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Phineas and Ferb is one of those cartoon shows that are made for kids, but clearly written with adults in mind. I’ve sat beside my daughter on the couch and watched many, many episodes, and found myself laughing at a reference that the show’s intended audience could not possibly comprehend more times than I can count.
That’s what makes the show so successful. The kids love it, and it’s not so obnoxious that parents want to lobotomize themselves with a baby spoon every time it comes on. Quite the opposite, in fact, it’s actually genuinely entertaining.
Which is why I decided that my four-year-old and I should try out Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second dimension. I figured that if the game even came close to the great writing of the show, it would at least be entertaining. For the most part, I was right.
Beautiful graphics, simple difficulty, and familiar characters from the show abound, but the game is not without its flaws.
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For anyone who’s spent time playing one (or all) of Traveler’s Tales’ Lego games, the gameplay of Phineas and Ferb 2D will seem somewhat familiar. Two characters take the screen simultaneously and work together to take down hordes of enemies in-between jumping puzzles. each character can be controlled by a player, or player one can go it alone with computer back up.
Switching between one- and two-player mode is effortless and fast, though I did experience some lag when bringing up the pause menu on the PS3 version.
As fans of the show might expect, there are several unique weapon types to unlock and upgrade. Phineas and Ferb use their trademark inventing skills to create an orange soda-launching cannon, a homing-baseball launcher, and an anti-gravity ray, and that’s just for starters. Each weapon can be upgraded to increase its damage, add special abilities, or change sound effects.
The game’s difficulty is simultaneously a huge advantage and glaring flaw. Like the games in the Lego series, there is no real penalty for dying. This is great if, for example, you want your four-year-old to be able to play it without getting insanely frustrated. However, if you’re a thirty-something veteran gamer it can get downright boring.
The game is very fun, but its potential for greatness is limited by the non-existent difficulty and lack of any real replay value. Yes, there are weapon upgrades to unlock, but the skee ball and crane machine mini-games required to unlock them are downright boring. So much so that you’ll find yourself skipping them after about the third time.
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The graphics are, in a word, amazing. The artists have captured the animation of the show incredibly well, and each of the game’s dimensions is visually distinct and has its own appeal.
The characters and enemies are well-realized, and the visual aspects that accompany each of the individual weapons are spot on.
Absolutely nothing to complain about in this department. Any casual fan of the show would recognize the characters and backgrounds at a glance.
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The writing is great as well. It’s hard not to chuckle as you make your way through, and viewing more of the story will be the motivation many players need to finish the story.
Each of the weapons can be customized to emit various sounds which are unlocked by purchasing them with tickets earned in the skee ball and crane mini games. This is an interesting take on weapon customization, and it is fun to be able to add things like Perry the Platypus’ trademark chatter sound when firing your weapon, but the novelty wears off after the thousandth time you’ve pulled the trigger or so.
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Controls are standard 3D action-adventure game fare. It can get a bit frustrating to line up shots or land on smaller platforms given the fixed camera angles, but these are annoyances most gamers are accustomed to in the modern world of 3D gaming.
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If you’re a so-called “hardcore" gamer on the lookout for a serious challenge, you should probably ignore Phineas and Ferb 2D and move on to something more Zelda-like.
If you’re a parent looking for a fun game that you can enjoy alongside your young children, especially if they happen to be fans of the show, then you might want to give this game a look. It’s short, so if your kids aren’t the type to go back after completing something, you might want to rent rather than purchase.
If, however, your children love watching the same episodes of the show over and over again and you’re looking for a low-difficulty video game that they can enjoy on their own, Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension may be exactly what the Dr. Doofenshmirtz ordered.
- All images and references from Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension.