Yet another licensed game that just doesn't make the cut.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is the third Phineas and Ferb game to hit the Nintendo DS, and it is loosely based on the recent Disney Channel movie of the same name. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, it’s a hugely popular children’s show that’s been running since 2007. It stars Phineas and Ferb, two precocious kids who are on summer vacation and have crazy adventures.
At the start of the game, Phineas, Ferb, and company have been trapped in an alternate dimension by a double of the series’ usual antagonist, Dr. Doofenshmirtz. And that’s about it for the game’s story, save for the regular cut scene that precedes each new stage, but acts as nothing more than a way to introduce each new area.
The game plays as a fairly straightforward 3D platformer, in which the main lure is the ability to switch between three characters, Phineas, Ferb, and their pet platypus Perry. Each character has a unique weapon that is used to solve puzzles and defeat different enemies. Phineas’ weapon rapidly fires baseballs at foes, and can be used to push switches that are required for many of the game’s rudimentary puzzles. Ferb’s gun emits electricity when fired, and is needed to take out certain enemies and to power conveyor belts and platforms. And lastly, Perry is equipped with a grapple gun, which is used to remove shields from enemies and yet again, activate switches. Upgrades for each weapon are scattered throughout the game, though they do little more than increase their damage and special attack’s range. Ferb and Perry also have character-specific abilities: Ferb is able to hack doorways and vehicles in order to make use of them, while Perry can perform a wall jump and jump-stomp move that is seemingly ripped straight from Super Mario 64.
It would seem that the character differences add variety, but that, sadly, is the not the case. The gameplay remains mostly stagnant for all of its five worlds (called dimensions), as you kill the same enemies and complete the same boring puzzles in each new level. This is made even worse by the lackluster enemy AI, as many of the enemies do little more than spawn and wait for you to kill them. You fight the same robots in every new stage, with the exception of a few themed enemies that are unique to their dimension, but in reality are nothing more than reskins. The game is embarrassingly easy, even with the game’s target audience, young children, in mind.
The game is also littered with rather annoying mini games that must be completed in order open doors and take control of vehicles. These range from using the touch screen to complete a circuit to a very simple puzzle game that plays similarly to the Bust-a- Move series. Sadly these do little more than break up the action, and I dreaded each lackluster instance.
Along with mini games that are used to advance in the normal levels, there are also stages that depart from the usual formula. These are actually somewhat enjoyable, at least when compared with the rest of the game. The levels range from an R-Type-like shooter to a 3D chariot race in which you must dodge obstacles. These can also be accessed via download play, where you can compete for a high score with up to three other players.
The game’s dimensions are set up in much the same way as the overworld map in New Super Mario Bros’. Each dimension, excluding the fifth, has seven stages to conquer before you are able to progress to the next. The dimensions all have a unique theme, such as Egyptian and toys. It would have been nice if the variety that exists with art direction also made its way to the rest of the game. The last stage of each dimension is reserved for the boss. Each boss is scripted and follows a unique pattern. Despite being relatively easy, the bosses are actually a welcome diversion form the rest of the game.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is a game with great potential, but nothing that the developers seem to have set out to accomplish has been fully fleshed out. Perhaps if the game’s difficulty and level design were improved, it could have served as a nice diversion for fans of the TV series. But as it, it’s just another lackluster licensed game to add to the list.