Sword: Shadow of the Templars
For Game Boy Advance
Review by Skinny Minnie
Languidly enjoying the view outside a quaint French bistro, Californian
George Stobbart was vacationing in Paris. A bit perplexed at local
custom, George stared curiously as a clown dressed in spectacular
garb and wielding an accordion barreled into said bistro on the
heels of an older, grey-suited patron carrying a battered briefcase.
There wasn't much time for reflection, though, as the explosion
of the next instant found George knocked unconscious and flat
on his back, covered by what was left of the bistro's outdoor
Languidly enjoying the view lakeside on an American campground,
New Englander Skinny Minnie was vacationing with her new Game
Boy Advance. A bit perplexed at Nintendo custom, Minnie stared
curiously down at the 2.9" screen that seriously screamed
for the addition of a backlight. There wasn't much time for reflection,
though, nor could many of those be seen on the screen either,
as Minnie's head craned and bobbed like a goose on the lake ...
BAM! Entertainment's true-to-the-original port of the 1996 PC
tourist-turned-detective tale was humorous, serious, captivating,
invigorating, and above all hard to put down! French photographer
Nicole Collard (aka Nico), who arrived representing her newspaper
at the opening scene to get shots of the cafe's bombing, begrudgingly
struck up what was supposed to be a "business only"
partnership with eyewitness George. She agreed to this so they
could string together the events surrounding the calamity. With
police more apathetic than empathetic, it was up to George and
the alluring Nico to conduct interviews with local inhabitants
and to research the events of fourteenth century history to uncover
a multinational cult conspiracy of knightly murder and mayhem.
The 32-bit graphics capability of the Game Boy Advance itself
was put through its paces here, resulting in colorfully detailed
environments that belied their tiny roots and only occasionally
appeared grainy or pixelated. The sound, although harkening back
to the PC games of the early 90s, did offer melodious French accordion
music, spooky synthesizer sounds, and soothing piano pieces. A
lovely pealing of bells could also be heard whenever vital information
was discovered or a puzzle was completed in the correct fashion.
There were occasional sound effects of explosions or creaky doors,
but speech (and George's hilarious thoughts) were represented
solely by onscreen text. Actually, many areas were bereft of sound
altogether, and sometimes the only thing that lakeside passers
by, both human and chipmunk, could hear was the chortling of an
amused gamer as she read George and Nico's latest witty statements.
Controlling the two-dimensional George in this Game Boy Advance
version of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (originally
released in the U.S. as the PC game Broken Sword: Circle of
Blood) couldn't have been easier. The A and B buttons on the
right side of the GBA functioned as neatly as a left and right
mouse click would, allowing George to interact with people, places
and things, depending upon what icons were on the screen. A mouth
icon indicated the possibility for conversation via onscreen text.
A magnifying glass appeared when something could be examined further.
Round gears appeared when something could be activated or made
to function with something else, often via interaction with inventory
items on hand. Pulsing white hands indicated paths for impending
scene changes and also showed when a new inventory item could
be picked up. The only icon inconsistency I found was a few instances
where inventory items needed to be used in spots where only the
magnifying glass icon would appear, instead of the usual round
The left trigger pulled up the actual inventory items, which
were usually used in understandable ways that blossomed out of
and served to further the rich plot. Attempting to use each inventory
item in turn when stuck, or combining two or even three items
that were pulsating in inventory and then using the newly created
item, usually yielded results. The right trigger could be used
to cycle through all available hot spots in any scene, showing
if anything was overlooked. The directional pad on the left was
used both to scroll through inventory items and to move George
around in each scene. At the end of every successfully finished
area, George was transported either to Nico's apartment to reconnoiter
or to a world map where he could walk in seconds from locale to
locale or even from country to country.
The start button was used when beginning to play and when saving
the game wherever desired. The only drawback to the save function
was that one save slot would get continually covered over itself
every time the game was saved, leaving little ability to go back
to an earlier save in the event of George's occasional untimely
demise. The only workaround was that there were in actuality three
save slots (allowing three different players the chance to have
separate games going), and the options menu did allow the copying
of one save to another slot. Eventually I learned to copy early
saves into the second and third slots, still continuing play via
the first save slot but able to regress back in time if need be
via the other save slots.
Major Bug Alert!
With a Daddy Long Legs and a Baby Long Legs watching from my
picnic table in horror, I spent a scary amount of time crying
over bugsgame bugs that is! If you play this GBA game, do
not visit the Spanish villa before you have returned from
Marib, even if Spain shows up on your map first! If you visit
Spain first, you will later find George trapped in a European
sewer after having solved the Marib puzzle, with Marib stubbornly
not showing up on the map as the next destination even though
all indicators point that it should. Nico will refuse to mention
Marib, too, if George visits her for ideas. You may send Mr. Stobbart
back to all previous locales thinking you have missed something,
only to find no new clues and all dead ends. You will in fact
be forced to begin the whole game again, unless you have jogged
around "copying" previous saves to other slots beforehand.
This was found out by me the hard way as I desperately searched
for and found a GBA version of the walkthrough.
The Marib bug and also an inventory puzzle bug at the end were
confirmed in that walkthrough, so I'm passing them along for your
reference. The second bug at the end of the game occurs because
a few red herring inventory items from the PC game were never
removed, even though they are not needed in the GBA version. If
you use the red herring items in place of the proper ones when
solving the final puzzle (and believe me, they fit), they cannot
be removed again, and the game comes to a grinding halt. I suggest
a save copy to another slot before George enters Bannockburn Church
with Nico, so you can experiment with inventory items as you please.
It is hard for me to estimate the length of time that this game
would take for the average adventure gamer to finish, as I wound
up having to repeat over half of it due to the Marib bug. Until
then, I did not use a walkthrough, even though I paced around
my camper more than a few times, causing the Long Legs family
to run for the Dramamine as I puzzled out George's next move.
After the Marib incident, however, I did begrudgingly scan the
walkthrough in fear of another forced restart, finding out about
the ending bug but ruining some of the story along the way.
However, bugs aside, it was an exciting and intriguing tale of
both honorable and dishonorable knights, of love and laughter,
and of tragedy befalling a noble family down through the ages.
I highly recommend this game to any adventure gamer, as its charming
and engrossing storyline and puzzles are worth the price not only
of the game itself, but of the Game Boy Advance (and obligatory
300-watt lamp) as well. I do rate it a star despite its glitches,
and I fervently hope that if and when I play a future Broken
Sword GBA port, the only bugs I find are the ones crawling
up my legs ...
Release Date: March 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
An Eye-Opening Opener
At the Bar in the Aftermath
George in France
Got Any French Fries, Miss?
Quit Clowing Around!
Sewers Are a Popular French Attraction
With the Boys in Blue
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
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