Review by Retro
"Overpopulation of enemies and unfair bosses are the only things that keep this adventure from being awesome"
They say that good things come to those who wait. I had a certain parent that never played many video games at all, but for some reason, she always wanted to have a say in which ones I purchased. It wasn't because she was worried about protecting me from animated violence, but because she enjoyed watching me kick ass in games. One particular title that caught her eye from the very start was Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World. I begged to differ; it didn't look very fun to me, but she just wouldn't give up. Seeing that I wasn't going to buy it with my own money, she bought it for me at Christmas.
I'm actually glad that she did.
Meet Boomer, a small dinosaur (he resembles a dragon, but he doesn't spit flames, so I'll go with calling him a dinosaur) that has a fetish for digging so much that you'd think he was of the canine species. In this, his very own adventure, he'll be doing a lot of digging. Each regular (non-boss) level is set above-ground in a maze of barriers that are barely wide enough for Boomer to fit through. All Boomer can do is move around horizontally and vertically through these mazes as he searches for the level's cross. Every level has a flight of stairs that are behind a couple of locked doors. Only by having the cross in hand can Boomer pass through these impenetrable doors and walk up the stairs to the next stage. But first he has to find it.
There are no houses, buildings, etc. to walk through, just the outdoor mazes that are all set on the ground's surface. So, every bit of the ground is dirt. Somewhere underground is the valuable cross. With this much land and dirt around Boomer (the levels are all so big that none of them can fit onto one screen), digging in exactly the right spot to successfully find the cross seems about as easy as hunting down a needle in a haystack. This is why there are various items that can be found and then used in Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World. Upon collecting a clock, you won't be able to look at it and tell what time it is, but you can make Boomer stand in place and then press B to have the hands point in the direction that the cross is hidden at. Likewise, a certain type of detector beeps when you're in close proximity to the cross.
But that's just scratching the surface. Unfortunately, Boomer is slower than the average dinosaur, and as much as he loves digging, he's not too speedy at that either. A pair of roller skates and a shovel would come in handy, should they be found. Soon, Boomer runs up on a bone or boomerang that seems to have already been dug up. Both can be thrown, of course.....but what could they be used for? Want to take a guess?
Yeah, that's it, enemies. In every level is a flight of stairs that comes from the underground. The subterranean world is home to several interesting creatures that serve as opponents to Boomer's adventure. From start to finish, the most abundant of the enemies are crawling worms and black creatures that wear a shell on their back that seems to be too big for them. Why would a dinosaur be afraid of worms and small marine animals? Well, as harmless as these itty-bitty worms and weird-looking shell creatures appear to be, they can kill Boomer in just one touch.
Having no apparent fighting skills on hand, Boomer must use the weapons and his favorite art against these fearless foes. A bone or boomerang usually works in exterminating enemies, but if you don't have any of them, they won't do much good. This is the other way in which the art of digging can be of use. When an enemy is approaching and you have nowhere to run, dig a hole in the place where you anticipate their going. If you have the hole completely dug (if you don't then it'll only slow them down for a few seconds) and they fall into it, a nice plummeting sound effect will be heard and you'll see them stuck inside trying to get out. If you're feeling mean enough, hurry back to that hole that now holds an enemy and cover it up with dirt, thus burying and killing the mean critter. Don't think for one second that Boomer is immune to falling into these traps as well, though.
Boomer isn't the only living creature in the vicinity that enjoys collecting items. Each species of enemy can also pick up any item they choose to and carry it around or bury it at will. Since the cross is one of these ''items,'' this aspect makes Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World all the more compelling. After they walk around several seconds, an enemy will stop in place and dig for a few seconds. When they do this, they might have just buried an item underground, but then again, they might still have it. Sometimes, while stopping in place, the item that an enemy is currently carrying will pop up into the air and then fall back into their possession. This can be a way for you to see with your own eyes what an adversary has. If it's something you need, like an egg (extra life!) or the cross, then you need to steal that item!
For about the first seven stages, things seem to be going well in Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World. The challenge seems to be evenly balanced, and the game, though strange, is actually fun. Level eight isn't a level at all; it's the first boss fight! Instead of the typical maze, boss confrontations take place in open areas that are nearly absent of barriers. An oversized goblin named Axolotl sports a pair of shades and he just can't quit hopping around. Upon seeing Boomer trespass on his tract of land, Axolotl hops in place for a few seconds and then bounces toward Boomer, with the intent of squashing him like an ant. All poor Boomer can do is run for his life and try to dig up bones to throw at Axolotl. Unfortunately, this very first battle brings a fundamental flaw of Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World into sharp focus. Boomer is slow! And he can't dig fast enough! Yes, you can find skates and/or a shovel for a much needed speed boost, but you're lucky if you find them!
It's not just Axolotl that is at fault. All but one (the short, fat walrus-looking creature that stomps the ground, forming temporary cracks in it) of the bosses are too hard for their own good. Whether it's Axolotl, who just jumps too dang quickly, a porcupine that shoots homing needles at you, or one of the other difficult meanies of Asmik world, the bosses just aren't fair. Even worse, once the second world, Bluten, begins, the enemies in the normal levels start to become much too numerous. Since much faster adversaries, such as trotting dogs who always seem happy, and living shovels that have a liking for scraping Boomer to death start appearing once you get so far, an overbearing number of enemies isn't right. You'll find yourself being surrounded by enemies on all sides, and unless you have a shovel or skates, you might as well just stand and watch Boomer die. Oh yeah, I didn't mention that there's also a time limit of only about 200 seconds for each level!
Thank God for passwords! If you don't eat for awhile, you develop a desire for food. After playing Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World for awhile, you'll develop a desire for passwords! No continues are in sight. Using the various passwords (it gives you one when you reach a boss or certain level) allows you to traverse through the game's levels. Without them, you wouldn't get far at all.
While using the passwords to experience a sampling of environments and bosses that lie further along in your quest, you'll notice that the graphics don't change much at all. Barriers and walls change textures once in a blue moon, but everything else stays the same. Boomer and the other characters look nice enough and have decent animations, but there's nothing about them that will catch your eye. The sounds are all fluid and seem to fit with the game's personality. While digging and hearing that effect while watching Boomer stare at the ground and hastily move his feet back and forth, that sound just seems to be right on target. On the other hand, the music stands out a bit, mostly because of its pitch. You know how you've wished that your Game Boy could be just a bit louder (without headphones of course) with some games? You won't have that problem with this one. Since you hear the same track several levels in a row, some of the music can become a bit annoying due to its repetition, but most of it is very nice. Just wait until you reach Bluten and hear that upbeat carnival-sounding tune for the first time!
Boomer is a cinch to control, except for one thing. It would've been nice to be able to move diagonally in the wide open boss stages. Everything else about moving around, using weapons, etc., will cause you no problems. Unfortunately, you can't control how populated the enemies become, how much time is thrown onto the clock, or how unfair the bosses are. If there were a way to control those things, Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World would be one of the best Game Boy games. Its presentation is great, and it manages to be very original while also proving to be memorable and fun. It's definitely better than average and it borders along the edges of greatness in most respects, so an overall score of 7 seems fair enough.
Looking for a fun, original game to add to your portable collection? Get Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World! Just be prepared to look up some passwords.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/22/01, Updated 06/24/03
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