"Into each generation a slayer is born--One girl, in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength,
skill and power to hunt vampires, demons and stop the spread of their evil."
That short intro from the popular TV series pretty much sums up the premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Now going on its fifth year, the series revolves around the life of teenager Buffy Summers, a former cheerleader
whose life turns upside down when it's revealed that she is the Slayer destined to fight evil. Buffy moves to Sunnydale,
a charming small town that's unfortunately also the location of the Hellmouth, a mystical gateway to Hell, which
has the unpleasant effect of attracting various forms of supernatural evil to the town itself--vampires, monsters,
demons--you name it, Sunnydale's got it.
While it seems that Buffy has her work cut out for her, Buffy possesses killer moves that would put any martial
arts expert to shame, and she's assisted by friends--affectionately called the "Scooby Gang". She's also
under the tutelage of a Watcher named Rupert Giles, a mild-mannered British chap whose primary duty is to provide
guidance and training to the Slayer.
The Game Boy Color game takes place sometime during the 4th season, as the gang is in college, and Buffy's former
boyfriend, the vampire called Angel, along with one of the Scooby Gang, Cordelia, has departed for L.A.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an action-adventure where you guide Buffy through various levels--familiar Sunnydale
locations--while doing her slaying thing; namely, fighting and killing vampires. Each level is preceded by story
interludes that feature dialogue scenes with the Scooby Gang.
As the game begins Buffy is on her nightly patrol through the cemetery, and the next day receives a call from Cordelia--Angel
had a dream involving Ethan Rayne, a former friend of Giles who occasionally makes trouble for Buffy and the gang.
It seems Ethan has acquired the Book of the Ancients, a book heavy on vampire lore, which is not good--Buffy has
been encountering increased vampire traffic lately, most of them covens not native to Sunnydale. The college is
also having its Multicultural Week celebration, and surely these cross-cultural vampires that have appeared in
Sunnydale can't be a coincidence; something sinister is afoot, and it's up to Buffy and the gang to stop it.
During the exploration levels, an arrow will appear at the top of the screen, giving you a guide on which direction
to go, while assorted enemies will rush out at you. Not to worry though--Buffy retains all her kick-ass fighting
moves in the show; she can punch, kick, do flying kicks, blocks, and rolls. Once she knocks out a vampire, she
can easily stake it, turning it into dust.
A life meter is shown at the bottom left of the screen, with a heart bar below it, while her opponent's life meter
is shown at the bottom right. Whenever her life bar runs out or if Buffy is knocked unconscious, rapidly moving
the left-right buttons will fill it up and cause her to wake up, which is essential--an unconscious Buffy will
cause any vampire nearby to suck her blood, diminishing her heart bar. Once her heart bar is reduced to zero, the
Buffy can pick up power-ups on the ground, which will heal her or give her super punch or kick abilities. In addition,
she can lift objects such as paint cans, rocks or trash cans and hurl them at a vampire, causing it to be instantly
Controls, Graphics, Sound
Buffy can be moved with the Left & Right direction pad; pressing Down
will make her crouch and pressing Up will make her jump. Punches are done with the A button while Kicks are performed
with the B button. Some moves like flying kicks can be done through button combos, and doing a high jump can be
somewhat awkward--you have to make her crouch then jump, which doesn't always work right.
Graphics are smooth and okay, but sometimes the color is a bit off in some levels (like Angel's Old Mansion), as
Buffy tends to blend into the background. The graphics during the story interludes look sketchy at best and vaguely
resembles the characters, but that might be due to a licensing matter with the actors.
Sound is all right, with samples heard during the battles with vampires. The music fits the setting accordingly
during the interludes, but it can become grating during battles--fortunately you can turn it off by pressing the
Start button, which pauses the game and gives you these options.
I have mixed reactions towards this game, but most of them are favorable,
being an avid viewer of the TV series and all. The exploration/fighting levels can be long and drawn out at times,
causing my thumbs to ache from rapidly pushing all those buttons during battles, and yet some kind of satisfaction
will be felt as you stake a vampire and hear it wail and see it disintegrate into ash.
The vampires' AI is very good; they don't seem to move in predictable patterns, and they get tougher with each
successive level--the cemetery vampires were easy to beat, but the ones in the Old Mansion are difficult to destroy;
in fact, I haven't gotten past that level yet.
But the thing that makes me happy about this game is the dialogue among the characters during the interludes--the
script is excellent, and fits each character perfectly in the show; as shown in the samples below:
Buffy: Hi guys, am I interrupting anything?
Anya: Yes. Please go away.
Xander: Anya...remember how we greet friends?
Anya: Oh. Right. "Hi Buffy. It's nice to see you again."
Xander. Good. Next lesson--Sincerity. So what's up, Buff?
Cordy: Angel says Ethan is in his dreams, holding a book.
Buffy: Maybe he's just getting into that whole self-help craze.
Cordy: Well, Angel thinks you're involved somehow...so at least we're all safe here in L.A.!
Buffy: Tact still not a strong point of yours, is it?
Buffy: I'm going to check out the sewers--it's like the vamp superhighway for daytime travel.
The writers have managed to capture the feel of the show through the characters' dialogue, and that's all right
with me. In the credits, Buffy creator Joss Whedon is credited with "A Very Special Thank You", and at
least it's nice to know he wouldn't have approved this game if it sucked (bad pun).
This game would have earned higher marks if it weren't for the password save feature--I hate passwords, no matter
how justified it may be when it comes to cutting cart costs. Passwords are inconvenient to write down or remember
when you're right in the middle of the game, particularly if you're on the go.
Overall, I liked this game, but I'm speaking from a fan's perspective; gamers who know nothing about the TV series
will probably not get the dialogue and its in-jokes, and will find the fighting a bit tedious. I prefer seeing
a Buffy RPG next time though, with more of the Scooby Gang's involvement--now that would make a great game.