Shark Tale is a charming tale of a loud-mouthed fish with delusions of grandeur who meets a vegetarian shark (Lenny) who just wants to live in peace; they help each other out, hilarity and shenanigans ensue.  Animated feature films tend to spawn a lot of merchandising, and DreamWorks’s latest foray into CG animated kiddy flicks is no different.  A video game based on the license was inevitable, but does it hold the same appeal as the movie? The game’s sprite based graphics are decent, even for a GBA.  Characters are as they look in the movie, and animations are smooth and clean.  Backgrounds are colorful and nicely detailed with animated bubbles occasionally floating by as would be expected in an underwater environment.  As you progress through levels, the story is moved along by still slideshows and text dialogue.  All in all, not too shabby considering the limitations of the platform. If any of you have seen the movie, then you are aware of the ‘delightful soundtrack’, boasting such gems as MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”, and Fat Boys’ ‘Wipe Out”.  This, of course, carries over to the games, but here is distinctively less annoying than in it’s console brethren (however I’m not sure if that’s just because the GBA has smaller speakers.)  Actually, there is less of the early nineties pop chart embarrasments, and more custom generic Caribbean noodling, which is fine by me. There are a few sound effects and the occasional “ow!”, but nothing that really stands out. Controls are basic, completely ignoring the shoulder buttons and sticking with ‘A’, ‘B’, and the direction pad.  For the side scrolling sections of the game, controls consist primarily of hitting ‘A’ for speed and ‘B’ for jump.  The rhythm stages have you hitting sequences of the same buttons, and for fighting A and B let you kick and jump.  Basically, the controls are really easy, but don’t really go much further than that.

While primarily a side-scroller, Shark Tale mixes it up every few levels with a rhythm stage or a fighting stage.  The side scrolling parts are what you would expect- get from point A to point B, dodge obstacles, pick up some coins, and beat up some thugs along the way.  Occasionally you’ll pick up some projectile weapons that don’t really make things any easier or harder and come off as rather superfluous.  Some levels are timed, which basically results in a button mash fest.


 


The rhythm stages are very much like they are in the console version, and thankfully end rather quickly.  Fighting was actually the most enjoyable mode, with kung-fu like flipper kicks and slaps.  It struck me as the most polished feature of the game.


 

As the game progressed, levels got a little more difficult, but nothing that even a casual gamer couldn’t handle.  I would say that it was actually pretty well suited to kids- not too hard and not too boring.

Shark Tale fans might feel compelled to replay through the game, but I doubt anyone else would.  The game is rather short as well, and can be completed in just a few hours. You can always go back and try to collect all of the tokens and unlock more mini-games, and you can go back to any of the stages you already completed at will, but unless you are really into it, I don’t see why you would bother.  Shark Tale also keeps track of scores for some of these mini games, so go ahead, go back and try to beat that high score!

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