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The Aly & AJ Adventure Package Art
Frame Studios Interactive

The Aly & AJ Adventure

With several high-selling albums and television appearances, pop duo Aly & AJ have made their mark on popular culture. Now, the two sisters have their own DS game courtesy of Destination Software, Inc. How does getting ready for a concert and dealing with legions of fans translate to the entertainment software medium? Read on to find out.


While real-life photos of Aly & AJ are displayed at regular intervals throughout the The Aly & AJ Adventure, primarily the two titular characters, along with everyone else involved, are represented by a cartoon style that would be appropriate on any given Saturday morning show. The style features a blend of soft palette colors and exemplifies the bubblegum-pop roots of the duo. Players can choose a character avatar from a limited set to represent themselves. Both male and female characters are shown, although the choice doesn't effect the gameplay in any major way.


Since Aly & AJ are primarily about music, it makes sense that selections from their repertoire are among the highlights of the game soundtrack. The DS sound chip and speakers aren't quite up to the task of perfectly reproducing the original recordings, but the sound quality is authentic enough for gameplay purposes. These songs can also be unlocked and listened to from the main menu. Outside of the actual songs, the game doesn't have a great deal of sound to speak about. Menu screens are punctuated with a mild beat, and the mini-games that aren't accompanied by Aly & AJ songs are filled with peppy elevator-style music and chipper sound effects.


The Aly & AJ Adventure revolves around the player, who is cast as a roadie for the two pop stars. Most of the action revolves around helping the pop duo get ready for a concert in a given city, which generally takes the form of various mini-games. Some are harder or more abstract than others, and while menus can usually be controlled by either the touch screen or buttons, the stylus is the implement of choice for the games themselves. Some mini-games succeed with the touch control, and some fail; for example, matching one particular item to another in the Unpacking Party game can seem unintuitive at times, while punching the flashing buttons in Make a Video is far easier to grasp from the start.

The mini-games aren't particularly inspired, but can be enjoyable at times; take Operation Billboard, which involves scrubbing graffiti off an Aly & AJ billboard, while a vandal on a skateboard skates by and tries to re-vandalize the poster. All this is made somewhat hilarious because of the sound the punk makes when he's punched by the DS stylus. Beat the Pirates, another mini-game in which players must destroy pirated CDs by tapping them, is a quick reflex game that can be somewhat immersive at times. Once a mini-game is completed, the player is graded on a scale from C to AAA (no doubt feelings will be spared by the lack of an F, although games can be lost completely), which determines how many points will be added to a meter on the top screen. When the meter reaches a certain point, Aly & AJ can perform at their concert.

The Concert mode is the meat of The Aly & AJ Adventure. As a tap-based rhythm game in the vein of Elite Beat Agents, the Concert mode has the player drafted into playing drums for Aly & AJ, while the pair's regular drummer is sick. Jewel-shaped icons on the bottom screen slowly fill up as the given song progresses, and the goal is to tap each icon as it fills up completely; tapping early will result in a score penalty. While the play is inspired by iNiS's seminal DS classic, it can't quite measure up in execution; and, in truth, the touch recognition is rather poor throughout the game. Often a shape will be tapped but not recognized, leaving the player with an undeserved penalty, which can get frustrating after repeated playthroughs.


Two players can link up wirelessly and play mini-games head-to-head with The Aly & AJ Adventure, provided two copies of the game are present. The player with the higher ranking at the end of the game is the winner, and the rankings are determined in the same way as the single-player mode.


The Aly & AJ Adventure is designed for a specific audience -- young children and possibly the occasional 40-year-old virgin -- and considering the visual appeal and difficulty level, it will probably be a hit with that audience. It has a decently long story mode and games that, for the most part, have an easy learning curve; and even if players are having trouble adjusting to the mini-games, each can be accessed from the menu at any time for a bit of practice. Some issues should have been worked out, but there's no question that this DS title will provide some serious fan service for Aly & AJ devotees.

final score 6.2/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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