The latest Ratchet & Clank game is wearing a Disney costume
While Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is based on an upcoming television movie for Disney's popular cartoon, the game play will feel very familiar to fans of Insomniac Game's famous lombax and robot.
That's because the PS3 and Xbox 360 title is developed by High Impact Games, the group of former Insomniac Games and Naught Dog developers who created Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and Secret Agent Clank.
In the game players can take on the roles of Phineas, Ferb, their second dimension versions, Agent P, Agent T or a plethora of other unlockable characters. The idea is that the step-brothers find themselves in an alternate universe where the typically bumbling Dr Doofenshmirtz is competent and rules the Tristate Area.
The game is a fairly straight-forward action platformer, setting itself apart with the clever writing and voice acting of the Disney show as well as High Impact's clever level design and a neat assortment of tools for the brothers to use.
Those weapons include a baseball launcher, a gun that shoots out carbonated orange drink from a soda bottle strapped to the back of the kids and a device that allows the characters to climb over walls.
The ability to drop in and out of cooperative play is a big plus for the title, but it's lack of any sort of online or open world play could diminish its replayability.
Disney Interactive Studio folk say they hope the game's unlockable weapons and characters will entice gamers to replay through the game's 25 levels.
The levels Tristan and I checked out at an event in Time Square's Minskoff theatre had us bouncing through a balloon level while taking out evil robots with our weapons. While most of the game seems to be viewed from above, looking down at the action from an angle, there were levels that had gamers playing up the screen or even into the screen. In one of those levels, the characters were flying on jet packs, trying to gun down and avoid approaching enemies.
What struck me most about the game was the subtle way in which it provided a deep experience without becoming inaccessible to younger gamers or boring for older ones. Platforming can be a challenging game genre for people new to video games, but in this case the characters all have a double jump that pops a helicopter out of their backpack, allowing them to essentially hover to safety if they miss a jump. It doesn't really take away from the experience if you're someone used to these sorts of games, because you're rarely going to use that second jump. But it allows those new gamers a chance to enjoy the game without getting too frustrated.
The varied level design, eclectic weapons and characters popular among children, and yes their parents, will likely make this a popular summer title when it hits this August.
As Tristan told me later, it's no Toy Story 3, but it's near the top of his list of children's games hitting this year.