Review By: Jared Black
|Developer:||High Voltage Software|
|# Of Players:||1-4|
|Accessories:||GameCube controller, Nunchuk, Dolby Pro Logic II|
One of Cartoon Network’s best shows these days is The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. With its unlikely trio of heroes and quirky sense of humor, the show has remained a bright spot for the network. The game of the same name allows players to duke it out with most of the characters from the show in a Super Smash Bros. type setting, although the somewhat basic gameplay prevents it from being a true classic like Nintendo’s offering.
The actual battling is fairly repetitive, as each character has the same few basic attacks including a light (but faster) hit, hard hit, dash attack, and Mojo attacks. The latter are made available as players collect Mojo balls, filling up the Mojo Meter at the top of the screen. Fill it up once and a Mojo Smackdown move becomes available (and can be used against one opponent); fill it up twice, and a Mojo Meltdown move can be unleashed against all opponents on the screen. Unlike some other fighters with similar setups it actually makes sense to save up for a full Mojo Meltdown in this game, as the move automatically takes one life from each opponent (all players usually start out with three) and also destroys all enemy NPCs onscreen at the time.
While that’s as basic as fighting games come these days, a bit of variety is offered in the form of useable items. A number of different items are found in treasure chests scattered around each level, including power ups to restore health or boost speed, melee weapons with varying properties, ranged weapons, and throwable weapons. Although there is a great deal of variety in the number of weapons offered, as far as actual functionality is concerned they really only perform in one of several ways.
Although the game controls differently on Wii than it did on GameCube, it’s actually pretty similar in the overall feel. The default Wii-specific controls come in the form of swinging the Remote left or right to initiate hard attacks, swinging the Remote up or down to perform a jump attack while in air, and swinging the Nunchuk up or down to execute Mojo attacks. There are five controls schemes in all for the Wii Remote, with the rest switching up things like how you light attack (move the remote rather than use B), dash (again, move the remote side to side), and a few button changes, but on the whole this sort of game just doesn’t really benefit from the Wii’s unique controller. Honestly these add very little to the experience, which makes the included GameCube controller support (which can be used while others use the Remote & Nunchuk at the same time) most welcome.
Fortunately, the most impressive area of the game lies in the stages themselves, and they help keep the fights interesting when the battling starts to grow stale. It’s not so much the stages themselves, but rather all of the chaos taking place within them at once. Most stages are chaotic multi-area experiences that change quite frequently, with a number of elements that alter the strategy in each fight including huge monsters, various NPCs that attack all players, and environmental hazards. For example, in one stage you’ll start out in a cemetery full of evil walking pumpkins. After you battle there for a while, you’ll move on to a city street where a giant King Kong-sized walking pumpkin chases the players while spewing bile. Finally, if you battle long enough you’ll enter a third area and finish off the fight. Although these types of transitions aren’t totally dynamic and nothing new to the genre, I was still impressed to see this kind of attention to detail in a licensed game essentially aimed at younger gamers.
With constant chaos in each battle, the action can be a little confusing to follow, particularly when your character is thrown all the way across the screen and then warped back into the level (which happens often) or gets behind another group of players or NPCs. This isn’t helped any by the finicky camera, which switches between staying fixated on an overview of the entire area and tracking players as they battle. When the camera is pulled all the way back, it can be hard to see the action that’s occurring in the background of a level. When it tries to track players as a group, it frequently becomes confused and either leaves some players out of the picture for a brief moment, or swings wildly to focus on one while ignoring the rest.
Posted: 2007-01-17 20:29:18 PST