Dark Arena - GBA

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Viewed: 3D First-person Genre:
Shoot 'Em Up
Arcade origin:No
Publishers: Majesco (US)
Released: 15 Feb 2002 (GB)
2002 (US)
Ratings: 11+, ESRB Teen 13+ (T)
Connectivity: Link Cable


Now that Nintendo’s world renowned Game Boy has gone 32-bit and 3D capable, simple, portable 3D action games are a reality on the bus or the train. Dark Arena exploits the capabilities of the Game Boy Advance greatly, and is an early first-person shooter release that rivals Doom and Ecks vs Sever in the aesthetic and game mechanics departments.

Dark Arena excels as a technical achievement. The environments are 3D and appear somewhere between SNES and PlayStation in quality. There’s plenty of colour, little slowdown, and lots of on-screen action.

We all know there’s more to a game than what it looks like. True, the opportunity for innovation in the FPS genre is distinctly narrow. And rather than make a poor attempt at creating something original, most developers tend to opt for a refining process that improves the genre. This is the case with Dark Arena. It might be lacking in originality, both technically and otherwise, but the game has been executed very well. Sometimes it’s just a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

Your task as Special Operation Officer is to dispose of hundreds of unidentifiable and hostile life forms, solving any mysteries and puzzles you come across along the way. Up, down, left, right, strafe, fire weapon – the usual FPS antics.

Fantastic solo mode aside, Dark Arena’s strongest claim as a great title lies in the multi-player option. Bonding with link cables, yourself and up to three others are able to combine your forces and shoot your way through 20 original environments.

At the end of the day, Dark Arens is just another FPS game, but seeing it run on a handheld gives it an appealing novelty factor. Oh, and it’s a great game.