Amongst all the greyed-out warzones and hard-edged muscle-men with tragic pasts, Disney’s light-hearted fare has been a breath of fresh air at this year’s E3. The first title I got to check out on my guided tour was Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension, based on the upcoming movie of the same name. WAIT! Don’t hit that ‘back’ button just yet! Even though it’s a game based on a movie based on a TV show, Second Dimension is shaping up to be a fun little kid-friendly platforming romp.
The game, coming to the Wii, DS, and PS3, sees the titular characters and several of their friends sucked into another dimension, where everyone is the exact opposite of their normal selves. In a potentially interesting plot development, this world’s Dr. Doofenshmirtz is the epitome of evil, leaving our beloved normal version to question whether he is truly a villain or not.
To escape from the second dimension, players pick a popular character from the show, such as Phineas or Perry the Platypus, and blast their way through killer robots to complete objectives. This is accomplished through the use of several weapons, such as a baseball launcher or the carbonator, which shoots concentrated blasts of orange soda. The action gets pretty hectic at times, with plenty of projectiles to avoid and over-the-top special effects.
On the other side of the coin are the puzzles. The one I played was pretty basic—I had to use a stasis gun to carry parts of a machine to an assembler so I could complete the level. It was made more difficult by having to dodge lots of enemy fire, but nothing too complex. It should all be easy to understand for the younger intended audience.
The Wii and DS versions of the game are in development at Ultron Games, while the PS3 version (which I played) is being handled by High Impact Games. It makes sense that different studios are making the different versions, as the Wii and DS titles feature an important gameplay element—coop. In these versions, two people can pick their favourite character and work together, a critical aspect in a game that parents are sure to want to use to spend time with their kids. The PS3 SKU doesn’t feature a multiplayer component, instead having a partner character follow you around, letting you switch to them at any time. To help make up for this deficiency, the PS3 version does feature Move support for menu navigation, and the Blu-Ray actually comes with episodes from the TV show that have never been released on DVD.
What really sold me on the Phineas and Ferb feeling, outside of the wacky story, was the art style. The game features a bright, cel-shaded aesthetic that feels like a 3D version of the cartoon. The framerate seemed solid, and the giant factory I was running around in seemed plucked straight from the show. There will be 25 levels in the final game, meaning a wide variety of environments to tool around in. Hopefully they feel different enough from one another to maintain interest in exploring them. Adding to the authenticity is voicework from the original actors and constant creative input from the show’s creators.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension arrives alongside the movie this August.