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Platform

GameBoy Advance

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

South Peak Interactive

 

Developer

Orbital Media

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

October 2006

 

 

- Great entry-level RPG for the kids

- Bright environments

- Just enough challenge to make the player think

- There's something fun about mixing potions

 

 

- Older gamers will tire quickly of the rehash of role-playing game conventions

- Relatively short

 

 

Review: Golden Sun (GBA)

Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

Review: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (GBA)

 

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Juka and the Monophonic Menace

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

The title is quirky enough to sway a possible player that A) this is one of those crazy Japanese RPGs with poorly translated dialogue or B) a bottom of the bargain bin shovelware destined to be forgotten.  Juka and the Monophonic Menace is neither.

 

This is a good thing.

 

juka and the monophonic menace          juka and the monophonic menace

 

It seems that Juka's world is under threat by an old enemy, the Monophonic Menace, last of the Dark Alchemists, returning from an extended exile.  The Menace has its eyes on conquering the land and Juka stands alone, etc. etc.  We've saved the world enough times to be all too familiar with this plot device.

 

What will immediately chaff experienced gamers is that Juka doesn't really kill anything.  Sure a few enemies go "pop!" but mostly Juka puts them to sleep with a well-aimed potion and walks past them.  Enemies that can't be hit with a potion spew colored shapes at Juka, which he must swipe with his Sound Staff until he has collected the right sequence of shapes -- handily displayed at the bottom of 

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the screen -- and then fire a shot back at the colored, shape-spewing creatures. POP!

 

Juka spends a lot of time concocting spells, none of which can be concocted without first learning them in-game.  This means that experimentation is nonexistent; even if you combine the proper ingredients, if you don't have spell on your inventory list, it won't be successful.  Every bit of shrubbery and tree

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can be shaken to loose fruit and with these pieces of fruit Juka are mixed together to make the spells.

 

Though Juka and the Monophonic Menace is decidedly an entry-level role-playing game (and a likeable one at that), aimed at the younger crowd -- the Credits thank Ramsay Elementary School -- it's not without its own frustrations, for young and old alike.

 

juka and the monophonic menace          juka and the monophonic menace

 

Juka's map is next to useless.  Though it shows a large swathe of land it's not detailed enough to provide much useful information.  I wandered for extended periods of time just trying to figure out where the hell I was.  And as bright and colorful as the game is, the perspective sometimes skews the ability to maneuver quickly and efficiently in the environment.  I've always liked the Zelda approach to this -- a strictly top-down view.  Developer Orbital Media, taking cues from its own Scurge: Hive, uses a 3/4 view that lends some depth to the art design but it also means you'll miss paths to the next area if you're not paying close attention.

 

Even with its problems, retreading of standard role-playing conventions, and its relatively short length, Juka and the Monophonic Menace managed to change my preconceived notions about it.  It's not a "AAA" title but it's one I can highly recommend to the under 12 age group.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(February 1, 2007)

 

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