Sunday, April 19, 2015

Game Review - Cartoon Edition

Recently I decided to play some games based on cartoons I love: Phineas and Ferb and the Quest For Cool Stuff, Penguins of Madagascar, and Ducktales: Remastered. I steeled myself. A lot of times, when games are based on movies, they come out pretty terribly. I was prepared for the worst, but I was hoping they were at least playable.

Phineas and Ferb: Quest For Cool Stuff

This is a 2D platformer where the player collects items and defeats enemies by jumping on them or using a spin attack. There are 2 stories going on, Perry’s and Dr.
Doofenshmirtz’ story and the kids’ story. This is very much like the cartoon where there are two stories going on and they intersect at times.  The tutorial with Perry the Platypus is nicely done and immersive. The difficulty ramps up at a good pace and there are different unlockables you earn as you go that help you access new parts of levels.

Verdict: The game was fun and surprisingly well done. The animation was a little bit off but it didn’t detract much and the other elements of the game more than made up for a small bit of off animation.

Penguins of Madagascar

This is another 2D platformer where you play as the penguins and use their strengths to get through levels. The basic story is that you are collecting Cheesy Dibbles and completing missions. I wanted to like this one, I really did and it wasn't really a bad game, but I put it down after only an hour. The game itself was actually fairly decent, but it really needed the penguins' voices to make it work. Juicy is when your game has aesthetic elements that give your game character and life. This game lacked juiciness. One thing I did like is that you can switch between the four penguins while playing. If it had been a purely aesthetic switch, it would've been cute and nice to be able to play as your favorite penguin but they took the concept and made it better, it went beyond aesthetics. Each penguin had a different special move and each one had specific skills that you had to use to get past the level.

Verdict: It's not a bad game, but it's really not a good game either. What pushed it into being good was being able to switch between the penguins and use their abilities. Unfortunately, the lack of voices brought it down to mediocrity. I wouldn't buy it.

Ducktales: Remastered

Ducktales is, yet another, 2D platformer. In this one you play as Scrooge McDuck and collect treasures and coins while defeating enemies. This is based on the 1989 NES game, which I unfortunately didn't play. The original scenes are all in there with some expansions and two new levels, a vault tutorial and a volcano level. The characters have all been hand-drawn and the game is fully voiced. It's a fun game and the voices are a nice touch. Once you get past the vault, you can do any of the scenes in any order with the exception of the volcano scene, which doesn't open until all the other scenes are done. This makes it a little bland on ramping up the difficulty. There is a bit of a glitch on the volcano level where your character disappears whenever you do a pogo jump. It's not game-breaking, but it is disconcerting. For me it was probably about 4 hours of gameplay, for others it would probably be more like 3.

Verdict: It’s a fun game that plays on nostalgia and is really decent game. I probably still wouldn't buy it because I finished it in 4 hours and felt like there wasn't that much more I could get out of it.

Both Phineas & Ferb and Ducktales worked and Penguins would have worked with the inclusion of voices. I think part of the reason these games worked was because they had the essence of their source material without copying it. The reason most movies don't make the transition as well has a lot to do with the execution. A lot of times movie-based games are treated as a money-grab, "the movie is popular so let's capitalize." Enough time and care isn't given and/or they rehash what was already done in the movie. We don't need a rehashing; we know how that story went. To really work, besides time and care, we need the essence of the material. We need a continuation of the story; we need to be part of something that didn't already happen.