Reviewed: December 13, 2006
Released: November 14, 2006
Magic, sword fighting, a fantastic storyline and of course dragons; you get all this in the small package of Eragon for the Gameboy Advance. Eragon has a very good story behind it and with the Gameboy Advance version Vivendi has gotten everything right. The gameplay is right on with the fantastic storyline and you will not be able to put this role-playing adventure game down.
You will follow the story of Eragon and his new found friend Saphira the dragon. Meet his new comrades in arms against the dark shade Durza and evil King Galbatorix; Brom the old wizened story teller, Ayra the elf guard of the dragon egg, Murtagh the orphan with a troubled past and Angela an herbalist witch. You get to play each of these characters at one time or another throughout your quest to avenge your uncleís death and your hometowns razing by the Raízac.
You start off Eragon by fighting as Ayra and a couple of her fellow elves trying to protect the egg of Saphira. When this fails and you send the egg somewhere for protection the game runs through the introduction of Eragon and his first companions in the town of Caravell. You follow through various changes of partners in the adventure by visiting different towns or areas. Your dragon cannot enter some towns as it would be pretty obvious that youíre the dragon rider the bad guys are all looking for so they have him hide out and other characters often join your party in the town views.
You will follow the exploits of first Eragon, Saphira and Brom from their hometown to other towns and lands where other fiercer opponents await. Without giving more of the story away it does take you through the first book of the series and follows the story line pretty closely. Eragon for the GBA has used pretty much all the same elements of the story but in a very concise and understandable way to make the adventure fun and rewarding.
There was no part of the story that I did not understand and only a few areas that I was at a loss to follow because I missed the story on the screen. They have used the role-playing levels, abilities and combat to create a very good game and one that is very worth getting. Even when I missed something it became pretty obvious with a little searching around what I needed to do. The story is not hard to follow and where you go is blocked if you havenít gotten that far or if youíre further along and try to go back.
There are two main screens you play on during your visit to the lands of Alagaesia, the map view and the combat scene. The map shows the land you are traveling through or the cities you visit and has one character representing your party of players. You can see things like towns, rivers and buildings depending on the area you are in. On the map view the groups of other people running around that you can join in combat will try to run at you while you can sometimes outrun them or avoid them with some fancy footwork.
When you canít avoid enemies you will go to the combat screen and each character of your party will be shown on the right side of the screen while your enemies are on the left. You will have up to six enemies on the screen at once that you will be fighting against. The combat occurs by the fastest character on the screen going first or by the weapon type such as archers usually starting off any combat. From there it is a turn based combat with each side trying to be the first to bring the others hit points down to a level where they pass out and finish the combat sequence.
You fight using the weapons you have altered in towns or using your pocket blacksmith shop or potions and magic until either youíre defeated or you vanquish your enemies. You receive experience in combat toward higher levels so you can use your abilities like endurance and weapons skill for better combat. Your tracking skills of the hunter ability will be helpful in tracking thieves or following others that have left tracks for you to follow. Your magic abilities will help you in combat as well as in finding out things during your adventure.
You can change your equipment, which you gain from combat or find in chests during your adventures on your pause menu. You will also be able to save your game, make herbal potions, fix weapons and refocus your abilities from this menu. Each player has attributes and special attacks that they will get better at by raising levels and training. The higher level and further into the adventure you get the more special attacks you will learn.
You will also use a version of the map view to visit towns and a few other places where you will have goals and objectives for your adventures. The main story line of a boy and his dragon still holds true but in the Gameboy version they have brought most of the story into the game in a clear-cut way that you can understand as long as you read the little statements when people are talking on the screen.
For the Gameboy Advance and the Gameboy Advance SP this is about as good as the graphics will ever get. They have used the sprites and animations of combat in a turn-based style so they donít have too much going on at the same time. You have the Overworld map that reminds me very much of some of the Zelda games with your typical little mountains, rivers and such for you to explore.
The combat includes little animations for magic, sword hits and your characters stumbling back from the hits. You have some adjustments on the screen for Gamma and brightness but I found I could see everything quite clearly on both Gameboy versions. The small word screens and characters of who is talking looked good for the GBA and there are a few special areas that they did very well with like the battle at Varden near the end of the game.
The sound in Eragon has some background theme music playing during the game and some sound effects during the combat scenes. The sound effects and the background music are pretty generic and you have adjustments for the volume of each. Again on the Gameboy they worked well and had no problems but you can only get so good with such a small speaker.
It has taken me about twenty hours of gameplay to get most of the way through the game. I have still to finish the final battle but I will venture forth and press on. If you like the Gameboy and any kind of adventure type games this is sure to be a hit with you. You have the usual level system that is typical of role-playing games that will take some time to bring your current characters up to a decent level. I found that some wandering around and just getting the characters some experience before they confront the bosses in some areas is a better idea. There are side missions that are not part of the main story but will help get your characters up in levels and experience.
One that I found added a unique puzzle to the game was to help Eragon learn to read with a puzzle involving some waifs of one town and sentence building. It was silly and very easy but added a little extra to the game that I found charming and often missing in many games. This version of Eragon seems to have been completely made and finished with so many of the parts thought through and made very well that the other versions seem to be missing.
There was plenty to do with the main objectives of your characters and you can even go back through the game to try your hand at all the various parts that you could not try the first time around due to your characters not having enough levels and experience. They have added plenty of extra content in every part of the game for you to try your hand at a lot of level gaining before continuing on for many more hours of gameplay.
Eragon for the Gameboy Advanced is a great role playing game and follows the story of the Eragon book pretty well. I really enjoyed this and will be completing it even though I have not finished the end battle and can even see myself picking this up again and starting over. This is one game that was a joy to play and review even though my kids where constantly bugging me to play it themselves. I guess that shows how well liked Eragon for the GBA is for many age groups.