Lucha Libre, otherwise known as Mexico's answer to the world of professional wrestling, might not seem like the most obvious subject matter for a cartoon series, but then, when is the subject matter for a cartoon ever terribly obvious? Regardless, Mucha Lucha! is the WB's cartoon series based on Mexico's masked wresters (or luchadors, as they're known in their native country). Now, a new Game Boy Advance game based on the series has been released, titled Mucha Lucha! Mascaritas of the Lost Code. The game features the show's three title characters, Rikochet, Buena Girl, and The Flea, in a rudimentary beat-'em-up adventure where they must discover who stole their wrestling school's coveted "Code of Masked Wrestling" or face expulsion. However, this story is actually little more than an incidental factor in Mascaritas of the Lost Code, much like practically ever other facet of the game.
Mascaritas of the Lost Code is a very simplistic beat-'em-up game. In fact, so much so that its own simplicity ends up working against it. Like most games in the genre, the controls are quite simple. Here, they boil down to punch, kick, throw, and jump buttons. When jumping, you can use either the punch or the kick button in combination to create a jump attack. Each character also has a special move that can be executed by pressing both punch and kick at the same time. Special attacks essentially wipe out every enemy that's currently on the screen, which is helpful since none of your other attacks seem to be particularly powerful. Either that or enemies are ridiculously strong, because beyond the first couple of levels, the bulk of enemies you'll face can sustain upwards of 20 to 25 hits before falling. Considering that every level in the game is actually quite short, this insanely high hit count almost seems like a tactic to try and pad out each stage's length. Regardless of intent, the game still doesn't take more than a couple of hours to finish.
Despite the number of hits required, defeating your foes is not quite as difficult as it may sound, mainly because every enemy in the game is as dim as dim can be. The only skill you'll need to acquire when playing Mascaritas of the Lost Code is that of cornering an enemy at the edge of the screen so that you can hit your attack button over and over again until he dies. That's it. Even if there's a swarm of other enemies floating around, they won't often come after you, and when they do, they'll usually only attack once--maybe twice--and then dash off again. Eliminating foes is as simple as cornering them and hammering on an attack button. Bosses aren't much tougher and only require you to occasionally jump to avoid their elementary, easily predictable attack patterns.
Another method the game uses to try and pad out the experience a bit is to throw some meaningless level objectives at you. At the end of every stage, you are assigned a letter grade based on your performance. Criteria needed for a high grade include defeating every enemy in the stage and clearing the level within a set amount of time. You might think that beating all the enemies would simply be a necessity, considering that the stage doesn't end until you've cleared away all the baddies. In actuality, however, there are hidden areas located in most stages that contain a couple of extra bad guys, as well as some occasional power-ups. Beating these hidden enemies isn't a requirement to conquer the level, but taking the time to beat them isn't a problem when you consider that it's almost a given that you can beat every stage well before the assigned time limit expires.
Mascaritas of the Lost Code's graphics and sound are a bit more noteworthy than the game's other components, but they still aren't anything particularly impressive. The game uses something of a hand-drawn art style, which is seemingly intended to resemble the look of its cartoon counterpart. More than anything else, however, it really only makes the game seem sort of low-rent and underproduced. The character designs for the game's enemies are scant and repetitive, and none of them animate particularly well. In fact, scratch that. As it is, nothing in the game animates well--enemy or otherwise. Though there are 16 levels in the game, there are really only a few different environments, and their designs are pretty stagnant and uninspired-looking. The game's sound design is fairly bare-bones, but it's at least serviceable for what the game is. Standard thuds, crashes, and punches make up the main portion of its in-game effects, and the game's background music isn't anything special, though it isn't unpleasant to listen to either.
Mucha Lucha! Mascaritas of the Lost Code is a game so utterly devoid of challenge that actually calling it a game almost seems too generous. There's just nothing here beyond a monotonous, pedestrian affair, and it can be completed in a couple of hours with only the slightest of efforts. Furthermore, it's completely uninteresting from start to finish. Even if you're a fan of the cartoon series, Mascaritas of the Lost Code does nothing of note with its source material and will only serve to disappoint you.