Review: Unlike Tomb Raider, to beat this game you have to use her wits and not her... (cough--cough).
The early gaming era didn't feature women in videogames like we see them today. After the release (and subsequent success) of titles such as Tomb Raider, a small movement took effect where more developers decided to place female characters in leading roles. While most chose to emphasize the sexy characteristics of women, there have been several that focus on the more discrete fashion of balancing beauty and bravery. This is pretty much the approach TDK has taken in creating its warrior princess, Lady Sia.
Equipped with a sword and able to perform magic on their enemies, players must journey through 36 different maps within four worlds in order to defend her land now filled with the villainous beastmen. The opening menus offer several languages to choose from and three slots to save your progress. Following this, players are treated to a movie explaining the storyline of the game with a cutscene that illustrates our warrior princess being captured by an enemy and tossed into a dungeon. Afterwards, she is set free by a mysterious individual and is able to recapture her sword and ring to begin her journey to whip out the T'soa.
Much of Lady Sia consists of jumping, climbing, and overcoming the enemies that in various ways block the goal of the level. In an attempt to keep the gameplay from becoming stale the developer utilized ladders, switches, boats, and even wells to mix some modest puzzle elements into the formula.
No matter how good each other department in a game like this is, players need to be able to execute the character's moves and perform them with ease. Fortunately for Lady Sia, the control scheme doesn't prove too difficult. However, in many instances maneuvering Sia will trigger confusion in detection between enemies and players, resulting in a loss of life. For this reason, the game won't appeal to many younger Game Boy Advance owners proving more challenging than most can handle.
There isn't much on the system that can surpass Lady Sia visually. Things looked their best from the opening cutscene and the rest of the game's graphics followed suit with excellent hand-drawn characters and backgrounds. Everything flares when movement takes place within the game's scenery, making good use of the visual capabilities that lie within the GBA. It may seem like a perfect world from the start, however problems of advancing through the levels lie within the difficulty to decipher between ledges in background scenery. Sometimes the static backgrounds blend in too well with the ledges you need to traverse and the resulting confusion can cause you to fall to your doom.
Despite this slight disorder, Lady Sia remains bright and colorful through each of the worlds, and the hand-drawn aspects do in fact give the game an edge over other blotchy and blurry titles available for the platform. Though it doesn't match the visual power Lady Sia holds, the audio contained in the game fits the style nicely. With various instruments providing the up beat tunes from the first to last levels, music seems almost par and the sound effects follow close in quality.
Many unfair aspects of the gameplay hinder the enjoyment of completing Lady Sia. While I already mentioned that the collision detection and false ledges remain a bit of a problem, the health system haunts the game, and the tendency to fall off edges makes matters even worse. During a sword combo, Sia will thrust forward, and if this is anywhere near a cliff, chances are she's doomed before you know what happened. As far as the health system works, when a player dies and restarts from a checkpoint within the level, instead of replenishing any lost health, the heart will only be filled to the amount that remained when the checkpoint area was first crossed.