Wii

North America

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

by Michael Cole - December 22, 2006, 11:56 pm PST
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6.5

Player two needs ham badly!

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy on Cartoon Network is among the best animated shows currently on the air. Like so many other greats, Billy & Mandy smuggles adult humor through a child-friendly visage, making its episodes fun for the whole family. Midway's The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy on Wii successfully transfers the franchise's cheerfully morbid persona into an amusing, if shallow, fighter.

The show centers on little Mandy and her imbecile friend Billy, who have hoodwinked the Grim Reaper into being their best friend forever over a bet. Grim is a jolly reaper and rather lax at his job. Borderline evil Mandy associates herself with Grim to see (and exploit) his supernatural gizmos, treasures, and buddies. Billy thoroughly enjoys being the subject of Mandy's abuse and may as well be Stimpy (from The Ren & Stimpy Show) with his disgustingly endearing habits.

So why bother with the back-story? Midway worked very closely with Cartoon Network's staff to make an authentic B&M experience, and it shows. The game's story mode is simply another of Grim and Company's off-kilter, self-demeaning adventures, written, directed, and voice acted by Cartoon Network staff. Whether you're new to Billy & Mandy or a long-time viewer, you'll appreciate the energy spent and suddenly realize a fighter's story modes don't have to be totally void of story.

It's a shame the story mode isn't longer, too, because it is the best reason to play the game. Not that the gameplay is horrible—it's quite playable—but it is only good for short spurts. Up to four players can choose among many characters from the grim world of Billy & Mandy, such as "special" monster Fred Fredburger; hapless nerd Irwin; or Billy's dimwitted dad, Mogar. The free-for-all carnage ensues with an overhead view similar to Power Stone for the Dreamcast. Players can whoop each other with quick or strong attacks, or they can grab and use various items ranging from cursed swords to the banana crossbow. The levels are similarly quirky, as a battle will often progress through two or three distinct stages. For example, a skirmish in The Pumpkin Patch will find itself chased downtown by a menacing pumpkin monster, and a battle starting in the Chicken Mines will somehow find its way to the roof of a school bus.

But all of its clever gizmos and silly level designs cannot save the game from underdeveloped fighting mechanics. Players move around with the control stick, dash with Z, and grab with C. Players jump (and double-jump) with A, perform a light attack with B, and flick the remote for a heavy attack. If you can collect enough mojo (balls of energy) scattered about the level, you can perform one of two powerful attacks by flicking the nunchuck. To deliver the final KO, you must rather uncomfortably aim the Wiimote to highlight a series of circles on the screen. Overall this scheme would be fine, except every character handles sluggishly—in fact, every character handles identically, resulting in an unsatisfying, mushy slash-a-thon. What's more, the promising weaponry gets lost in the chaos, since characters drop their items upon taking any damage. In short, the battles get old fast. I suppose you could switch things up by plugging in a GameCube controller, which uses buttons for the heavy attack and the final KO sequence, but the differences are minimal.

Billy & Mandy has the beginnings of a decent fighting game, but its unrefined battle system is only suitable as party fodder. Billy & Mandy is worth a rental for its excellent, funny video game adaptation of the show, but fifty bucks is far too steep for this quick GameCube port.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7.5 8.5 7 6 5 6.5
Graphics
7.5

What Billy & Mandy lacks in technical prowess it makes up for in style. It may not look exactly like its TV source material, but the cel-shaded models and paper-like environments capture Grim's spirit well enough. Even though it's a GameCube port and the target audience will not care, Midway should be shamed for a lack of widescreen or progressive scan support.

Sound
8.5

A cartoonish mix of faux-orchestrated and spooky tunes appropriately accompany the game's story and battles. The vocalized song for the final boss is especially notable. The voice actors are very funny, though they become repetitive during battle. Billy & Mandy gets brownie points for its game announcer.

Control
7

The Mario Party responsiveness will not win Billy & Mandy any awards, whether you're using a Wii remote + nunchuck or a slightly more precise GameCube controller. What's in place is adequate, but The Boogey Man and Billy should not feel the same.

Gameplay
6

Billy & Mandy features a variety of modes, but they all feel more or less the same. Whether you're gunning for your opponents, smacking hordes of ghouls, or capturing flags, you'll be dealing with the same mediocre controls and moderately useful weapons. Even so, the game can provide short pockets of mindless fun with buddies.

Lastability
5

Completing missions will unlock plenty of characters, item sets and other options, but they play just like the rest of the game. This multiplayer game is best served in small doses with multiple friends.

Final
6.5

As interactive entertainment, Billy & Mandy falls short, but it is still a shining example of how publishers should embrace licensed material. If Midway and High Voltage had put as much care into its gameplay, this game would have been a real winner.

Summary

Pros
  • Creative, interactive environments
  • Lots of secrets to unlock
  • Very funny script and performances
  • Zany characters and items
Cons
  • Characters handle identically and muddily
  • It's button-mashing time!
  • Smaller levels are a bit confining
  • Story is very short
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Box Art

Genre Fighting
Developer High Voltage Software
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Release Nov 16, 2006
PublisherMidway
RatingEveryone 10+
eu: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Release Mar 16, 2007
PublisherMidway
Rating12+
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