The Legend of Zelda introduced direct game saves to NES owners in 1987. Twenty years later, a few sad games still haven't figured out this standard feature. THQ's Drake & Josh, yet another Nickelodeon-licensed game, is among the password-stricken. No, this isn't a huge problem overall (the passwords are only four numbers long), but it is a good indication of how little effort was put into the production of this game.
Drake & Josh reeks of the kind of situation where a developer has an established game engine and a generic game design sitting around, and a big name publisher comes along proposing to slap licensed characters onto that framework. Aside from the lame, text-based dialogue between levels, this game has nothing to do with the show it is based on. I know, because I forced myself to watch two episodes on Nickelodeon while playing through the game. It's about two teenage brothers; one is smart and geeky, the other is a girl-crazy guitar player. They get into crazy situations thanks to their literally evil sister Megan, who plays pranks on them and basically just ruins their lives for no good reason. The show is heavily based on physical comedy, which isn't conveyed at all in the GBA "adaptation".
You play through two (yes, only two) different environments, the school and the movie theater, taking turns controlling each brother. Drake, the musician, sneaks around to avoid teachers, ushers, and security cameras, but stealth goes out the window when he needs to play a quick guitar solo to lure in a pretty girl. Drake uses girls like mindless drones and casts them aside once they have opened a door or pressed a switch for him. These levels have strict time limits and can be very frustrating, especially when trying to walk past the inexplicable paintball guns mounted to the walls, which fire paintballs that inexplicably bounce off surfaces and stun you for a few seconds.
Josh's levels are completely puzzle-based and are much more fun, though probably too difficult for this game's target audience, pre-teen girls who are too stupid to realize how awful the TV show is. These portions of the game are just one block-pushing puzzle after another, and eventually these have a time limit as well, making for a fairly intense experience. Fans of Zelda dungeons and such would enjoy these puzzles if they could soldier on through Drake's poor-man's-Metal-Gear levels.
There are also a few mini-games with overly complicated controls and zero fun. After encountering them in the "adventure," you can play them anytime…by entering a separate password. Good grief.
Drake & Josh is yet another mediocre licensed GBA game with awful production values and occasional flashes of quality buried too deep to be worth your consideration. Your daughter might be sufficiently occupied by it if she's too lost in her own fantasies of making out with Drake to realize that the game has nothing to do with the show.