With Fleet Week just around the corner — shore leave begins May 25th bar-stars — a legendary sailor comes into port on the Game Boy Advance. Popeye and the rest of the old school crew are fighting for the finish line in Popeye: Rush For Spinach.
Four different characters are selectable: Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Popeye and the infamous Bluto. Race through random environments such as the streets, jungle, moon and beyond, in this side-scrolling adventure.
During travel gain speed by sucking down spinach or saddle up on a rocket, pogo stick or dinosaur for a rapid ride. Slow opponents down by throwing them aside; power-ups can also be used to turn rivals into chickens or drop landmines for those lagging behind.
Play control is mastered faster than it takes to use a can opener and largely consists of moving right while jumping with skillful timing.
Graphically, games on this platform have rarely looked this good; the animation is seamless and each character has its own style of movement. Although the title is aimed at young gamers, a stronger storyline and more variety in gameplay would turn this into a game as desirable as a hamburger to Wimpy.
The replay value isn’t exactly a selling point either, with only seven levels total and a few bonus rounds, rushing your way to the end takes about as long as it would for Popeye to pack his pipe.
Currently, all the rage in handhelds is the technically savvy PSP and the wi-fi ready DS, so it’s tragic that Popeye: RFS doesn’t act as more of a life preserver, for the inevitable sinking ship known as the USS Game Boy Advance.
Best feature: Vivid colors and slick graphics; piloting vehicles is also a kick.
Worst feature: Repetitive gameplay and lack of levels.
Weirdest feature: Character’s wardrobes change when riding skateboards; Olive Oyl is way too hot in knee pads.