Sometimes it gets me down to see the lack of comic book and super hero games coming to market, I’m talking physical games here, ones you buy in a store not apps you download on a phone and spend hours grinding on for nothing. There are others times though, when I play a game like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on the DS, when I realize just how lucky we are that they don’t really make games like this; To think that someone would let this game come to market and ask someone to pay for it. I consider myself grateful that this isn’t the type of game that would come out nowadays that I would have to pay money for, that I can score it for cheap as a curiosity to review it. If you haven’t yet figured it out, I didn’t care for this game too much.
I don’t need to get into much story details here as it has the same structure as the PS2/Wii/Xbox 360 game, which was a poor retelling of the film’s plot extended with some extra villains for good measure. There’s no cut-scenes in this version, just some poorly drawn still pictures complete with text ripped straight from the games found on other consoles.
The first Fantastic Four handheld game let the player juggle anywhere from 2-4 members of the team at the same time, and it didn’t really work out that well. It was in the second Game Boy Advance game, Fantastic Four: Flame On, where things got a little more manageable as it focused on one character. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on the DS, hailing from the first movie games developer and the Wii/PS2 SKU of this game, Seven Studios, chose to break up the game into stages where you control only one character at a time, but overall the differences between the most of the team members are negligible. You play as three-quarters of the team in a 2-D side-scrolling game where you’ll hit some enemies, perform some light plat-forming and collect crystals until you reach the end and pass the baton on to another character. The Invisible Woman really is the only character who stands out here in that instead of jumping, you have to hold the B-button down to make fly on a platform, and this just makes the game easier than what it already is.
When playing as the Human Torch the game is the most fitting as for the first time the character is more than another beat-em-up character. You play as the Torch in a 2-D vertical space-shooting game that should be interesting, but unfortunately isn’t. There’s no obstacles to dodge or terrain to work around, you really just have to go back and forth shooting enemies until you reach a stages end. Sometimes the Human Torch is even substituted out for the Fantasticar for some equally uninspiring shootings stages.
What really is the weakest element of this version of ROSS is the boss “fights”, and I put that word in quotations for a reason. Each of the main bosses: Super Skrull, Terrax and Doctor Doom, play out the exact same way. The Fantastic Four is on the bottom screen lined up from left-to-right facing up, while the boss character is on the top screen facing down and you basically play an enhanced version of pong. You don’t move your characters at all, you have to bounce back projectiles at a boss by tap tapping bullets, multi-tapping bigger objects, drawing circles around objects or scratching back and forth on the screen to shield your team. This is the most derivative, lazy, first generation use of the DS hardware and it makes some of the most deadly foes of the Fantastic Four huge pushovers.
One thing I will give this game credit for, even more so than the movie it’s based on or the sixth generation console game, is that it actually features Galactus, and not a cloud, but actual giant purple and blue Galactus. The fight is nothing special: It plays the same as the Human Torch and Fantasticar stages which is to say it’s a 2-D horizontal shooter where you play as the Silver Surfer, and actually, it has the same issue as the NES game where the Surfer is too big to avoid bullets, but I still appreciated having Galactus around nonetheless.
If you’re looking for a decent Fantastic Four game on the go, your best bet is still the second game starring the Human Torch, Flame On. ROSS is one of the worst handheld games I’ve played in quite some time that not only struggles to make a play length of even a couple of hours, but makes a mockery of both the team and the villains they face. Fan or not, there’s no reason to pick up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for the DS.