The second of the three Army Men games to appear on the Game Boy Advance, Operation Green takes a step back from the protagonist Sergeant Hawk that most of the more recent games used and takes the series back to its roots with a run-of-the-mill looking Green soldier as the protagonist. Whereas Army Men Advance was rather awkward and just felt completely out of place, Operation Green remedies that by returning to the look and feel of the early Army Men games. While some may say that's not exactly a good thing, it was a return to form that I was thrilled to see.
After the downright bizarre visual style of Army Men Advance, it's a breath of fresh air to see Operation Green feature the series standard sub-par visuals. Normally I would say something like that sarcastically, but I mean that in complete seriousness. The Army Men series never impressed with its visuals, but I've grown a bit attached to them, and Operation Green's look fits with the norm. ln a lot of ways, this feels like the first Army Men game on Game Boy Advance just because of how out of place Army Men Advance felt. This is far more of a natural progression of the Game Boy Color games' designs and gameplay than Advance was.
The sound design is, for the most part, the same "meh" quality as the rest of the handheld games in the series, but the music is delightfully and surprisingly not the same three measures looped endlessly. It's not particularly good, but it's at least far less maddening than that in Army Men or Army Men 2. The game's mechanics and overall level design, however, are what really stand out. This is hands down the best of the handheld games that I've played. I enjoyed Army Men 2 a decent bit, but I legitimately had a good time with most of Operation Green rather than just enjoying it in comparison to the rest of the series. It could easily stand on its own as a mediocre shooter for the system.
The story of the game is, unfortunately, pretty bland even for an Army Men game, and it has a lot in common with Army Men: Air Combat for Game Boy Color with regards to the plot. Each mission is, for the most part, its own separate thing, and while various missions may tie in together as being part of different "operations," they all feel pretty isolated and disjointed. The game's other flaw is some of the details of the level design. Overall, the levels and environments feel varied and interesting, but about halfway through the game, the levels start to get really long. The last quarter or so of the game has levels that are legitimate labyrinths. In general, this might not be too bad, but when a game over sends you back to the start of a level that could potentially take you 20 or 30 minutes depending on how quickly you find your way, it gets frustrating. Thankfully the game is fairly generous with health pickups (not that that helps once you start encountering enemies equipped with flamethrowers), but the previous games' general approach of 30 short levels rather than 12 long levels fits the game better in my opinion.
Army Men: Operation Green is without a doubt the best of the handheld Army Men games that I've played thus far. While that might not necessarily say much, it is a legitimately enjoyable game even if not a particularly stand-out one compared to some of the other offerings on the GBA. The levels are a bit too lengthy for my taste, and the story is kind of pants, but the gameplay is fun, and the variety of level environments make for some really great battle settings. For fans of the Army Men series (assuming I'm not the only one in the world), this is a must play. For collectors of the Game Boy Advance, this is a worthwhile game to give a shot. If you're a casual fan of 2D shooters (not shmups), then it's worth a go, but if you don't fall into one of those three categories, as is typically the case for Army Men games, there's not really a lot here to offer.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.