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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King' (GBA) Review

Overall Rating

Watch Wednesday 8/13 at 11:30 p.m. and Thursday 8/14 at 2:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern.
By Justin Speer
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Buffy The Vampire Slayer (GBA)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King
Platform: GBA
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: THQ
ESRB rating: Everyone
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This week, join "X-Play" as we take a weekend trip to beautiful Sunnydale. We'll wander through the city streets after dark and take brisk hikes through the forest, so be sure to bring a comfy pair of sneakers. And be sure to bring your appetite for knowledge, 'cause we're also taking an educational trip to the museum! Later on, we can sneak into the university dorms and -- wait! Nobody said anything about vampires! Oh, Buffy! Save us! Please!

I go out walking after midnight

The life of a vampire slayer is a tedious one. While your friends are out at the black-and-white horror film festival eating their weight in popcorn covered with sumptuous golden topping, you're out on patrol. Patrols, in this game, amount to jogging through bland back alleys and drab wilderness trails and clearing out the pesky vampires as you go. You go, girl!

As a slayer, the comely Buffy is an expert in antivampiric combat training, boasting advanced martial techniques such as the deadly punch and the lethal kick. There are a few special fist and foot moves that are pulled off by quick button combinations, but they're often hard to land during fights that feel and look pretty awkward. You'll also pick up various weapons, such as a crossbow, an ax, and holy water to fling at your foes. It can be frustrating -- and monotonous -- but someone has to kill these vampires.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (GBA)

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Buffy the vampire chucker

Or do they? Typically, vampires in this town are found pacing back and forth as if they're looking for a lost contact. Buffy can simply run up to them and throw them clear off the screen. Let the next town deal with them! Or, if you really can't be bothered, you can just keep running and never look back, stopping only to attempt a clumsy jump, hit the occasional switch, and rescue some guy in a red shirt and his countless identical twins. That's it.

Between the 16 very short stages, you're treated to pretty (but repetitive) still photos of Buffy, Willow, and the gang talking about goings on about town with some snide comments thrown in. Fans might have a hard time swallowing the implausible story line, but the characters' campy banter is true to the TV show. After a short break, our heroine will remember she should be out on yet another patrol, or possibly checking into something about the resurrection of a demon king.

Stick a stake in it, it's done

With its anemic presentation, difficult jumps, and random and completely obscure puzzles, it's tough to enjoy everything else "Buffy" has to offer. If you like the show or have really low expectations, you might squeeze a few hours of enjoyment out of this unimpressive game. Otherwise, stick to the far superior "Castlevania" GBA titles for your vampire-killing needs.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King" (GBA)

Posted August 13, 2003
Modified July 30, 2003

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Wednesday 8/13
11:30 p.m. Eastern

Thursday 8/14
2:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern

Saturday 8/16
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Sunday 8/17
2 a.m. Eastern

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