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Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension - Wii Review

Game Info
Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension

Wii | Disney Interactive Studios | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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15th November 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

Many parents measure the success of a kid-friendly game by the way a child behaves while playing a particular title. The actual game design could be absolutely terrible, but if their child is having a great time, then they would consider that money well spent. Sadly, it's this kind of thinking that is ultimately detracting from the industry, encouraging developers to focus less on the quality of their game and rely more on the strength of an established license. But I think it's clear to just about everyone that Disney hasn't bought into this ideology. With the recent successes of their licensed games giving them a positive reputation in the eye of the public and critics, Disney has done well for themselves lately. And so, I had no reason whatsoever to think that the new Phineas & Ferb game would bomb. Far from it, Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is a great example of family-friendly gaming goodness that both young and old can derive genuine enjoyment from. 

    At the start of the adventure, Phineas and Ferb find themselves lost in the interdimensional warp as they journey to the future with Doofenshmirtz, as per the plot of the movie. An introductory segment more or less covers the main points of the movies up until the point when the group is trying to get back to the real timeline. Then, in a way that differs from the movie, Phineas and Ferb are seen separated from everyone else as the journey begins. For the first couple portions of the game, as you go through levels, a secondary objective exists of finding your missing friends. The initial setting is a pleasant environment that sets the stage for the whole adventure, situated around Phineas and Ferb's neighbourhood. Players will make their way to six different dimensions in all, slowly venturing back to the alternate dimension using Dr. D's Dimensionator device to right whatever wrongs still exist there.

To get around, you make use of the Analog Stick on the Nunchuk, while the Wii Remote is more about commanding character actions. A single press of the A Button is used to jump while two presses will bring out your character's propeller belts for a double jump. Using the D-Pad, you can scroll through a list of gadgets you've discovered. Once you press one of the buttons on the D-Pad to change your active gadget, the HUD will appear and then disappear once again when you stop pressing relevant buttons. Action buttons will also appear in front of areas of the environment you can interact with, like the treehouse slide seen in the very first level.

As far as attacks go, pressing the B Button will fire your active gadget, and you can also shake the Wii Remote for a tornado spin (dubbed as an "Emergency Move"). Aside from this move, motion control isn't used much in this game. The only other real time when you need to shake the controller is when you're caught in some gelatin. But before you get any ideas, having minimal use of motion controls here is not a bad thing. All in all, the control mapping is easy enough to follow with no gripes to be had. And you'll also be happy to hear that combat in this game is quite entertaining too.

    As this is meant to be a co-operative experience, at all times during your adventure you'll have two characters running around on-screen. When playing by yourself, that second player is obviously controlled by the computer -- with surprising useful AI. You can assume control of him/her by pressing the 1 Button when you're on your own, but if a friend of yours wants to jump in, a press of the Plus Button will allow them to take control of the second character as per the game's drop-in co-op feature. At the end of each level, results are tabulated based on three different factors: enemies defeated, tokens collected, and overall point total. Nothing is achieved by being proclaimed the better teammate, but if you're into bragging rights, you may like having this little touch. 

    In all, there are six different gadgets you can unlock in this game meaning that there's quite a bit of variety. Some of the later choices include an Anti-Gravity Ray, a Digital Hacker, an OWCA Beacon that will add a temporary ally to your team, and a Ninja Glove for wall-jumping. Aside from the last one which you only really need once or twice in the game, the gadgets in this game are fun to use. Some of the secondary gadgets featured in some of the levels are actually inventions created by Phineas and Ferb, but when you first see them, they are merely an outline. You must first collect a series of blueprint fragments before you can build whatever contraption is needed to get to the next part of a level.

Weapons level-up through extended use, and interestingly enough, the experience levels are actually shared between both players. Most level-up's come with ability enhancements, like a homing shot for the Baseball Launcher. Each gadget also contains slots where you can insert multiple Upgrade Chips to build up attributes like damage, recharge rate, ammo capacity, and other things of that nature. You can also discover Sound and Graphic Chips that will change the sound effect your weapon makes when fired or alter its visual appearance, respectively. 

    Collectibles run rampant in each stage you visit. The most frequent of these are the multi-coloured Components where each colour represents a different point value. Either way, all Components collected will add to your cumulative total. Workbenches found within levels give you the opportunity to spend accumulated Components on the aforementioned Chips or even minor modifications (e.g, the Heavy Lifter Mod for the Anti-Gravity Ray will allow you to grab heavier enemies). Other collectibles include figure capsules that are often in well-hidden spots, blue health packs that restore HP, and Gold Tokens that can be spent on unlockables later on. 

    In speaking about the level design present in this game, I was quite impressed to see that there was such a great mix of platforming. In the Balloon Dimension, for instance, there's a level where you need to set up water balloon turrets to help you fight enemies emitting from portals. Within the same world, there are also segments where players will be running away from a swarm of bees or dodging porcupine projectiles. Also, in the second-last world, you'll be taken on a guided tour of the Robot Factory you're trying to sneak into. Jetpack-based missions appeared multiple times throughout the game, and these were kind of fun as well. Easily the best world in the entire game is the Old Timey Dimension. This world has Disney written all over it with nods to both Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willie. How unfortunate that the best world only has two stages in it.

Added reason to praise Disney for the effort they put forth in this game comes in the form of puzzle elements seen within levels. At the beginning of the game, you'll mostly be solving basic puzzles like using the Carbonator gadget to pump orange soda inside a tube. But later on, these have more of an impact on the player in the way they actually seem like a "break" from the central action. Areas too small to fit through will require you to fire a remote-controlled baseball inside a hole and direct it towards a switch at the end of a passage. Using the Digital Hacker device as your weapon of choice, there are multiple occasions in the game where players will be transported to a digital mainframe and must defend two code prisms against sprite-like enemies. In a co-operative setting, there aren't really any puzzles you can't complete on your own, but that doesn't make the puzzle-platforming any less fun.

    Other than the standard Normbot enemies, the game also features a few bosses here and there to mix things up, including a gelatin monster and a QTE-ridden giant robot fight. I found the bosses were just okay, and compared with the memorable levels, these bosses just seemed like things to rush through. Even the final boss wasn't that great; the fact that it takes a while to start up with a silly preamble didn't help its case. But having said all that, I wouldn't go so far as to say bosses drag the game down.

At the conclusion of every level, you can participate in one of two mini-games for the purpose of earning Tickets like an arcade. The first is a simple crane game, while the second is a Perry-focused Skeeball. Both are decent additions but they get repetitive very quickly. Tickets can be used towards Sound Chips, costumes, and even new characters like Baljeet and Agent Pinky (sorry, Candace isn't one of 'em). Even though they are optional, it would have been a lot better if the developers added in more bonus games, especially since you need to rely on them so much to unlock the game's many extras.

    Aside from that, though, Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is very enjoyable! This is one of those games that never becomes stale, in part because there's good variety in multiple areas of the game. Additionally, at times, the exchanges between characters add an element of humor to the game that's in line with the show. At one point, Dr. Doofenshmirtz becomes separated from the pack, prompting Phineas to ask, "You think he's okay?" Ferb then retorts, "I'm sure he is. Villains always come back in the sequel." There was another point in the game that I remembered quite distinctly where Dr. D was, for some reason, commenting about the lack of convoluted plots and a winded back-story (presumably directly referencing the game itself). Then he stops and says, "Wait, why did I list those?" The humor of the show may not totally resonate here, but it's these sorts of moments along the way that put a smile on your face in amongst the action elements players are exposed to.

For those concerned about length, let me assure you this isn't one of those games you'll want to rush through. There are a total of 30 levels in all which shouldn't take you more than six hours to plow through. Levels typically last around 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the skill level of the player and whether you choose to play on your own or with a friend. I don't expect kids to clear the game in a single setting, but it is possible. It took me roughly four hours to reach the end, but in a way it felt like I was actually playing for longer than I actually was. As I said before, though, the game's fun factor makes it so that the length isn't as much of a bother since you are enjoying yourself for much of the time you spend with the game. Plus, being the good-quality co-operative experience that it is, there's much reason to return to levels and grab the extras you missed the first time around.

    In terms of presentation, I thought the music was great, especially for a Disney game. The visuals were pretty good too, with mostly decent character models. There's a lot of voice acting in the game to make fans of the show feel welcome, and as such, the chatter amongst on-screen and off-screen characters makes for a lively and team-oriented environment. It's worth noting that in a few areas of the game, you'll experience some framerate reductions but this is always brief and far from a major flaw.

    Through their development of this game, Disney has sent a clear message to fellow developers that game design is just as important for younger audiences as it is for old. Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension does a lot of things right, which is more than I can say for the countless movie-based games that have surfaced over the years. Even more praise to the cause, in my opinion the game is more enjoyable than the movie itself. This is one of those rare cases in the history of licensed games where you'll actually be missing out if you give it a pass. With great level design, varied gameplay elements, and an overall welcoming atmosphere, Disney Interactive Studios should be proud of what they've been able to do here. Families should not give this game a miss.

25/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Great level design with mixed platforming and puzzle elements, varied weapon selection with a shared level-up system, good controls
Presentation 8/10 - Good dialogue with added voice acting, very nice presentation, smooth framerate with some lag here and there
Enjoyment 4/5 - Especially as a co-operative experience it's a lot of fun, bosses aren't enjoyable, humorous atmosphere, most levels are memorable
Extra Content 4/5 - Length shouldn't be a concern when the fun factor is fairly high, Gold Tokens to collect, lots of unlockables, repetitive bonus games

Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension
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