Data Sheet

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Publisher: THQ
Features: Game Boy Color only. Password feature.
Format: Action Adventure
Reviewer: Heiss

Screen Shots


"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 game ends.

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 knocked out.

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.

Other Comments

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.

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