that right--just when you thought that mobile games publishers were running out of absurd licenses to attach to their titles, they turn to their enormous private reserve. Still, if there's one TV personality that deserves a mobile adventure, it's the good-natured Irwin, who has made a name for himself by wrestling crocodiles and other dangerous jungle fauna on camera. The Crocodile Hunter: Operation Rescue will cover Irwin's quest to free a gaggle of would-be suitcases from poachers, using entirely nonviolent means. The beta version of the game we tried was an intuitive, classic platformer that looked and played like it will proudly represent the Croc Hunter legacy.

Ain't she a beaut?

The Crocodile Hunter is set in a jungle filled with the beady-eyed reptiles, which have been confined to cages by roving bands of poachers. In order to live up to his billing as the gutsiest scientist of them all, Irwin has to dodge or disable the baddies and rescue the crocs one by one. Luckily, he's equipped with plenty of nonlethal weaponry to take down the poachers. You have an unlimited number of nets you can throw over the criminals to immobilize them, and it's also possible to pick up smoke bombs along the way for an added offensive punch. The poachers, for their part, will send a lot of tranquilizer darts in your direction. These darts are easy enough to duck under, but they travel very quickly, so you have to be watching for them. The level we tried reminded us a lot of the old Pitfall games: There were lots of ladders to climb, holes to nimbly hop over, and poisonous snakes to run away from.

To be sure, this type of gameplay is the video game equivalent of cave painting, but The Crocodile Hunter sported a nice look on our test LG VX7000. The ample graphics made use of a full range of jungle colors while maintaining a solid run speed--the art style heightened the comparison with the earlier Pitfall platformers, which certainly isn't a drawback. The game's sound was really phenomenal, on the other hand. It almost sounded like Enorbus had written Irwin a full theatrical score.

SkyZone will be releasing The Crocodile Hunter: Operation Rescue in the next few months on Verizon, with other versions of the game to follow. Judging from what we've seen, Irwin fans and platformer aficionados would do well to be on the lookout. Check back here for our full review.

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