Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is raking in millions at the box office. Not coincidentally, THQ and David A. Palmer Productions have created an action game for the Game Boy Advance that's based on the movie. It looks and sounds as impressive as you might expect a game based on the special-effects-filled film would. However, the game itself, largely due to control issues, is very, very bad.
From the screenshots alone, it's easy to get the impression that Attack of the Clones is a top-rate action game. The side-scrolling levels are colorful and highly reminiscent of scenes from the movie, especially the rooftops of Coruscant and the dunes of Tatooine. Scattered between these traditional 2D side-scrolling areas, there are a number of 3D starfighter stages that re-create some of the movie's more fast-paced sequences. The music and sound effects, too, are quite faithful to the motion picture and at times are clear enough to be mistaken for the actual soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the game itself is often unenjoyable and sometimes just downright awful. Many of the game's problems stem from its control--or, rather, the lack of control that you have over the characters you're trying to play as. In the side-scrolling stages, you assume the roles of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Mace Windu. Theoretically, each Jedi can jump, crouch, swing his lightsaber, block, and execute a force push. In practice, however, the game makes it difficult to execute even the simplest of moves. You can swing your lightsaber while running or crouching, but not while standing still. Conversely, blocking is easy to perform while standing, but nearly impossible while crouching or running. To make matters worse, there is a noticeable delay between when you press a button and when the action is actually performed. In levels where there are many enemies attacking at once, this ensures you'll take plenty of cheap hits, as your character simply can't react fast enough, even if you can.
Glaring control flaws aside, the level design in Attack of the Clones is terrible. In the side-scrolling stages, your only goal is to reach the far right of the screen. Since each area has approximately 100 droids to destroy, and some of them pop up randomly, this task is easier said than done. Thankfully, extra lives are scattered plentifully throughout each level, and the final upgrade to your force power actually causes health power-ups to drop from vanquished enemies. Rarely do you ever need to jump between ledges or explore for items. In fact, there are just two levels out of 11 that require any backtracking.
The only bright spots in the entire game are the fifth and 10th levels, which let you pilot starfighters against Jango Fett and Darth Tyranus. In these, you can actually shoot back while dodging asteroids and scrapping droid fighters--but without the poor control response found in the side-scrolling stages.
Because it bears the title Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, this game is likely going to sell well. That doesn't mean that it's worth owning, or that you should be subjected to it, even if you're a huge fan of the film. Certainly, there are worse games sitting on the store shelf. But not many.