Review: Fear Factor Unleashed (Game Boy Advance)

In this review, we find out if fear is a factor for us in the Game Boy Advance game Fear Factor Unleashed. We find out how well this action game plays.

This game was released in 2002. It is based off of the game show Fear Factor.

There isn’t much of a story here. It just follows along the format of the TV show. Three men and three women compete for $50,000 and the title of Fear Factor Unleashed. If you freak out during the stung, you are eliminated. If you fail the stunt, you are also eliminated. Complete the stunt and you’ll be moving on to the next round. There are three rounds total. Survive the first two stunts and perform the third stunt the best and you’ll win.

In total, there are twelve stunts offered in the game. Two of them are the designated “gross” stunts while the other ten make up the action stunts. Of course, since this is Fear Factor, fear can be a factor in your gameplay.

When you start your game, you’ll get a chance to create your profile. This profile allows you to choose not only your name, but also gender, hair colour, skin tone, and outfit. Once you have all of this set, you’ll be given a chance to randomly select your own personal fear. Finally, you’ll be given a chance to distribute 20 points among different attributes such as stamina. This plays a small part in how well your character performs. From there, you’ll be ready to begin your adventure as a Fear Factor contestant.

During every stunt, you’ll have a fear meter. Ideally, you want the indicator at the middle. If the indicator wanders too far to the left or right, you’ll freak out and fail your stunt. To keep yourself calm, you’ll need to use the L or R button to nudge the indicator back into the middle. This extra indicator is meant to add a certain spice to the game as well as bring fear into the mix.

The main event is Fear Factor mode. This mode randomly selects three stunts for your to compete in. For whatever reason, the game tends to favour some stunts over others in their respective category. For instance, of the many times I’ve played this mode, I only got gross out buffet once. Every other time, I got the conveyor belt level. There’s only two gross stunts available in the game, so either I got extremely lucky or the odds are weirdly stacked. Other stunts seem to be heavily favoured as well.

Before you begin, you’ll be given a brief introduction to the stunt. This is basically a small chunk of text that tells you the controls and your objectives. From there, the goal is to simply survive the first action stunt. There are no circumstances where you need to score well in the first two stunts. The only goal is to not be eliminated.

Interestingly enough, you’ll get to watch other contestants compete first. In fact, you’ll always go last, so you’ll always have the benefit of what you need to accomplish in the stunt (and in the case of the last stunt, what you need to do to win the game).

If you fail a stunt or lose, you’ll be eliminated. However, if you win, you’ll become the Feat Factor Unleashed champion. What you unlock is the next difficulty. In total, there are three difficulties. The performance of the contestants doesn’t vary that much from difficulty to difficulty. The main difference is how much you can transfer in your mouth, how many flags you can collect, or how complex/difficult the course is. The eliminations are about the same otherwise.

If you complete the game on the hardest mode, you’ll simply win. Beating the game offers players a chance to view a small additional video and a small chunk of text effectively congratulating you. Nothing much else is offered, really.

In addition to the main Fear Factor mode, there are other modes such as practice and custom. Practice allows you to select which stunt you want to try. Custom allows you to create your own championship. Different options available to you include how many contestants you want to compete, how many stunts you want to play, and even which stunt you want to compete in to become the champion.

That really is the game right there.

The first problem I personally have with this game is the fact that the game itself, at least the main mode, is quite short. In fact, you could complete the game in all of 15 minutes. If you really want to push things, you can spend all of an hour or so unlocking all of the difficulties. Once you have that out of the way, you just replay stunts or play stunts that you never got randomly chosen to play. At that point, you are playing until you are bored of playing the same thing over and over again.

Another problem is the lack of any realism. For instance, in the actual TV show, Fear Factor places an emphasis on safety of the contestants. In this game, there’s no real safety harnesses or even a sense of safety in the first place. Contestant can get chewed up by fish, burned by flame throwers, or fall from a massive height. Under most circumstances for a game, this would be a trivial point, but in this context, there’s a bit of a departure from the actual show itself.

Additionally, there isn’t much this game offers outside of the trademarked logo and the core concept. While 12 stunts does sound like a fair bit, most can be completed in under five minutes. So, in about an hour, you could actually complete every stunt. Once you’ve completed every stunt, the game winds up being pretty repetitive after that.

One thing I think would have improved this game a fair bit is probably the ability to improve your character. For instance, if you win a stunt or a set of stunts, you could win Fear Factor points that can go towards improving your characters stats. Then, as you get through to higher difficulties, you’ll be given a chance to compete against tougher opponents. Along the way, you could try your hand at various special 5 stunt events for even bigger prizes.

Imagine being able to travel along a tree of events. Advancing to the next difficulty means you’ll get a chance to play in a more complex tree of events, improving your character as you go along. That might actually have made this game much more interesting then just shove out a game with a basic formula and a few added modes. Unfortunately, this game simply doesn’t do this at all. All that is here is what seems to be more of a cash grab for fans of the show.

Generally speaking, this game is quite short and repetitive. While the 12 stunts and different modes do add to the overall experience, it simply wasn’t enough to really save this from being a short game. The repetition just didn’t do this game any favours. There were plenty of ways this game could have improved on itself, but it seemed like a title meant to get the basics done before moving on to something else. The fear meter does make the game a bit more interesting, but that’s about it.

Graphically, the major strength of this game is the fact that it uses video from the actual TV show. There are a few time lapse videos as well to make things interesting. Once you get into the game itself, the graphics can be a bit basic. In fact, there really isn’t much in the way of special effects either. It only suggests that there isn’t much of an improvement over the Game Boy Color, really. Technologically, that isn’t the case, but this game doesn’t necessarily showcase the systems power that well.

The audio is a bit of a miss for me as well. The theme of Fear Factor is present, but is cut short thanks to an edit. There is all of one or two other tracks available. While the music is OK (the theme is great), it gets quite repetitive after a while. The sound effects are pretty subpar. Even the host sounds like he’s recording voice samples from the basement and is trying not to disturb the neighbours. So, a miss on this front as well.

Overall, this game did have some potential. Unfortunately, it seemed that the developers chose to push out a very basic game that checks the boxes of what the game show formula is like. The length leaves a fair bit to be desired and the game winds up being pretty repetitive. While the fear meter does add a bit of spice to the game, there isn’t much else this game offers. The graphics, are pretty sub-standard once you get past the clips and the audio is quite limited and substandard. So, overall, a barely passable game you can easily skip over.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game on the hardest setting.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 52%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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