The “Incredible Hulk” for GameCube is the stupidest video game I have ever played.
Allow me to expound. I recently took some time out of my busy schedule of “RBI Baseball” and “Tecmo Super Bowl” – two classics on the only real video game system ever released, the original Nintendo Entertainment System – to navigate the maze of buttons that is a GameCube controller and give the “Incredible Hulk” video game a whirl, hoping that it, like the movie on which it’s based, would feature an abundance of Jennifer Connelly or, inexplicably, Shakira. Sadly, it boasted of neither. In fact, the game contained very little of note at all, though I’m sure that, were it on the video game elementary school playground, it would attempt to boast of unfounded things, because, I mean, Hulk’s big. You know how it is.
Now, I haven’t done much research on the game here, because I figure that if video games exist for one reason, it’s to quell any form of research. Thus, I’m not entirely sure what the objective of the game is except presumably not to suck, a charge at which it fails miserably. Regardless, I approached the game blindly and left wishing I was indeed blind.
The game begins with Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk at his radiation-ravaged desert test site, whereupon a conveniently endless supply of military folk converge, seemingly to provide you with something to smash. You quickly master the myriad attacks of the Hulk – many of which are, admittedly, neat – by hurling and breaking everything in sight, grinning gleefully all the while. Little do you know, tender naif, that you have, in essence, already mastered the entire game.
After a while you advance to the next stage and, following a mighty state-spanning leap, the Hulk finds himself atop a building, or something, and more smashing ensues. Occasionally the opportunity presents itself to jump from building to building, another novelty that the game soon manages to make insufferably monotonous – after the dozenth or so such leap you discover that, much to your chagrin, you can’t fall off the rooftops to your death, and neither can the video game character you’re controlling.
An indeterminate amount of time smashing and jumping later, you finally beat that level and return to human form as Bruce Banner. Inexplicably, Bruce’s leg muscles seem to have completely atrophied, as he has lost the ability to jump or even move really quickly, though he can bust out a fairly nimble tumble on command. It is at this point, as you maneuver Bruce around ominous science labs – ’cause he’s a scientist, y’know? – that the game’s most agonizing feature is revealed.
Evidently – and this should have been assumed, based on the ‘break things’ premise of the game – ol’ Bruce has little faith in the intelligence of we, the puppeteering public, as we navigate the puzzlingly dangerous laboratories. Therefore, every now and then – and a very frequent now and then – Bruce’s haunting voice chimes in with advice such as, “I shouldn’t attack that security guard… I’m only a scientist.” Golly, thanks Bruce. It took only a handful of Bruce’s helpful hints before I began engaging in the exact activity that they warned against, and smiled sinisterly as feeble scientist Bruce Banner took a nice throttling at the hands of a nameless security guard, who we’ll dub “Ted.” Moments later, when Bruce gets to a door guarded with a numerical keypad, he deems it necessary to explain to the gamer at hand just how to solve the puzzle, even though the solution is right above the keypad. Grimacing in agony, I wished aloud that Ted would come back to further damage Bruce. Fortunately, a large dog soon took care of the task, and I retired from the game. Forever. For-ever. For-ev-er.
It’s not that the graphics and sound weren’t impressive, because they were. It’s just that the game sucked. It ranks as a typical “beat stuff up” game, and, from what I could tolerate, it seems to rarely progress beyond that point. Even the strategic elements of the game, such as the keypad puzzles Bruce needs to complete, are demeaningly easy, and I’m confident that even a handless five-year-old would agree that the game is dumb and monotonously basic.
Perhaps the game gets more interesting if you can tolerate mediocrity long enough to progress that far. Me, I just don’t have that kind of patience. I mean, I don’t ask that much from my video games – hell, “RBI Baseball” consisted of two control pad buttons and a handful of pixels moving abruptly across the screen. But it had spirit, and dammit, that’s just something the Hulk game lacks.
Well, that and Jennifer Connelly.
Janowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.