Clean, colorful graphics; tried-and-true, fun gameplay; extras actually make the game more fun
A short 4-5 hour campaign; pretty easy for most gamers
Phineas and Ferb is a likeable animated series running on the Disney Channel. In the spirit of Dexter’s Laboratory or Jimmy Neutron, the show traces the escapades of two elementary-aged supergeniuses and their impossible inventions. The cast around them includes a sister obsessed with exposing them, a pitifully failure-prone evil genius adversary, and a pet platypus that also secretly happens to be an international secret agent. The show has been successful enough to spawn a made-for-TV movie, Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, which aired on the Disney Channel and is scheduled for release on Blu-ray and DVD in late August. A multiplatform video game of the same name was released to coincide with the film, and the game proves to be an engaging adaptation that ends far too soon.
The game takes on, in broad strokes, the premise of the film: the titular brothers find themselves thrown into alternate dimensions, faced with worlds completely unlike their own. Each of the different worlds has unique settings, with different dangers to overcome. Players initially take on the roles of Phineas and Ferb in their quest, but as the game unfolds players gain access to several other characters, each of them with unique weapons and abilities.
The gameplay is vintage action-adventure. Players run around in a 3D environment, blasting enemies while collecting various objects– coins and chips, particularly– and fending off all kinds of enemies. Those familiar with the LEGO series of games will see some inspirations, including the presence of drop-in / drop-out two player multiplayer, the ability for solo players to swap between characters on the fly, and a light death penalty.
Not content to be a LEGO game clone, P&F’s game goes boldly where no cartoon game has gone before.
To call the game a LEGO clone doesn’t do justice to Phineas and Ferb, as this game is much deeper. Each character can acquire a slate of different oddball weapons, including baseball cannons and juice dispensers. Each weapon can be leveled up through combat and augmented in various ways with chips acquired in the field. Weapons also have finite ammunition counts, and while they reload automatically over time this limitation makes the game something more than a hold-down-the-fire-button affair.
In the spirit of the cartoon series, the game is oddball in a charming way. Weapons are bizarre, locations are wierd, and enemies are just plain strange. Yet the atmosphere makes for great gaming theater and the fact that the game changes things up with simple puzzles, unique boss battles, and the occasional on-rails sequence helps to keep things fresh.
Unlike most games, the extras prove to be something more than just filler. During each level coins can be acquired, and those coins can in turn be spent on minigames between levels. One minigame is an incarnation of the exasperating claw game that tortures gullible kids trying to score loot from a glass cage. A second minigame is a shameless take on Skee ball, tickets and all. Loot from the minigames can be used to purchase in-game ehancements and other goodies that, again, help keep things interesting.
The controls are good enough, if pedestrian in their originality. Everything is handled with the Wii Remote and nunchuck; there are no other control options. Waggle and IR are used at a minimum; a shake is sometimes used for melee attacks (only rarely used by players) and for escaping the grip of some enemy menace, but that’s about the extent of it in the main game. (In the “Skee ball” extra game waggle is used for throwing the ball, although it feels imprecise and tacked-on.) IR is not used in the actual game at all, although it is used, for some reason, in the game’s menu.
Bright, well-designed graphics make Phineas and Ferb very reminiscent of the original cartoon.
To its credit, Phineas and Ferb looks and sounds great. The graphics are clean and polished, sporting a cartoon feel that is pretty authentic to the source material. The settings are well designed, both artistically and technically, with a lot of variety among the levels. Likewise, the music is fun and the voice acting is solid, with some funny situational dialogue.
The game is aimed toward a younger audience, and in doing so does the little things well to make the game accessible. As mentioned before, there is no death penalty, which helps ease frustration the younger ones might have with the game. The game also uses a nifty mechanism whereby the first player is the “anchor” player, so that if player two stays put and player one moves off screen, player two is “dragged” over to where player one is. This device allows an experienced gamer to take player one and help out a young player two if there is an area that seems impassible. It’s perhaps worth noting Nintendojo tried this out with the reviewer as player one and a preschooler as player two; by nature of the aforementioned design, this game proved far more engrossing to the preschooler than any LEGO title.
If there is a limitation, it’s that Phineas and Ferb is aimed decidedly toward the young. Although it’s fairly deep, it’s not particularly hard, and for that reason some of the older child demographic that watches Phineas and Ferb may find this game beneath them. That, combined with the game’s brevity, keep it from really realizing its full potential. Even so, this game manages to excel so well in so many areas– gameplay, depth, atmosphere– that it remains a compelling option for those who love the series and the movie.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.