Phineas and Ferb Thwart Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Inter-Dimensional Invasion
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Disney Interactive Media has done it again, and this time they’ve brought all the magic of Disney’s hit cartoon series, Phineas and Ferb, into a game that stays true to the characters, storyline and style of the show. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is adapted from the Disney movie of the same name, and follows the title’s two lovable step brothers and their allies as they travel across numerous dimensions to save their world (and alternate worlds) from the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
Across the 2nd Dimension is a fun-filled action platformer with shooter elements. Players can choose to play 1 of 8 unlockable characters, including Phineas, Ferb, Agent P (their pet platypus), a cute turtle named Agent T, and the Alternate Phineas and Ferb. Each level you enter is a different dimension/world filled with environmental puzzles and mazes that you need to navigate in order to complete the level. Along the way, players must battle Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s minions (robots or porcupine things), gather parts, build inventions, and perhaps free that world’s occupants from oppressive lawn gnomes. Luckily, in addition to their wits to aid them, the characters have multiple gadgets at their disposal, which include the Carbonator (a soda-shooter), baseball launcher, and an anti-gravity ray.
The game was pretty easy to handle, considering its target audience is children under the age of 12. Through verbal dialogue and camera panning, the developers literally pointed out each major task that you needed to complete (e.g. “Oh look! There’s x-gadget! We’ll need to find parts for it!”). Inevitably, each level would have a puzzle that needed solving (e.g. placing blocks to direct a laser stream to the right portal), or a gadget that needed building. The environment was explorable, but you really couldn`t venture too far, as you`d bump into an invisible wall that indicated you needed to go elsewhere.
I did find some of the platform puzzles difficult to navigate – but I think I need to chalk it up to poor depth perception and lack of skill on my part, as my husband had no problems jumping from area to area. It made for some hilariously frustrating co-op play, however, when I kept missing my mark and falling into the abyss – especially since I was Player 1. One thing we did notice is that Player 2’s ‘deaths’ were inconsequential (i.e. when Player 2 fell off a platform, they would reappear close to Player 1), whereas if Player 1 ‘died’ the game would force both players back to the beginning of the puzzle, regardless of Player 2’s progress. Also, during Boss battles, it seemed like the Boss would focus more on Player 1 than on Player 2. For example, when we were up against a Furry Cube boss, it kept charging at Player 1, and it was Player 1 that had to lead it to its doom.
The developers also added some environmental challenges to platforms, such as wind blowing you in the opposite direction, balloon or cloud surfaces that would spontaneously pop, or train tracks that dropped off. Thank the powers that be that it’s a children’s game, so you don’t really die. You get infinite retries from the last closest platform, but beware, your health depletes with each fall. When your HP runs out, your character resurrects on the platform unconscious, and you need to shake the controller to breathe life back into him. Then, it’s a matter of finding health packs to replenish your HP bar to 100%, and it`s best to do it quick, lest you get ambushed by hordes of robots teleporting from another dimension!
After a level is completed, there’s a cut-scene that tallies up each player’s points (e.g. number of parts collected, number of coins found, and number of enemies defeated). It then takes you to a screen where you can play two mini-games (the Claw or Skee Ball), which are a nice break from the puzzles and shooting. You need coins to play the games, and judging by the colour of your prize in the Claw or the number of points you get in Skee ball you’ll get a certain amount of tickets awarded to you. These tickets can then be used to purchase in-game add-ons, such as sound effects, robots, or Agent P’s chattering.
While you could play this game with two players, it also allows for single-player with an AI-controlled companion. There are a few areas where you need each character to do their own thing autonomously, but you can switch from one character to the other with a simple press of a button. For example, you’d have to maneuver one character onto a trigger to leave a door open, while the other character entered the new area. This was easily done through a split-screen. No fuss, no muss.
The game uses cel-shaded graphics, so it looks and feels like you’re playing in the actual Phineas and Ferb cartoon. Vibrant colours and multi-layered backgrounds made the environments fun to explore. Each level has its own theme to it, such as a high-tech laboratory, worlds made of gelatine or balloons, or even a 1928 era dimension done in black and white with your characters running around in full colour. I really liked the black and white level, as it created an interesting visual contrast. There are also cut-scenes which progress the story. I found it a bit odd, because when compared to the game’s graphics, the cut-scene animations seemed grainy and slightly off. It was like the cut-scene graphics were at a lower resolution than the rest of the game, since you could see jagged pixels in the character outlines.
The sound effects and voice acting were phenomenal. The sound effects were entertaining and made things sound as they should. Each weapon had its own sound effect. For example, the baseball launcher spoing’ed when lobbing baseballs at enemies, and then made a mechanical sound when it was out of ammo; The Carbonator sounded like pop being sprayed from a high-pressured nozzle. Since the game has several of the voice actors from the Phineas and Ferb show, it bolstered the feeling of playing within the cartoon, especially with the humorous dialogue.
The game also stays true to the style of Phineas and Ferb, with tons of humour and allusions that are geared towards the older generations. For example, the 1928 style dimension pays homage to Disney’s Steamboat Willie, as the beginning of the level sees our two characters on a steamboat captained by Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Also, some levels are straight-up shooters reminiscent of Space Harrier and classic arcade space-shooters, where your characters fly around on jet-packs as evil eyes and robots attack. Add to that the one-liners from Ferb (e.g. “Oh, don’t worry. Monsters always survive to come back for a sequel”), and you’ve got a game that adults won’t mind playing as well.
Overall, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is an extremely fun, action-packed adventure. It’s definitely great for its target audience, and some teenagers and adults (especially if they’re fans of Phineas and Ferb). Like the show, this game is filled with tongue-in-cheek humour and homages that are geared towards the adults. While co-op mode makes Player 2 seem inconsequential at times, I think it could be excused as this is quite obviously a family game, and that mechanism allows Mommy/Daddy to take control as Player 1 with younger children playing and being tugged along. However, the quality of the cut-scene graphics remains a mystery to me, as I find it strange that they’re at a lower resolution than the actual game graphics. For sheer entertainment value, I rate this game a 4.5 out of 5, and would recommend it for all families, adults who are young at heart, and fans of the show.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is available on the PS3 (and is PS3 Move compatible), Wii, and DS. Also, there are 4 episodes of Phineas and Ferb included with the PS3 game!
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