It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Phineas and Ferb. The TV show is, for my money, one of the better TV shows of any kind on today, and far and away the best family-friendly cartoon — and I loved the recent TV movie Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension. So I really wanted to like the video game based on the movie. I recently tried out the Wii and DS versions of the game (which is also out for the PS3). The DS version is essentially just a more compact, single-player version of the Wii game, so this will cover both.
I will say that it’s a very good game for little kids who are new to video games, and some fun for their parents who can derive pleasure from playing the game with them, but unfortunately pretty much everyone else will find it far too easy to be worth playing. The premise is good — you play several of the characters from the movie, and a few who weren’t in the movie, and you must deal with various dimensions they go through towards the end of the movie, on their way back to the one they call home. Along the way you battle the (really) evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s robots and other minions, solve puzzles, collect coins that let you play two mini-games in between levels, unlock other characters, and upgrade your various weapons in a bunch of different ways.
That could have made for a fun game, but there is virtually no challenge to it. Fall off a ledge and you’re reset back to where you just were without a penalty. Health-restorative powerups are far more plentiful than they need to be, especially since if you run out of health all you have to do is (on the Wii, anyhow) shake your remote for a few seconds to regain enough to keep going. The evil minions you must defeat are far too weak to be a challenge — you have a choice of several different fun weapons, like a powered baseball and a soda sprayer, but even the weaker weapons can defeat a whole group of baddies without much effort. The puzzles are the real disappointment, though, as one gets the feeling they could have been challenging, but you’re told how to solve each one even before you’ve had a chance to try it on your own, so it feels more like following instructions than actually solving anything.
All that being said, it’s not without its virtues. The voices of the characters are well done, and the animation is suitably reminiscent of the show and movie. And young novice gamers will likely find it a gentle introduction to the world of video games. The mini-games — a skee-ball variant called Perry-Ball and a toy claw machine — will quickly bore adults but (at least in my kids’ experience) keep kids happy by rewarding them with “tickets” they can use to unlock characters and various colors and noises for the game’s weapons.
On the whole, I think the game is essentially a simpler version of the Lego video game series: you have several different characters, which you can switch between on the DS or in single-player mode on the Wii; you destroy various elements of the environment for little electronics piece analogous to Lego studs; you assemble gadgets from “blueprints,” much like building things in the Lego games; and you’re given as many chances as you need to solve any particular puzzle. If your hand wasn’t held throughout every bit of the game, it might even approach the fun of the Lego games, but sadly it doesn’t come close. My advice is to save your money and get a Lego game instead.
Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, the video game, is (of course) rated E for everyone, and is available for the Wii, for the PS3 (which also comes with several Blu-ray episodes of the show), and for the DS.