Phineas and FerbESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Touch Screen compatible
The Emmy nominated animated Phineas and Ferb has jumped from the small screen onto the even smaller screen of the Nintendo DS to the delight of many fans. Prior to getting the game I had some knowledge of the show but I had never watched an episode myself. So, I walked down to my local video store and rented Phineas and Ferb so that I could have something to compare the game to. For those unfamiliar with the show the main story line revolves around two step-brothers named Phineas and Ferb who find themselves bored during summer vacation. In order to pass the time, they decide to construct various inventions which range from a backyard roller coaster, a tropical beach, modifying their mom’s car into a race car, or constructing the scariest haunted house imaginable. Throughout the episodes Candace, the older sister of the two brothers, tries to foil their plans by attempting to get their mother to notice their activities. After watching a few episodes, which were surprisingly quite enjoyable, I popped Phineas and Ferb into my DS ready to play.
Being that this is a game adapted from a television series it was not surprising that the graphics were nearly identical its television counterpart. This was a great feature as it gives one a sense that they are stepping into their own episode and taking control. Fans of the series will instantly recognize the familiar triangle and rectangle likeness of Phineas and Ferb, as well as the characters Candace, Isabella, Bufford and the rest of the supporting cast. The settings that are included in the game are also be recognizable from the television series.
The games graphics are true to their cartoon nature. They display some nice attention to detail in the settings as well as in the movements of the characters. You can really see this when the two boys have to stand one on top of the other and they sway left or right as they try to keep their balance. The game is very bright, vibrant and full of color. The only drawback to the graphics was that at times the animations felt sluggish and could appear to be blurry and out of focus. This was not anything major, just something I noticed now and then.
The music of Phineas and Ferb is a basic musical score that repeats itself throughout the game with very little variation from area to area. Though it is kind of catchy it does become a tad monotonous and has you hoping for a drastic change of tune. That being said, fans of the show should not be too disappointed.
There is very little voice acting incorporated into the game and what is there is limited to a few catch phrases like Isabella saying, “Watcha doing?” The little voice work that is available will lead to a lot of required reading. Though, it is great to get kids reading, it may detract them from wanting to play the game if they have to read too much.
Overall, the highlight of the sounds in this game is the sound effects which are quite well done. They really added to the cartoon feel of the game, from the sound of your characters jumping to the musical chime when you find scraps or collect items on the ground. I especially liked when Phineas and Ferb run at full tilt and suddenly stop on the spot. You will hear a screeching sound as the duo stops in their tracks. Phineas and Ferb’s shoes even have upgrades that allow you to change your shoes to tap shoes or shoes that squeak, and they all make different sounds.
The best way I can describe Phineas and Ferb is that it is a traditional side scroller with 3D environments. Tossed into the mix are quite a few mini-games and challenges that will keep gamers entertained and on their toes mentally. The story contains four worlds/episodes in which the boys will build a roller coaster in their backyard, drive through a muddy monster truck track, build a waterslide, or make winter happen in the middle of summer.
To achieve their wild and crazy ideas Phineas and Ferb have to collect scraps around their neighborhood to build the parts they need to construct their zany inventions. Collecting parts is fairly easy as you navigate around the neighborhood. Phineas will act as your scavenger and will jump into piles of junk and search through the debris to obtain the scrap pieces once you use the stylus to make a counter-clockwise circle. There are also toolboxes scattered throughout the worlds which contain special parts that you will need to collect to progress to the next world.
While Phineas is the scavenger, Ferb is the craftsmen of the duo. Ferb uses his aptitude towards construction to repair obstacles like lifts, box springs, doors and gates so that the duo can progress to other areas of the world(s) or grant access to toolboxes and other scrap piles. To repair obstacles Ferb will need to be equipped with the required parts to make the repair. Once the parts are in his hand you will need to complete a mini-game like hammering nails (tapping the touch screen with the stylus) or welding shapes (tracing the shape on the touch screen with the stylus) to complete the job.
The two brothers must also team up to perform special maneuvers like jumping over a large gap, walking along a rope bridge, springing over a fence with the aid of a loaded spring, or just jumping up on top of a hard to reach area. The drawback to these maneuvers is that they grab the attention and anger their nemesis, who just happens to be their sister Candace. Candace is always trying to get the boys in trouble with their mother which results in her attempting to catch the boys while they are creating their crazy inventions.
While Phineas and Ferb are exploring their neighborhood you will have to do your best to keep Candace from getting so angry that she tattles to their mother. There is a meter on the top DS screen which increases as Phineas and Ferb’s actions become more outrageous. When the meter reaches 100% you will be launched into a mini-game similar to Pac-Man but with the TV shows characters. Phineas and Ferb will have to evade Candace through a maze while collecting bolts to complete the mini-game. You have three chances to complete the mini-game before Candace captures Phineas and Ferb and tattles on them. If you are worried that you will spend half the game evading Candace, you won’t have to worry too much as Phineas and Ferb have cake to distract her and decreases her anger meter. The boys also have invisibility potions at their disposal which will aid in eluding Candace for a short time.
After you collect all your pieces to build your contraption, and you return to your backyard, you get to play another mini-game to construct your massive invention. Make sure you collect all the pieces you need because you won’t be able to move on to the addicting and fun racing challenges that come into play after you complete your structure.
I really enjoyed the racing aspect of Phineas and Ferb. In the first world you get to race your roller coaster car on a huge roller coaster. Throughout the ride you will have to collect stars and when you collect enough you will unlock other parts of the track. Littered across the roller coaster course is the equivalent of nitro which you can use to set course records, or if you have a fully upgraded vehicle you can use the nitro to gain enough speed to launch yourself into space where you get to participate in a bonus stage. During this bonus game you will take on the role of Agent P and battle Dr. Doffenshmirtz by matching icons on your touch screen to dodge falling debris and earn a perfect bonus.
The game’s stylus controls are intuitive, easy to use, and work well with the other controls of the game. This is a great surprise and adds an extra level of enjoyment to an overall well rounded title. The racing aspect of the game really stands outs from the rest of the game and is by far the highlight of the mini-games.
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