Thursday, August 27, 2020

Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (PS3)

Note: The following review contains spoilers for the Phineas and Ferb game and movie Across the 2nd Dimension.

We have talked about High Impact Games before on this blog; made up of former Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog employees, their first three offerings were based in Ratchet & Clank (Size Matters, Secret AgentClank) and Jak and Daxter (The Lost Frontier), though their Ratchet & Clank games would later be officially confirmed as non-canon as of Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus. Following Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier and coinciding with the premiere of Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, a video game adaptation by High Impact Games known as Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension was developed for a number of platforms, including PlayStation 3. Though I acquired this game shortly before watching the movie it was based on, I decided to hold off until after watching the movie in order to avoid spoiling myself on the movie. Now that I have played it, I can say it was enjoyable and worth waiting until after the movie to play it, though I did have some small annoyances with it.

Following a quick visual recap of the movie up to the third act, the main story of the game takes place during the events of the “Brand New Reality” sequence, in which Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Perry and Dr. Doofenshmirtz travel through multiple dimensions to get back to their own. This is a rather clever choice on the part of the developers, as it allows for a number of gameplay opportunities without contradicting the events of the movie or being a straight adaptation. That being said, the final dimension presented in the game is one based on the 2nd Dimension, which makes some amount of sense in the context of gameplay to try and give it an end goal, however in the context of the movie it comes dangerously close to contradicting it, with the only thing attempting to save it being a timeskip after the final boss to the end of the movie from 2nd Dimension!Phineas’ perspective.

The gameplay is somewhat similar to Ratchet & Clank, with Phineas and Ferb (plus other playable characters) being able to use a variety of gadgets (at least of which, the Baseball Launcher, is actually present in the movie) that level up (max. 4) the more they are used. Gadgets can be further upgraded using Chips made from Components found in destructible objects or from killing enemies, as well as unlockable Mods that change aspects of the gadget on an aesthetic level. There is some platforming present in the game, however it utilizes a fixed camera angle during platforming segments rather than from-behind third-person. There are also some rail-shooter sections to represent travel between some locations, allowing the gameplay to not feel too monotonous.

One primary feature of the game is that a second player can drop in and drop out at any time, with the second character otherwise controlled by the AI; while the AI is good, it’s generally more fun to play with a second person, plus gadgets upgrade faster if both players are using them. Another gameplay element is the need to build different gadgets (different from the ones used for regular gameplay) to advance in some parts of the game. When this occurs, you have to search for the parts for it within a particular area, then return to a blueprint at your destination to construct the gadget.

Aside from Components, it’s also possible to find 5 Tokens in most levels, many of which are cleverly hidden just out of view and require a clean sweep of the level. Between each level is an arcade minigame that requires Tokens to play, with a choice between a claw machine and Skee-Ball. Each game gives you Tickets to redeem for unlockables, among which include extra playable characters, plus the claw machine gives you a chance to obtain some collectible Figures that can be viewed in the pause menu. Aside from trying the claw machine a few times, I ended up using my Tokens in Skee-Ball, mainly due to my own familiarity with the real-life game and the fact you get multiple chances to obtain something in that game rather than just one.

Phineas (right) and Ferb (left) battling Normbots.

One minor annoyance I faced with the gameplay has to do with the pause screen. Every time you pause the game, you have to wait for the screen to dim before the menu actually comes up. The entire process takes about three seconds every time, but exiting the pause screen is instantaneous. This didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game too much, however it was a bit confusing the first couple times I paused the game and is something to keep in mind. Since I only played the PS3 version, I don’t know if this is exclusive to that platform or if other versions have this issue as well.

Visually, the graphics match the look of Phineas and Ferb perfectly, showing how surprisingly well the character designs translate to a 3D space. Aside from the series characters, new designs for enemies and environments, as well as the exclusive character Terry the Turtle (Agent T) that cameoed in the movie, look just like they had come out of the show itself. Helped by this is the show’s voice actors reprising their roles for the game, giving it a more authentic Phineas and Ferb experience.

Much like the show itself, Across the 2nd Dimension features a handful of songs, including one original song, “Gotta Get Gone”. The main menu screen prominently features the previously-mentioned “Brand New Reality”, mixed such that it loops seamlessly during the second half of the song if you wait long enough. This song, alongside “Robot Riot” and “Perry the Platypus”, are otherwise among the game’s soundtrack during gameplay.

One selling point of the PS3 version of Across the 2nd Dimension is the inclusion of four Phineas and Ferb episodes “for the first time on Blu-ray”, which can be accessed under the “Video” section of the PS3’s Xross Media Bar. For reference, the episodes in question are “Mom’s Birthday” (S1E11a), “I Scream, You Scream” (S1E12b), “Dude, We’re Getting the Band Back Together” (S1E14) and “Comet Kermillian” (S1E25b).

Though short, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is a very enjoyable Phineas and Ferb experience. Despite potential issues with the story and minor tidbits on the technical side, it has some good variety and uses the Ratchet & Clank style of gameplay to its advantage. Combined with the use of the show’s voice actors and the quality of the songs, this game is an instant recommendation for Phineas and Ferb fans, though it is highly recommended that anyone wishing to play this game watch the movie Across the 2nd Dimension first, as it assumes you know the story beforehand.

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