Store shelves are full of video games inspired by popular movies. Although many of these products find a large initial audience when a movie opens, the effects of the publicity often wear off quickly as buyers discover that their favorite new game is light on playability and is little else than a tie-in meant to make a quirck buck. You've probably played a few of these stinkers before: They're the games with 12 or 13 side-scrolling levels, combat that hardly reflects the character's special abilities, cheap boss battles, and flat artwork that's well behind the curve in terms of what the platform is capable of. While The Incredible Hulk for the Game Boy Advance isn't perfect by any stretch, it avoids many of the pitfalls found in other movie tie-ins. Furthermore, it's an enjoyable game that accurately represents the attitude and actions of everyone's favorite green monster.
The Hulk mixes it up with a group of soldiers and an attack helicopter.
The story takes place one year after the events in the movie, and it finds Bruce Banner on the run from the US military. In the early stages of the game, a mysterious villain known as the Leader becomes aware of Bruce's green-skinned alter ego and sends his army after Bruce. Your job is to help the Hulk escape the military, defeat the Leader's army, and eventually confront the Leader on his own turf. The plot is by no means original, but it's helped along by a healthy smattering of transition sequences drawn in Marvel's familiar comic book style.
Unlike typical comic- or movie-themed games, The Incredible Hulk isn't a brief experience. The cartridge clocks in at a whopping 33 levels and offers an equal distribution of fighting-, puzzle-, and survival-based missions. There are many opportunities to scuffle with soldiers, tanks, missile launchers, and helicopters. Hulk begins each level with a small repertoire of punches, but you'll gain new attacks and combinations as his anger state builds. Anger plays a significant role in the game. Hulk regains stamina by fighting enemies and destroying scenery. Conversely, when there's nothing happening onscreen, Hulk's stamina gradually diminishes. In this fashion, you're compelled to play aggressively.
Many levels are set up as puzzles or survival situations. In some areas, you need to locate and destroy generators so the Hulk can travel safely through corridors fortified with electrical flooring or steam vents. Many areas contain hidden passageways that you can discover by punching cracked walls. Hulk has the ability to lift up and carry small objects, such as barrels and crates, that you can toss at enemies or use to trigger floor switches. Sometimes, the only way to complete a level is to dash to the exit and avoid conflict. Confrontations with bosses are difficult and time-consuming, but not because they're set up unfairly. Each boss has a half dozen or so attacks and a single specific weakness that you need to exploit over and over again in order to whittle away his stamina. Since you have to work to defeat each boss, victory is all the more satisfying.