GBA REVIEW: HUGO: THE EVIL MIRROR

In the game, Hugo: The Evil Mirror, Hugo is not the name of the evil mirror. In fact the evil mirror is only a device used to base a narrow gameplay element on. It only appears as part of the story and not as a playable or interactive component of the game. For all intents and purposes this game should have just been called "Hugo the Troll" to save us all this confusion.

Hugo, as you already know is a troll. Although I've never heard of him, neither have a lot of North American gamers. He's popular, but thankfully he doesn't have his own generic, Saturday morning cartoon here. Hugo is a Dutch creation and he's enjoyed success in Denmark for a number of years. Though he's come to the new country this immigrant finds himself up against a lot of competition. His popularity won't be working for him here. He'll be judged on the merit of the gameplay and nothing else - the way it should always be.

If I had to base Hugo's character on how he's presented in this game I would have to say that he's got the depth of a cereal box mascot. After every level he does this little dance that is so annoying I can hardly keep from using a few choice swear words from describing it. The animation is the same each time that it really burns an engram (a Scientology reference) in my psyche. Are the Dutch trying to brainwash us and rule the world? Have they finally had enough of being so bloody neutral? Maybe, like the Evil Mirror, they've finally cracked. That's what wearing wooden Nikes will do to you over time.

From level to level you won't find much variety in the gameplay. Like the soup at a buffet there's not much spice to it - and there's no way you can add any after the fact.

Hugo is an action platformer with deep arcade roots - old school arcade roots. While you jump around from platform to platform, you turn enemies into frozen cubes which renders them immobile. Eventually then will thaw if you leave them alone and continue pestering you but there's no fun in leaving them varmints alone. You can pick them up and drop them from a platform which will instantly destroy them, or you can jump on them and shatter them into icy shards. They will remain frozen as long as you carry them. To clear the level you have to plug up the portal to keep them from respawning.

You can combine cubes to create bigger and heavier blocks in which the rewards will be much more substantial although oftentimes there will be a beast unleashed from the larger blocks which you'll have to confront. If you destroy it you'll receive goodies such as power-ups and a key that will allow you to save the game and everything you've collected up to that point. Not being allowed to save at anytime is another annoying aspect of the game as it forces you to keep playing until you find a key, least you shut the game down and lose everything beyong the last save.

Trapped in a mirror by an evil witch who shatters it into three pieces, Hugo relies on his kids to locate the pieces which are scattered throughout the Tricky Troll Forest. Each of the three pieces is an excuse for Hugo to explore three different areas. There are 60 levels in all with platforms, puzzles and shooting. The premise is easy and straightforward. It's aimed at younger kids although most will tend to find it boring after a while, if they even get past the first five levels which are very simple and slow going.

Presented in a light-hearted manner, Hugo is a likeable character. There's no graphic violence or terrifying situations which makes this game suitable for young kids - and Von. The sprites are decent and some of the backgrounds have a nice folk-art look to them but overall the game looks and plays dated.

It shouldn't take more than a couple of afternoons to get through this game. With no multi-player and few unlockables there's not much reason to play through the game again except to beat your high score. Consider renting Hugo before you buy.

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System: GBA
Dev: ITE
Pub: Namco
Release: April 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
1.0