El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera
The first thing I did when I loaded up El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera was watch the one episode included with the game. Itís the only episode of the Nickelodeon cartoon Iíve ever seen, but it was quite good. Manny Rivera is your average kid, and with the touch of his magic belt he becomes the superhero El Tigre. The Latin American humor was a bit over the top with many references to churro pastries and the word ďmangĒ, but I thought this sole episode would be a good introduction to the budget title. Instead, it serves as the best thing about El Tigre.
“That sense of awe lasted until I played for a short while. “
At the start of the game, itís instantly noticeable that there is no voice acting. Not a single phrase, groan or battle cry is here. The cut scenes donít even convey a coherent story unless the manual is read. These scenes consist of chintzy pictures with a couple lines of text under each one. None of the humor of the cartoon managed to make the transition onto the PlayStation 2. Some personality would have gone a long way in making El Tigre at least faintly memorable.
I briefly ignored these problems when I heard the stirring Mexican-inspired music once the stage finished loaded. Here was El Tigre, looking heroic on the rooftops of Miracle City. The cel-shaded graphics were vibrant and cartoonish. That sense of awe lasted until I played for a short while. El Tigre can be considered a 2.5 dimensional platformer. The characters, which all play exactly the same, move left to right for the entire level, but they can also move slightly into the foreground and background. The paths are so thin that this hardly adds anything to the game, as there are only a couple moments in the game where it was necessary to move anywhere from left to right.
El Tigre awkwardly canít decide what to do with its dimensions, and the rest of the game is equally muddled. The levels are little more than obstacle courses. Combat is useless because you only lose points when youíre hit, and a good portion of the enemies are indestructible and can kill you in one shot. I have never seen as many birds as I have in this game. These birds, which always move in simplistic patterns, are encountered more than anything else. All they do is try to interfere with the constant double-jumping which makes up the bulk of the gameplay. I could handle one level with birds. I could barely tolerate two. I wanted to go insane when there were three. Finally, in the fourth and final level, there wasnít a bird in sight. I guess thatís the reward for making it to the end of the game.
Thereís so much jumping involved in El Tigre that I actually found my thumb getting a little sore midway through the levels, which each last about ten to twenty minutes. There are some tricky segments here and there, but there are checkpoints every minute or so. The monotony of the levels is briefly shaken up with timed segments where a glowing green burrito must be obtained. No joke. There are no lives, health bars or anything like that to worry about anywhere in the game. El Tigre and his friends are so bad ass that they just keep going and going until the level is completed. Not having to worry about anything makes the final boss incredibly dull. To be fair, this is one of the rare segments where moving in three dimensions is actually required, although the brief fight and the heroís immortality takes away from the moment.
” For 20 bucks, I expect more than an hour of gameplay…”
There are a couple bonus levels that involve racing a shopping cart down a hill. In one of these levels thereís an awesome version of the Mexican Hat Dance that sounds like it should be played to a surfer video. Aside from that snazzy tune, these downhill rides arenít that fun because hitting any obstacle brings the shopping cart back to the beginning. The controls are very loose, so handling is needlessly difficult, but in all fairness, shopping carts arenít meant to have the best handling.
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera may be a charming cartoon with a kitschy Mexican angle, but as a game, itís not good. When the included episode and a couple of the music tracks are the highlights of the game, there is something not right about the entire package. You could say that this is expected since it is a budget game, though I still donít think thatís a valid excuse. For 20 bucks, I expect more than an hour of gameplay and a whole flock of obnoxious birds trying to impede my progress.
Three out of ten
- Sharp graphics
- Some catchy tunes
- About an hour long
- Terrible climax
- No voice acting