Alongside the release of Curious George for consoles and the PC comes a GBA adventure starring the titular monkey hero. Similar to the console and PC game, Curious George on the GBA attempts to loosely follow the plot of the hit children's movie amid a lot of platforming. Unlike the other versions of the game, however, this version has a bit of challenge to it. It's nothing mind-blowing, but you won't be able to just breeze through each level like it was utter child's play, the way you could in the other versions. However, you still will be able to breeze through the entirety of the game in just a scant couple of hours, and while the game can be quite enjoyable at times, it can be quite trying at others.
As mentioned, the plot of the game emulates the film for the most part. The Man in the Yellow Hat (or Ted, as he's named in the film) is on an expedition in Africa to find a lost idol. That expedition goes awry, and Ted heads back to America, sorely dejected. But he doesn't come away completely empty-handed. A curious little monkey that Ted befriended during his journey manages to tag along and follow him back to the states. Ted names the monkey George, and wacky hijinks ensue.
Like the console games, Curious George for the GBA takes George and turns him into a platformer hero. George's main abilities are limited; he can jump with the A button, and if you hold down B, he'll run faster. However, there are multiple things he can grab onto and swing from that give him some added advantages. There are plenty of monkey bars, vines, ledges, and other such things to play with, as well as tons of collectible fireflies. Collecting enough fireflies yields extra lives--however, there are so many of them scattered throughout every stage, you're likely to end up with 25 or more stored lives by the time you finish the game.
For the most part, the levels in Curious George are cleverly designed. The game tosses just enough pitfalls and traps at you to keep you thinking, but doesn't bog you down with them as to make it too difficult. There are also some hidden nooks and crannies to explore that will often yield more fireflies. Unfortunately, the game does have its frustrations. Specifically, the controls are often imprecise. Jumping around with George can be tougher than it needs to be, simply because his landings never seem to go quite right. He'll sometimes land perfectly fine on a ledge, yet somehow slide right off it for no good reason. Also, some jumps off of swings or poles require a little too much precision for their own good. There aren't an awful lot of places where these issues pop up, but considering that you can beat Curious George in 2-3 hours' time, those irritating spots tend to stand out more.
Curious George presents itself fairly well on the GBA hardware. The graphics are colorful and crisp, and the game's various enemies and characters all animate nicely. The environmental designs are mostly pleasant looking, although many of the same environments tend to get reused, and some of them are a little bland. There's not much audio in the game, save for the occasionally catchy tunes that play during each stage. While the console and PC versions of Curious George went for more low-key music that was usually cheery in nature, the GBA game's music leans heavier on faster, more upbeat songs that sometimes feel out of place. Not bad, exactly, but not quite right.
Curious George delivers a primarily decent experience on the GBA, although very little of it is especially remarkable. The fact that it actually does have some challenge to it is a nice change of pace from the typically oversimplified movie-licensed fare, but the fact that some of that challenge is artificial and frustrating kind of counteracts that. It's a fairly inoffensive platformer on a system that harbors lots of inoffensive platformers, many of which are far more interesting than what Curious George offers.