Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension Review
There was a time when games designed specifically for kids weren’t very good; they suffered from lower budgets, less talented studios, and poor marketing. But these days, games like Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension give children a chance to play something diverse, colorful and accessible. They’re not especially polished and they tend to wear a little thin after the first few hours, but they’re certainly playable. There are better games for kids in existence but if you’ve got kids who are big fans of this dynamic duo, this title is worth a look. It helps that it’s offered at a cheaper-than-usual $39.99 and you get plenty of bang for your buck.
Graphically, the game is surprisingly sharp and refined, even if it lacks that extra coat of gloss we’ve come to expect from top-tier games. The bottom line is that it fits the cartoon almost perfectly; there’s a lot of zaniness and kookiness, and there’s a lot to like about each environment. The special effects are a tad bland and one could harp on the smaller visual drawbacks, but when you’re eight years old, will you really care? For what it is, The 2nd Dimension offers a solid, likeable presentation, and the characters are nicely drawn. Personally, I think this particular visual style is a little bland and lacks definition, but that’s a subjective opinion. These graphics really are fitting and in some ways, quite unique.
The sound is helped along by competent voices and some really catchy pieces of music. There’s too much repetition (a fault thankfully not repeated by the gameplay) but due to the relative quality, this can be forgiven. For some reason, I think some characters are better voiced than others, which indicates a lack of performance balance, but again, subjectivity comes into play. Some of the levels could’ve used extra tracks just to spice ‘em up but for the most part, the audio is pleasant, appropriate, and well implemented. The fans and young ‘uns are the targeted audience, and my guess is that they’ll be satisfied.
Phineas and Ferb are all about inventiveness and creativity, which is by far the most attractive element of this vibrant adventure. There’s a great sense of humor, plenty of varied design, and this constant lighthearted feel that makes the game enjoyable at all times. It’s never frustrating (even if it is much too easy, even for kids) and I believe that fans will play this one with smiles on their faces. It’s recognizable and best of all, it’s a simple pick-up-and-play production with plenty of gameplay diversity. Many strange dimensions await your eager eyes and there’s a goofy new challenge around every turn. It works, you know?
Dr. Doofenshmirtz has opened a portal with the help of his amazing otherdimensionator, and Phineas and Ferb find themselves in an alternate reality. Each reality shows their hometown of Danville, only with a bizarre twist; for instance, their first trip to an “alternate” Danville reveals massive globs of purple goop spread all over the place. It’s none too friendly; the town never seems to be friendly in these otherworldly realities. There will always be something to do and it’ll always be new: one minute you’re battling invading robots and the next, you’re grinding down slides, flying around with a jetpack, or jumping and leaping through yet another distorted atmosphere. They just keep switching it up.
It’s this freshness that keeps us entertained, although the control isn’t always perfect. Because there are just so many mechanics involved, there’s bound to be a few instances where the control trips and stumbles. And although this does happen occasionally, the developers do a decent job of minimizing the eccentricities. The camera usually isn’t a problem and the control, while often a little loose in some cases, suffices. Plus, there’s some added depth concerning your progression: you can level-up your nifty gadgets by taking them to workbenches; by doing so, you can obtain all sorts of helpful abilities and upgrades. It’s fun to experiment.
The only big problem is that our sense of accomplishment is greatly diminished due to a lack of a challenge. It’s really just too easy, even for the younger crowd. Also, when we examine each individual aspect of the game, we usually find an unremarkable yet still distinct flaw. This game is greater than the sum of its parts, but there are several instances where you go, “eh, that might be an issue…even if I can ignore it.” Still, fans might get a charge out of taking down towering bosses, and the fact that death isn’t punished at all might be a good thing. And the comical style is genuinely funny and engaging, which is another bonus that keeps you coming back for more. That's always a bonus.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is a decent, entertaining effort that is sure to appeal to fans of the TV show. Speaking of that show, the PlayStation 3 version feature four full episodes, so that’s a purchase incentive right there. It’s way too easy, nothing about the production is especially noteworthy (besides the colorful and loony artistry), and there are a few slight control issues. But it’s undeniably fun, the variety is top-notch, it’s a sufficiently long adventure, and the depth afforded by upgrading weapons and exploring vastly different dimensions is praiseworthy. It might make for a good birthday present.
The Good: Spirit of the cartoon is captured well. Genuinely funny. A lot of diversity and variety. Colorful, accessible, and entertaining. Fun for two players.
The Bad: Some underwhelming effects. Control isn't always perfect. Difficulty is too low, even for kids.
The Ugly: Nothing "ugly" here.
8/18/2011 Ben Dutka