Those crazy Disney Channel characters Phineas and Ferb are back for another adventure, and this time they have left the confines of Nintendo’s DS and taken a leap to the Nintendo Wii and PS3. I got the opportunity to review the Wii version of the game. Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is based on the Disney Channel original movie of the same name. I got a chance to check out an early build at E3 this year, and I was somewhat impressed back then, so when the retail version arrived to my home office, my expectations were somewhat high for a TV tie in game given my time with it just over two months ago. After playing the retail version of Across the Second Dimension I am happy to report that it is definitely a game that should please many young gamers out there, especially fans of the TV show.
To sum up the game’s story, a portal is opened up by Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Dr. D), which transports our heroes, Phineas and Ferb, and sticks them into some really wild alternate realities. Yes, I said realities, as in more than one. The first level you find yourself in looks very much like their hometown of Danville, but something is amiss as there is gelatin everywhere that makes you realize you are no longer in Danville. Your goal is to get through each level and find your way back home. It is as simple as that.
Something that I have to note right off the top is that Across the Second Dimension is definitely not a game aimed at the ‘hardcore’ or ‘mature’ audience. This game is squarely pegged at the younger gamers who usually are the ones who usually watch Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel. This is a good thing though as the game’s focus is directed at the right people. It does not try to be more than it is, and for that I give it credit. Don’t’ get me wrong, should a parent or older sibling want to sit down and help a family member get through the game they too will have some fun, but in the end the game is really tailored for those who appreciate the show, the youngins’.
I have to say that something that really caught me off guard was the fact that there was a nice mix of gameplay elements throughout the game. You’ll find yourself going through a level in a traditional platform style of play and then all of a sudden you will switch it up as you find yourself having to dodge and defend a mad horde of angry robots on the street or guide yourself through the air with a jetpack strapped to your back. The mix of things to do is very well timed. Just as you find yourself starting to tire of one particular mode, the game seems to switch things up at the right moment and offer you something different to catch your attention again (or should I say the kids attention?).
For those wondering, you get a chance to control other characters then just Phineas and Ferb including Agent P and an all-new agent to the OWCA, Agent T. The key here is that you are restricted to the crazy brothers at first and you slowly gain access to other characters. There is not a major difference in each character though, but the fact that you can control other characters from the series is pretty cool and a nice treat for fans of the franchise.
There are a total of 24 levels for you to venture through. Each one has a basic theme to it. For example, one level, which really was a surprise for me, was a black and white level that harkened back to the old days. Sure, I was never around to watch black and white cartoons, but to take the time to put this kind of thought into each level is pretty cool, and given the fact that there are 24 levels to work your way through makes it even better given the diversity that is on screen.
In order for you to make it through the levels included in the game you will use some pretty cool gadgetry. You will use such gadgets as the Carbonator (orange soda anyone), Baseball Launcher, Ninja Glove, Anti-Gravity Ray and more. Of course as you use these gadgets they level up. You’ll find workbenches in various locations on each level and you will use collectibles to upgrade your devices, and in this case the collectibles are in the form of electronic components. There are also special mods that can be found in ‘hard to reach’ places that force you and the your kids/playing partner to think a little, but they are not totally out of reach. I got a kick out of the “noxious smell mod” where my ninja gloves smell resulted in enemies becoming woozy and dizzy from the stench. All in all the way your items level up is fun, and the young ones who play the game will love the results of some pretty wacky powered up gadgets.
Across the Second Dimension is a one or two-player game, given that the name has both Phineas and Ferb in it. A second player can jump in any time for some crazy co-op fun. For those that can’t find a second player or those who opt to play alone, the computer AI takes control of the second character and does a pretty admirable job of doing so.
As I mentioned, the game is tailored for fans of the show, and given the age of those fans the skill level is geared for the same too. This makes the game somewhat easy given there is a lot forgiveness in what you do. How I look at this however is not so much as a downfall, but I look at is just as it should be, a feature that is included for the kids. For someone like me, and adult who is a parent of a 5 year old and 7 year old, the game is WAY to easy, but for my two kids, the lenience translates into fun, and that was a great thing to watch. For example, my youngest is not a great puzzle solver when it comes to videogames, but Across the Second Dimension does not want or need you to be, so even he had a blast. I know that may critics out there will slam this game for this fact, but I applaud Disney and developer High Impact Games for this as they have crafted a game that makes pretty much all kids who play this title feel like they are a videogame superstar, and as a parent this fact earns high marks in my books.
Having seen only a handful of the Phineas and Ferb episodes, I have to say that what I have seen on the animated show is pretty much faithfully recreated in the game. From the bright colours to the distinct art style, fans will feel like they are indeed in control of an episode of Phineas and Ferb. I also have to give kudos to the level design in this game, as each one is original and fresh, and the variety keeps players interested. I found that I was really fascinated by each level and I wanted to see what was coming up next. I also really enjoyed watching my kids play too, as they were even more fascinated given that they were in control of a world they have only watched a few times on the Disney Channel, and they loved the environments they explored. Of course given that this is a Wii game, some may notice the lower resolution when compared to the PS3 version, but in the end the game still looks solid and kids will most likely not care about those kinds of technical facts, and that is what counts.
The sound matches the visuals and gameplay to a tee, adding to the feeling that you are truly involved in an episode of the show. The voice acting is spot on and anyone will find that the dialog that goes on during gameplay really helps to make this game feel like the cartoon. As I played with my kids I chuckled more than a few times, and this is a testament to what the game offers up in terms of dialog. Of course along with the voices comes some great sound effects too, from the usual jumps, smashes and grunts, to the sounds of the various gadgets. Trust me, there is nothing like hearing the sound of the Carbonator spit out some sticky orange soda. I think that anyone who plays this game will enjoy the total sound package, which compliments the overall gameplay.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is a title that really does what it should, and that is make a game so accessible, and so enjoyable, that kids who are young, and who are fans of the TV show, will have a blast with it. I am sure the pundits out there will criticize how easy this game is, but what they are missing is that this is not a game for the ‘older’ or more ‘mature’ crowd. It is for the kids, and not all kids are good at games, hence why this game is so perfect (metaphorically speaking). Add to this that the game looks and sounds like the cartoon, and you have a great overall package that most kids and fans of the franchise should enjoy.