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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Game Boy
Take 2 Interactive
GENRE: Puzzle
September 30, 2001
 Written by Thomas Wilde  on November 30, 2001

Review: It's a lot like Metal Gear Solid 2 only without the action, the visual intensity and it is a puzzle game on the Game Boy Advance.

In the tradition of The Adventures of Lolo and Kwirk the Chilled Tomato, the Game Boy Advance brings us Tang Tang. This is another installment in the long-running "puzzle games inspired by acid flashbacks" genre. I refuse to believe that anyone could come up with a game like this sober.

As one of four different-colored little spaceman guys (they look like Dig Dug and those goofy jumpsuited guys from the old Intel commercials had a kid) you'll set forth upon a mission of dubious merit. In each level, you must collect a number of power crystals to escape. To get to the crystals, you'll usually have to break through walls, while dodging spiked balls and monsters.

Your main tool in Tang Tang is the ability to create blocks. With a touch of the B button, you can make a new block directly in front of you or destroy a block that was already there. Using this power, and your character's somewhat anemic jumping ability you just might be able to figure out a way to get the crystals, avoid the monsters, and get to the exit gate.

By the way, good luck avoiding those monsters. Tang Tang's most lovable trait, from the point of view of a jaded lifelong video game player, is that it's unapologetically difficult. Jumps are unforgiving, one hit's enough to kill you, there's very little room to dodge, and you can only manipulate blocks to use as weapons. You have three lives and three continues. Finally, when you run out of lives and continues that's the end and you are sent back to the beginning of the game.

I mentioned The Adventures of Lolo above but after sober reflection Tang Tang doesn't remind me of that so much as it reminds me of Bubble Bobble. You have multiple paths to your goal, and the game is decidedly more action-oriented than Lolo ever was. On the other hand, the action emphasizes blocking in and avoiding enemies, as opposed to destroying them in a climactic sudsy apocalypse. The end result is a blend of the two.

My only problems with Tang Tang really reflect more on the hardware then the game itself. Attempting to play it on the GBA is like watching hockey on a two-inch screen. Everything in Tang Tang is tiny. You really need optimal lighting conditions to enjoy Tang Tang. Actually, you need that lighting to play it at all. If you're a big puzzle fan, you may want to hold off on this one until the rumored backlit GBA comes out, if it ever does.

Bottom Line
If you're not a puzzle fan, feel free to skip Tang Tang. It's a welcome throwback to the old NES days but as a direct result of that it feels dated. With the added attraction of the graphical problems inherent in the GBA, Tang Tang sinks like a rock.

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