During my interview with Jean-Francois Major, it was revealed that he and his team had once been a part of Ubisoft licensed games division, and they worked on creating games for the Game Boy Advance (as well as Scott Pilgrim). Fresh off the interview, I felt the mood to have a go at one of the GBA titles they crafted. That title being Open Season. For those that are unfamiliar with the name, Open Season is an animated film released in 2006 by Sony Pictures that had a whopping three sequels. Yet the original movie was the only one to be in theaters worldwide and had its marketing go as far as video game tie-ins. That’s where Ubisoft comes in.
There were video game ports of Open Season on all the major platforms in the sixth console generation (as well as Wii and Xbox 360). Critical reception was mixed for the various versions. I wouldn’t know what they were like since I didn’t play them. What I did play is the release on the Game Boy Advance. But why? Of all the platforms the name found itself on why would I pick this particular offering? Well, you can see for yourself as I continue rambling on about what I believe is a hidden goody for the handheld device.
This game goes for the traditional 2D platformer route. As the movie’s protagonist, Boog the bear, you traverse a series of levels that consist of platforming challenges from start to finish. Interestingly, this forest-themed game takes inspiration from the Mega Man titles in many ways. The stages can be selected in any order you wish. You can also find animals that serve as ammo for different weapons, purchase items with collectible currency, fight a boss at the end of each stage, and be rewarded with an upgrade of some sort. Boog himself is surprisingly acrobatic for a tubby bear; he can curl into a ball and roll, and climb up walls with repeated presses of the jump button. Both are akin to that of Mega Man X‘s dashing and wall jumping.
There are a lot of similarities with the classic Mega Man games, right down to the difficulty. Throughout the game the difficulty of the game ramps up as one may expect from an NES game. Sure, the Easy mode can be talked for granted when gameplay is made a comfortable stroll through the levels (Checkpoints and health relievers are plentiful). But if you are looking for a more authentic oldschool experience, Hard mode is there. The enemy variety isn’t really to Mega Man‘s extent, but it is enough for Open Season to keep you on your toes.
If there’s anything I have to pick at, it may be the relatively short length and some of the bosses. Admittedly, I wasn’t too fond of a couple of the bosses. It felt like their patterns were more on the half-baked side of things. For the former, there are a total of seven levels. As much as I didn’t want to compare Open Season to Mega Man yet again, I can’t help but point out that even the average title in that series featured more levels than this.
That isn’t to say those cons should deter any interest in Open Season. It’s overall a very enjoyable game that I’m sure any platforming fan is bound to have some fun with. That being said, in this day and age the game is super inexpensive to boot. There are copies online that cost less than four dollars – shipping included. So if you have a few digital bucks to spare, you know what to do.