Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension Review
Game: Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension
Developer: High Impact Games
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Available on: PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii & Nintendo DS (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)
TV shows for kids are all over the place recently, so much so that whenever I flick through the channels there’s always one that I’ve never even heard of before. Phineas & Ferb isn’t one of those shows, it’s been around for a while and it’s always fresh, funny and a downright joy to watch. Not ones to be left behind when something technological, or just simply awesome, is going down, now they’ve got their own video game too.
Does the video game live up to the content, humour and story of the TV show or are we just getting another videogame based on something just to rake in the cash? Did I even play the game or did I just watch the four episodes that are included on the Blu-ray over and over again? Let’s find out.
STORY: The story centres around two brothers, the aforementioned Phineas & Ferb, and their adventures to create some pretty awesome gadgets throughout their summer. Things are going just about as well as you would expect from a couple of kids inventing stuff, until suddenly one of the gadgets goes a little wrong, casting the inventive duo into multiple alternate dimensions. While in these alternate dimensions, as well as figuring out how to get to the next one, they’ve got to figure out just how to get themselves home; which seems to be an annoyingly easy task for the player.
Parents that are buying their children Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension in an attempt to keep them entertained for a couple of days aren’t going to be that pleased with their purchase. Sure, the game will keep them entertained, perhaps even more so than the TV show does, because they’re actually involved in what’s happening on the screen, but the fact still remains that the main story mode is only 3 hours long, 4 at a push. The game isn’t the price of a fully fledged game from the console market but at less than half the length of some of those games, and a lot easier, some people may still feel like they’ve spent a little too much.
GRAPHICS: As a videogame of an animated TV show, Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension doesn’t do bad with what it’s got to work with. When you’re in the game itself everything looks ok, it’s not the best looking game in the world but then again it needed to look like the TV show, if it started having high polygon counts and visually stunning characters and environments it would have looked out of place. Considering that the game’s purpose is to fit as close to the visual style of the TV show as possible, it does a good job.
Where the game really shines in terms of its visuals however, is when you watch the cutscenes that are dotted around the game. These are shot just as if you’re watching an episode of the animated cartoon and, more than once, I was engrossed in them so much that I forgot to pick up the controller again when I was supposed to take control. Thankfully, for those of us that really do want to just sit back and watch a couple of episodes while we’ve got our consoles on, the PlayStation 3 version of the game comes with four episodes of the popular TV show on the disc. The first time they’ve been released on blu-ray. Pretty impressive.
SOUND: If you’re a fan of the Phineas & Ferb TV show then you’ll probably enjoy the audio quality of this videogame version of them as much as you enjoy the TV show. All of the voice acting is top notch, as you would expect from actors that get paid to do this kind of thing, and the only parts where the acting feels a little off is when it’s supposed to sound like that, as part of the joke. In terms of the audio, it can get a little bit annoying when you hear the A.I. Controlled character repeat the same thing over and over again. I couldn’t pinpoint a reason for this, and it didn’t happen every time they said something, but it did happen enough times for me to notice it; and I probably won’t be the only one.
The cutscenes in the game look great and they’re added to by some magnificent audio work. All of the voiceovers are well done, as they are in the rest of the game, but it’s the music that stands out a lot; especially in the opening cinematic. There has rarely been a game that I’ve played the intro video over and over again just to hear the music but Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension was one of those games.
GAMEPLAY: The gameplay in Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is obviously aimed towards children and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the best children’s games (and films) have jokes and content in there for the adults too. There’s nothing like that here. Parents will get a sense of enjoyment from watching their children enjoy something, and they’ll probably pick it up themselves and have a little bit of fun, but there’s nothing in here directly aimed at the older audience. Not even as a little wink like in a Pixar movie. The PlayStation Move support is very disappointing throughout the entire game, it’s very obvious that it was designed, at least initially, as a Wii game. The player never has to do anything particularly precise with the Move controller and a lot of the time, nothing at all except pressing the T button. There are a few instances where the player has to shake the Move controller to get out of certain situations, and they will have to point at the screen to select menu items some of the times, but that’s as deep as the motion controlling mechanics get. Quite disappointing considering the obvious power and precision that the PlayStation Move controller is capable of.
The mini-games that the player uses as a method of unlocking chips and trophies that occur between missions, while being fun to play on their own, aren’t varied enough. You’ll play the same two levels many times if you want to get enough tickets to collect all of the items and neither of them are very interesting, one of them is even rather derivative of the bowling game from Wii Sports, and it plays about as well too; very sluggish. While using the weapons throughout the game, players will be able to upgrade them as they would in a game such as Ratchet and Clank. This levelling mechanic gives the player a reason to focus on a single weapon but also gives them a reason to want to change things up a little, to level weapons up at the same time. The levelling of the weapons also gives players something to look forward to with each level that they increase, what will get better? What will change? There’s only one way to find out. Keep playing!
Players will also have the ability to play as 10 potential characters, and this gives the player a choice of who they want to play the game as and this, coupled with the two player co-operative side of things, gives players who would normally have put the game down a long time ago, a good reason to keep playing by giving them just a little bit of diversity in what would normally be a rather dull game for most people. One point to mention about using different characters is that it doesn’t change things in the game that much and for a game aimed squarely at children and fans of the TV show, that’s not a bad thing. Players will be able to do whatever they want as whichever character they want, they won’t be forced to play as Ferb just because he’s the only character that can do a specific task. The choice is open to the player.
LONGEVITY: As fun as Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is there is really nothing to do once players have gotten to the end of the game. There are collectibles to collect using tickets that players can win by playing the mini-games between levels, but those mini-games are so simple that most players will be able to get enough tickets to get all of the items in just a couple of attempts. If players walked around every available area, collecting everything in the game they could extend the length of the game from 3 to 4 hours to at most 4 to 5 hours but there’s nothing in the game to get people coming back for a second or third helping.
VERDICT: Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is a decent enough game, the levelling mechanic of the weapons keeps people playing and the humour keeps people coming back for more, unfortunately there simply isn’t enough of it. At about 3 hours long it feels more like a PlayStation Network title than a retail game and most parents would probably be rather disappointed when they see the credits start to roll mere hours after they’ve walked in from the shops. Those relatively major problems are holding back a gorgeous looking, easy to play game that could have been much worse than it ended up being. Here’s hoping for some pretty lengthy DLC.