“Bonne Chance, Et Vive La Resistance!”
Remember when World War II first-person shooter fatigue was in full effect? For those of you who don’t, there was this nearly decade-long stretch of time that saw hundreds of largely interchangeable games released, all centered around the bonā fidē classic premise of killing Nazis. What finally brought this trend to an end wasn’t publishers kowtowing to upset alt-right assholes, or anything else similarly pathetic: All it took was the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to completely change the tides, and usher in a new era of largely interchangeable modern-day military shooters. Sure enough, it’s been nearly another decade since then, and now this new setting has seemingly run its course as well. Just recently (as of the time of this writing), Call of Duty: WWII has seen that series returning to its roots, as well as Battlefield travelling back to the 1940s for its upcoming fifth installment. You’ve gotta love how cyclical this goofy little industry is.
But to what title do we owe that initial wave of World War II shooters, anyhow? Well, while it certainly wasn’t the first title of its kind, the credit for the fad is most certainly owed to the original Medal of Honor, released in 1999 for Sony’s PlayStation. With the involvement of one Steven Spielberg bringing with him a production value previously unseen in the genre, it was a game released to immediate critical and financial success; sure to inspire a slew of sequels, and soon at that. Sure enough, the next year would see Medal of Honor: Underground released for the same console, with a conversion slated to arrive two years later for… Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance? Well, surely, this would have to serve as a very different take on the source material. Maybe a top-down shooter, or some sort of action platformer? Hey, maybe even make it an RPG if you’re feeling — wait, what’s that? You’re telling me it’s still a first-person shooter, then? Huh.
So, here we go folks: Our first foray into the fascinating world of Game Boy Advance first-person shooters. Yes, there’s more than just this one, and truth be told, most of them are actually pretty alright! But among this select group, Medal of Honor: Underground has the reputation of being the very worst. How can that be, though? For starters, any game about destroying Nazis can’t be all bad. And you know, that “Medal of Honor” branding used to be a real mark of quality — a title you could truly trust. Reputation be damned, I’m gonna give this game the benefit of the doubt going in. I mean, I reckon we’re gonna have to go ahead and ultimately compare the game against its source material, as well as to some of the other GBA FPS titles that preceded it; but I’ve still got a good feeling that the handheld Medal of Honor: Underground will stand the trials ahead of it! Le jour de gloire est arrivé!