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Shark Tale Package Art
Vicarious Visions

Shark Tale

I am a movie fan before I am a gamer. That said, I usually jump at the chance to play a video game based on one of the latest blockbusters. Most of them are mediocre at best, but it's still fun to live out the big screen adventures from the comfort of my home. And this is the best thing going for Activision's Game Boy Advance adaptation of Shark Tale, based on the Dreamworks animated fish film. The game's story matches up almost perfectly with the events of the actual movie. Players get to recreate all their favorite aquatic scenes through a nice variety of gameplay modes. It's almost as much fun as watching the movie. Almost.


The gameplay visuals are disappointing. In a computer animated film, the fine details are often the most interesting things on the screen. These details are not easily captured on a handheld, but the developers certainly try. The result is a cluttered and distracting environment, where objects are sloppy and difficult to distinguish. I wish they had gone with a more cartoonish approach for the handheld version of Shark Tale, one that allowed the bright colors and unique visuals to jump out of the water and off of the screen.

Between levels, the story is progressed with short cutscenes comprised of several still frames from the film. These look amazing. I found myself gawking at these still rather than progressing the action forward. But why would I look at some simple still frames when I could just go out and watch the movie?


The film boasts an impressive cast that includes Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, and Robert DeNiro. The soundtrack features artists such as Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ludacris. This vocal talent is a huge draw for the movie, but it's all lost on the Game Boy Advance. This isn't a surprise, but it certainly drowns some of the fun out of the experience.

Once again, the audio quality can be split into two separate categories. The songs playing over the cutscenes are upbeat and dynamic. The tracks running during gameplay are just bothersome. Something more subdued would have been appreciated. Thankfully, they have added an option for volume control, and the Game Boy Advance does have a volume dial. I needed both.


Shark Tale is primarily a nautical platformer, so naturally our fish (Oscar the Sharkslayer) can move freely in any direction he pleases. However, I found this freedom to be restricted by tight controls. Put plainly, the D-pad sucks. Had the controls been more sensitive, Oscar's movement would have been more fluid, players would have gotten a better representation of the underwater environment, and my hands would hurt much less. This problem is overcome by using the Game Boy Player and a joystick, but that shouldn't be necessary.

But Shark Tale is not just a collection of sidescrolling levels. Other missions play out like mini games. Tapping the A button repeatedly. Keeping the rhythm of a song. Racing a seahorse around an underwater track. I applaud this variety. It's a much welcomed change to one identical level after another.




Even with a pleasant gameplay variety, the Game Boy Advance adaptation of Shark Tale is just average. Nothing stands out as being extraordinary, while the negative aspects still linger in my mind. Those looking for hours of deep-sea excitement should pass. In addition to the problems I've already mentioned, the game is short and not too challenging. Kids may get a kick out of controlling Oscar, but most others should be weary before diving into this one. Given the choice, you're better off paying $10 to watch the movie than slamming down $30 to interact with it on a handheld.

final score 6.0/10

Staff Avatar Phil Stauskas
Staff Profile | Email
"Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative."

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