Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures

Of the shows in Cartoon Network’s classic roster, one of their heaviest hitters was Ed, Edd n Eddy, following the exploits of the titular trio of Eds as they try to scam other kids in the cul-de-sac in a never-ending quest to obtain jawbreakers. To this day, this series remains Cartoon Network’s single longest-running show, even beating out the former juggernaut that was Adventure Time, and has since become a reliable source of internet memes. Though I did watch some of the show as a kid early in its run, my parents ultimately dissuaded me from watching it any further, though the show remained in the back of my mind and I became curious about playing the console game based on it, Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures, after seeing it on store shelves. Years later, while on a classic Cartoon Network nostalgia trip fairly recently, I finally sought out a second-hand PS2 copy, which I was fortunately able to get at a reasonable price, and even streamed a few episodes through HBO Max to remind myself what the show was actually like (and realized what I missed out on). Despite my general inexperience with the show itself, I found The Mis-Edventures to be one of the best licensed games I had ever played, due to how well it managed to perfectly translate the series to video game form.

The game is split across six levels (aka Scams), accessible at marked spots in the cul-de-sac hub world, but rather than following an overarching plot, each one is structured like an episode of the show, complete with a beginning, middle and end. Many of these involve the Eds pulling off a scam of some kind in their quest for Jawbreakers, though other plots involve things like crashing a birthday party or completing an elaborate obstacle course. To complete the experience, each Scam also has a loading screen title card modeled after the ones seen at the beginning of a standard episode, plus the game adheres to the series’ rule of not introducing any new characters. Given the more episodic nature of the original series, this was probably the best way to approach an Ed, Edd n Eddy console game, and the execution works surprisingly well in recreating the experience.

The core gameplay is that of a 3D platformer, in which you play as all three Eds (Ed, Edd, Eddy) at once and can swap between them at will. Each Ed has their own unique abilities that come in handy for different situations, especially puzzle solving. Ed is able to lift/throw objects and dig in sandboxes, Edd (aka Double-D) can interact with control panels and other similar items to open doors, and Eddy can throw stink bombs to stun enemies. Each of them also has a special ability that involves all three Eds, which is useful for various platforming sections; Ed has the Batter-Ed, which allows him to bash and break objects; Edd has the Trampol-Edd, which allows him to jump to higher places; and Eddy has the Tower-Of-Ed, which has all of the Eds stand on top of each other to traverse thin platforms, hide behind pillars, or provide extended reach. You can also shift into first-person view at any time, which has the most applicability for Edd’s slingshot to hit faraway targets. I should mention that slingshot shots travel in an arc if you’re far enough away, so that’s something to keep in mind.

In keeping with the series’ rule of using the same cast in every episode, this game uses animals for regular enemies, which drop health upon defeat, though the Kanker sisters appear for boss encounters. Each level also has a chicken you can chase after, and successfully catching them gives you an Easter Egg that allows you to alter the visuals in some way (ex. Big Head Mode) or watch one of three videos, the latter of which can also be viewed through booths in the cul-de-sac. Said videos include a music video (“My Best Friend Plank”) that aired on Cartoon Network, an advertisement for the game and a behind-the-scenes video featuring the voice actors for the Eds (Matt Hill as Ed, Samuel Vincent as Edd, Tony Sampson as Eddy). Levels also have hidden costume pieces to find, collecting all of which unlocks two extra levels in the cul-de-sac, each based around the Eds playing pretend.

The Eds (from left: Ed, Eddy, Edd) come up with ways to obtain jawbreakers.
(Screenshots for this game are surprisingly difficult to come by.)

The most important collectible, however, is the Eds’ coveted Jawbreakers. Many of these can be found throughout each Scam, however some of them must be purchased through a gumball machine, using coins collected from breakable objects throughout said Scams and the cul-de-sac, which can get expensive enough to require replaying Scams multiple times. Collecting all 40 Jawbreakers is not only satisfying, since the game isn’t too difficult to 100% with a little assistance, but you also unlock three Cheats that you can toggle at any point. Having all three on breaks the game in half and can allow you to see how fast you can get through the game outside of a proper speedrun, though Scam 6 has a couple places where temporarily turning one of them off is needed to advance.

While the gameplay works very well with the style of the show, a few hiccups slightly impacted the experience. For those such as myself who aren’t a fan of inverted camera controls, there is no way to reverse it, though I was able to adjust somewhat. One bigger issue, however, is that the Eds’ pathfinding is imperfect, so it is entirely possible for one Ed to get stuck in the environment, potentially making it impossible to progress without restarting the Scam.

Rather impressively, the graphics manage to replicate the series’ art style, even managing to incorporate the show’s signature “boiling lines” on 3D models, made even more impressive that it was done on sixth-generation hardware. The 2D cutscenes that bookend each Scam, while obviously more cheaply-animated than the show, still manage to work in the “boiling lines” style, giving the game an overall consistent look in line with its source. The in-game cutscenes are very fluid and highly expressive, with the character designs managing to translate decently well to 3D, though Kevin’s model rather infamously isn’t so lucky. When replaying Scam 6, I had it happen once where Ed’s neck was somehow disconnected from the rest of his body, though this instance was very brief and inconsistent.

As proven by the aforementioned behind-the-scenes video, the Eds share the same voice actors as in the show, which also extends to the rest of the cast, adding another layer of authenticity to the experience. That said, the Eds themselves have fairly limited dialogue pools during actual gameplay. While this isn’t much of an issue most of the time, you will be using Edd’s mechanical abilities a lot, resulting in hearing the same two lines over and over ("My my, intriguing" / "Hmm, this should work"). The game also incorporates some actual music from the show, though you should be prepared to hear the Ed, Edd n Eddy theme a lot in both the Main and Pause menus.

While not perfect, Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures is an excellent example of a licensed game done right, though naturally, much like any licensed game, your enjoyment may depend entirely on whether or not you are a fan of the source material. For Ed, Edd n Eddy fans, this one is well worth seeking out, if you can get it for a reasonable price, though non-fans may feel more inclined to look elsewhere.

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