There are a lot of great Game Boy Advance games out there. A lot of them are fun to play, have surprisingly great graphics and can take a long time to beat. Of course, there are also the bad ones; the ones that aren't fun or compelling, have horrible looking graphics and can be beaten in one sitting. It seems that VAN HELSING, based on the movie of the same name, is one of the latter.
There aren't many things that this game has going for it, but it does have a few nice points to mention. For starters, the game does follow pretty closely with the storyline of the movie: you play as the title character Van Helsing, a monster hunter who has been sent after Dracula. Along your way, you will encounter characters from the movie, as well as combat some monsters such as Wolf Man and Dracula. Also a plus is that this game isn't a basic side-scroller with the VAN HELSING license tacked on. Rather, the game is played using an isometric viewpoint with beat 'em up style gameplay, with a few exploration elements added as well.
Unfortunately, the graphics are simply horrible. The entire game lacks any real pizzazz, and the entire game feels lifeless. The backgrounds all done with dull colors; in all honesty, the game doesn't have much color to it at all. Van Helsing's character is made up or two colors, the backgrounds are normally a brown and black combination, and the monsters are just as dull. VAN HELSING compares to a lot of early bad Game Boy Advance releases.
While graphics certainly don't make a game, they can add to it, especially when the gameplay is just as bad. Other than the pressing the control pad in the right direction, there isn't much to the gameplay: press the A and B buttons really quickly to unleash some of Van Helsing's six different weapons and you'll easily dispatch anything that gets in your way. Every type of enemy will be seen about five to ten times per level as well. The game just isn't very fun. The collision detection is awful at times, leading to you being knocked around constantly by enemies.
The music unfortunately doesn't help out at all. There aren't many sound effects found throughout the game, which is wonderful since the ones we are presented with aren't very good. You'll hear screams from dying enemies (normally the same scream), and the noises from his weapons. There is music, but you'll likely want to turn this off; the same "organ" style music plays in every single level. At least the game will only take you less than two hours to play through.
It really is a shame about VAN HELSING for the Game Boy Advance. The console versions were pretty good, and a DEVIL MAY CRY style game on a portable system would have been wonderful. It's too bad this one dropped the ball.