“Code Lyoko” is one of those TV series that has a loyal cult following but if you’re outside of that circle of fans, you might be easily confused. It actually combines standard animation with fairly advanced CGI, and the premise features Kadic Junior High and the students' ongoing battle with Xana, an evil supercomputer. No, we didn’t make this up. In some ways, it reminds us of the concept we found in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, where high school students entered a parallel dimension through a tower at night, but we’re relatively certain that Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity is a completely different type of game. Coming in June, Neko Entertainment has prepared this port for the PSP and PS2 (it was a Wii title in 2007), and players will switch back and forth between a 2D world – where you check your equipment and items and prepare for battle – and the 3D world, which is, of course, inside Lyoko. Xana created this false world, ala “The Matrix,” in order to take over and rule the real world. Really, it’s not too complex.
From what we’ve heard, Code Lyoko boasts a combination of platforming and traditional combat elements. However, this title is designed for fans of the show, which means it’ll be geared towards younger gamers, so we’re not expecting anything too taxing in either area. For example, the platforming will probably include some simple running and jumping, but not much else. And the real fun will happen when you’re smack dab in the midst of a fake world generated by Xana, each complete with its very own environment, enemies and puzzles. Working your way through the wide variety of areas, like the Desert Sector, will be a unique experience. There are a few running constancies in each level, though: those of you who remember “Tron” – and you better damn well remember that movie! – will recall those colored lines of computerized code constantly running along the walls and floors. Well, we’ll see that again in Code Lyoko, although it’ll probably be a bit more visually pleasing. This is 2008, after all. And when an enemy is vanquished, he’ll bust apart in a trillion electronic pieces.
Speaking of taking out opponents, the fighting is all about special abilities. In the same way that each generated fake world has different features, each of the students have different skills, which means each character will deal with danger in their own way. For example, Odd can actually slow down time (bullet time?) while Yumi can take control over weak-minded enemies with her neat-o telepathic ability. Ulrich creates two holographic images of himself, and while they’re not real, they certainly deal a very real amount of damage…three times the damage Ulrich could’ve done on his own, obviously. Furthermore, the battle-hardened students will each have their very own weapons, too. Ulrich has his sword, Odd has laser shots, Yumi chucks fans and Aelita fires orbs of energy at enemies. Tapping the button will cause the character to attack quickly, but you can also hold down the button to deliver a more powerful, albeit slower, strike. The special abilities drain a blue magic meter, although we’re not quite sure how you refill that meter… Well, we can guess that it will involve dispatching as many enemies as possible. Essentially, this seems like a straightforward combat mechanic that won’t take long to master.
But the singular character skills don’t end there. These days, just about everyone is clamoring for some form of multiplayer or co-op play, and while Code Lyoko is only a single-player adventure, you will be using each of the four characters on a continual basis. It’s a most appreciated teamwork factor for the gameplay, and it should help to add an entirely new dimension to the game. For example, Odd has crazy agility and can leap from wall to wall while Aelita can fly/glide to platforms that are unreachable by any other character. Best of all, Neko Entertainment appears to have streamlined the process of switching between the students as best they can: all you gotta do is select with the D-pad. Not only is this a speedy mechanic, but it’s one that opens the door for a little more brainwork and experimentation, and we never have any problem with that. In fact, after doing the research for this game, we firmly believe switching between characters on the fly will be the most alluring factor of Code Lyoko.
We do have a few unanswered questions about the process, though. For instance, when we’re not using a character, does their health and special move meter slowly refill? It’s a feature we’ve seen in games before, and it might do a world of good when encountering particularly difficult adversaries. In the end, we predict Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity to be a decent PSP and PS2 title that stands out in a crowd of rehashes and sequels. At the very least, it has an original foundation – mostly thanks to the ingenuity of the TV show, of course – and that alone means the game has a chance at being good.
5/3/2008 Ben Dutka