Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on September 27, 2011 in

Kid games are interesting when played by an adult. It requires two different perspectives that place different levels of importance on different aspects. Take for instance, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension for the PlayStation 3.

The game is very loosely based on the movie of the same name. In the game, titular characters Phineas and Ferb find themselves sucked into alternate dimensions in an attempt to get back to their home dimension. Along the way, they team up with the regulars on the TV show, including pet platypus Perry, older sister Candace and bumbling, evil-ish Dr. Doofenshmirtz. You’ll have to forgive me if my knowledge of the Phineas and Ferb canon is less than encyclopedic. In preparation of playing the game, my research included little more than watching a couple episodes on the Disney Channel and consulting my nine year old niece, who of course, is a fan of the show.

On the one hand, I push my very grown up glasses up the bridge of my nose and have to look at the game with an oh so grown up critical eye. That “plot” is rather ridiculous. For a game whose fiction includes an Otherdimensionator that lets characters travel to alternate universes, the story progression is strictly linear. There were no plot twists, no ramping up of the action to a climax. There was no satisfying resolution and no denouement. The pacing was flat and there was no character development.

This is where the kid in me has to interject. Character development? Story progression? Who cares? As ridiculous as the story is, it matches the tone of the show. The silly and outlandish nature of the plot is hardly a bad thing when the show is equally silly and outlandish. It’s a licensed game aimed at the show-watching audience, namely young children. This isn’t a classroom and Phineas and Ferb isn’t Shakespeare, thank goodness. In this case, simple is definitely better.

Grown up glasses back on. Visually, it just doesn’t hold up to the core titles from major publishers. Gears of War 3, it is not. Colors are flat and simplistic, with little to no complexity in textures. Animation is stiff and the sound effects are only passable. However, what a kid will remember isn’t the sound effects. They’ll remember a musical score that reminds them of the television show. They’ll remember that the cel-shaded graphics and bright color pallette make the game look very similar to what they’ve watched on their television screen.

  

Level design consists of a combination of platforming, action and flying. None of these do anything that stand out, but they have enough interactivity to keep things going. Action sequences consist of defeating enemies that swarm toward you. Flying consists of jetpacking through on-rails segments while shooting down bad guys. The most difficult of the three is the platforming, especially when it comes to moving platforms that require a good send of timing. I like to pride myself on being a core gamer that’s played his share of Mario clones throughout the evolution of the genre. But for some reason, I found myself dying a little more often than I’d like to admit despite the plentiful health packs. Taking a page from the Lego games, dying will just re-spawn your character.

One thing that both adult and kid will agree on is that the environments have plenty of variety with imaginative settings. One level has your character playing through a vintage cartoon. Another memorable level is constructed entirely from candy, allowing a character to swim through jelly and fight a gummy boss with orange soda. Yet another level is themed with garden gnomes that need your help. With 25 levels, variety is no small feat. But I believe the design of the levels help keep the game from getting too boring too quickly.

   

Every once in a while you’ll encounter puzzles that require a search of the area for the right parts. Once the needed parts are collected, building the special gadget to solve the puzzle is little more than a button press. The whole process leans toward to the much-too-easy side, but it’s a mechanic that’s in line with the spirit of the show. Phineas and Ferb use their imaginations to build things. The game certainly understands that.

The regular gadgets that your character carry around are varied and help you to traverse levels. For example, the baseball launcher was my default attack weapon against enemies while another gadget levitates object. Any of these can be upgraded with upgrade chips scattered around the game. Unfortunately, there is no sense of them improving in any way that’s significant. In the case of the baseball launcher, upgrading multiple times didn’t make the gun feel any more powerful near the and of the game compared to the beginning.

Default playable characters are Phineas, Ferb, Perry and his secret agent turtle friend, Agent T. Along the way, you can unlock other characters including Resistant Phineas and Ferb, Isabella and Baljeet. Each offer different buffs and power-ups, but their benefits seem to be only on paper. While playing the game, none of them seem to make any meaningful impact. However, this makes little difference when a second player takes control of another playable character for some co-op action. Many things, including a meaningless upgrade system, can be forgiven when there’s two player co-op involved.

I am no game developer, but it puzzles me how this is a disc based game. It doesn’t use a sophisticated physics engine. I wouldn’t dare say that the graphics are taxing the hardware of any current generation console(or last generation for that matter). The AI, both friendly and enemy, is rather rudimentary at best. I would imagine that most of the disc space is used by the four free Phineas and Ferb episodes that come with the game.

It’s not even a matter of technology. It just feels like it would be more appropriate being sold on the PlayStation Network Store.

Again, these are my grown up sensibilities being applied to a kids’ game. What would a young gamer care about? When it comes to Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, the junior gamer would care that the characters in the game are the same characters they see during the show. Luckily, the game’s character models in combination with the whimsical design of the game mechanics and environments play to that expectation. While an adult not familiar with the television series may get a little put off by the simple presentation and game play, a kid that’s a fan of the show will certainly see the appeal of playing through it.

Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.

SHARE THIS POST

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: John Catuira View all posts by

Leave A Response