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G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (DS) (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (DS) on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As an inevitable tie-in to one of the biggest box office flicks of the summer months, G.I. Joe on the DS has a lot to live up to for fans expecting that something extra after the movie experience. Descended from the popular line of toys that peaked in popularity in the 80s and 90s, and which has continued in some form to the present day, The Rise of Cobra serves as a sequel to the events of the live-action film. But is it another licensed dud or should it receive a commendation?

As you may expect from a game of this type on the DS, The Rise of Cobra keeps the story on the afterburner. Long story short, Heavy Duty, part of the elite G.I. Joe special ops group, gets captured by the commander of the enemy group from the movie, COBRA. With the five remaining team members at your disposal, you have to rescue the big guy and stop the commander's schemes. The story's played out with painfully grainy and static character art adjoined with plain text between levels, so chances are it won't be on your mind for long.

Good thing too, because after jumping into the first level, long-time arcade and console players may see a correlation between this game and the classic Smash TV. That game threw you face down into a pit and instantly surrounded you with an absolutely ridiculous - but hilarious - number of enemies to gun down; The Rise of Cobra takes this template and marches down a slightly different road with it. The enemies are fewer but tougher, and despite a tad more exploration in G.I. Joe both games share that zany feel.
Touch screen usage is relegated to a mere 'fingerprint scan' on the main menu - clever, if gimmicky. With a top-down perspective, you battle through a range of environments like G.I. Joe Headquarters and snow-filled mountains. Your task is to reach the end of each area, laid out clearly on the handy bottom screen map, using dodge-rolls, vehicles, and a hella lot of guns. Three lives are given as standard, but you'll rarely find yourself losing any of them, as health regenerates over time and there is plenty of cover from stray bullets. Enemy soldiers are few but are damn good with their aim and can take quite a few hits before calling it a day.

Screenshot for G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (DS) on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Reaching the end of the level requires you to take out enemy spawning points and barrier/shield generators, a task that quickly becomes mundane and repetitive as nearly all of the levels consist of this. It's a problem partially remedied by character selection (chosen either at the start of the stage or after loss of life). Each has slightly different stats and secondary weapons, ranging from the sword-slashing Snake Eyes, to the turret gun-wielding Heavy Duty. Not only that, but a quick tap of the R trigger will let loose a special screen-clearing ability, rechargeable by collecting dropped medals on the field. It is this mix-up of ability and weaponry that attempts to keep the levels fresh, if only moderately succeeding in doing so. Vehicles are also a nice change of pace when you do encounter one that can be commandeered, although they handle largely the same as a regular character, just with stronger shields and an overheating ammo meter to worry about.

Each level will take up roughly a quarter of an hour of your time, but also keeping the game in your DS's cartridge slot is a multiplayer mode. Sadly, as should be standard with all such games, The Rise of Cobra doesn't offer single card play. Two or more players will each need a copy of the game to join in the Joe VS Cobra deathmatches. All the standard options are there: different maps, characters, time limits, teams. Owing to the need for a cartridge for all players, this mode works quite well as an extra; it's not going to become a preference over other multiplayer focused DS games, but it is good for what it is.

Although this addition is a useful little timewaster, and the main campaign takes half a dozen hours to beat, the game provides an insufficient amount to come back to. Characters can earn experience and level up from beating enemies in the levels, and subsequently unlock new costumes, but the differences are so minimal there is little point besides getting strong enough to conquer the last boss. As an overall package, The Rise of Cobra on DS manages to rise above most other average movie tie-ins, but more time to iron out the glaring flaws would've done wonders.

Screenshot for G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (DS) on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Good variation in weapon types and character attributes, but little-to-no change in objective and level design between areas.


Hideous cut-out art for cutscenes, but lots of meaty explosions and clear visuals for levels.


Bullets, bangs and radio static will be your earphone buddies here, as the music is largely forgettable, and there is zero voice acting.


Main campaign mode takes up a lot of time, as does the multiplayer with the right setup. Characters can upgraded but there is no justifiable reward. There's enough in it to warrant a single playthrough.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


About this score

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra provides a worthy follow-up to the plot of the movie, if skimping on a few essential areas of presentation and variety to do so. More time would have allowed the Smash TV template to shine through, but as it is this is largely forgettable, though not something you'd regret receiving as a gift.

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