Review

Code Lyoko

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-06-19

1272 Views

Developer: DC Studios Publisher: The Game Factory
Release Date: May 17, 2007 Also On: None

Licensed games based on cartoons are nothing new. Some companies, such as THQ, practically depend on them for their livelihood. The latest game to come out based on a cartoon is Game Factory's Code Lyoko. Unlike Game Factory's norm, they seem to be interested in getting some advertising behind this game, a fact which suggested to me when I received it that it would be one of their more spectacular efforts. I am pleased to report that, for the most part, it is.

Graphically, this game is hit and miss. The characters are detailed well, but the environments aren't treated nearly so well. They are dull and lifeless overall. Still, the environments get the job done, and the characters really look quite good. The important thing here is that there are no graphical glitches to speak of and no slowdown to be found in the game. That being the case, the graphics are decent, but not spectacular.

In terms of sound, Code Lyoko, like most third-party DS games, has no voice acting, but rather uses text boxes. The sound effects likewise are a fairly generic lot, but they aren't done badly. The music is nice but unobtrusive, generally matching the feel of the environment and situation that the player is in, and thus switching often enough so that the player won't get tired of any one piece. Overall, the sound is above average, but nothing spectacular either.

In terms of gameplay, this is one of the most diverse games I've ever seen out of Game Factory. Rather than just being a racing game or just being a platformer with a couple touchscreen minigames thrown in, Game Factory has taken multiple play styles and integrated them into one comprehensive whole. What's more, they did a good job of it. That said, I'll analyze each of the four gameplay components that can be found in this game separately.

The first gameplay component that you'll come across is something similar to a point-and-click adventure. Essentially, you'll walk around with whatever character you happen to be using searching for various items or people to accomplish certain objectives. You have a map that will show you where you need to be going so you don't need to search aimlessly, and none of the objectives are difficult to figure out at all. These levels take place in what to the game is the real world.

The second gameplay component comes across as more of a platformer. These levels take place in the virtual world of Lyoko. In these levels your objective is generally to navigate your team of up to four people (how many of them are playable in a particular level varies) through the level until they reach a tower, at which point a particular character named Aelita must be used to enter the tower. Each of the characters has their own special power, whether it be Ulrich's dash or Aelita's levitation, etc. These powers are often necessary to get through levels, and you'll sometimes find yourself having to backtrack to a checkpoint to switch to the character that you need.

Yes, that's right, you can switch characters at checkpoints, which is fairly normal for a game like this. Luckily, checkpoints abound in this game, and there's almost always one near wherever you need to use a particular character to progress. In addition to each character's special power though, each character has his own unique attack style (except Aelita, who can't attack) and each character can be individually upgraded by collecting blue energy modules to buy upgrades.

Levels basically revolve around three things. First, you'll sometimes enter an area and have a red firewall put up around the exit points. When this happens, enemies will appear and you must defeat them all in order to progress. Most of the battling is done at these times, although you might find enemies at other points as well. Second, there will be platformer sections where you'll have to navigate moving platforms or use character powers to progress through the level. Third, there will sometimes be sections in which you'll have to find switches to deactivate blue firewalls, or, later, white ones also.

The problem with this mode is that it gets repetitive after a while. Game Factory does a good job of trying to keep the moving platformer puzzles fresh by switching them up, but that only works for so long. Likewise, the sections involving character powers are basically the same thing over and over. And the quantity of different enemies you'll come across are limited. The later levels will up the difficulty by sending you more waves of enemies for a red firewall or sending you more enemies per wave.

Add to that the fact that, even though you can buy attack combos for the characters, simply hitting the attack button over and over will generally work just as well, and you've got a mode that would get old if the platformer levels were too long and were the only thing in the game. Luckily, neither of those things is true. I've already said there were four different gameplay components, and most of the platformer levels aren't overly lengthy, although they will start to get longer and more complex as you progress.

The third gameplay component is sort of a puzzle minigame. This mode comes up whenever you need to hack into something. You'll be given a blue box with a hole in the middle and other pieces to the left and right of it. The objective here is, simply, to fill the hole. Making matters more complicated is the fact that you will always be given more pieces than you need to complete the puzzle. Control here is simple as you move the pieces with the stylus on the touchscreen. This is a good change of pace as the platformer mode controls primarily with the control pad and buttons and the first mode I mentioned can be controlled either way but is easier with the control pad and buttons. The sad part is that most of these are fairly quick and easy to solve, but they provide a nice change from all the wandering or fighting. These can come up either during the real world portions or the Lyoko portions of the game, although they are more frequent in the towers at the end of the Lyoko levels.

The fourth gameplay component is on Lyoko as well. It is sort of a racing component, but you generally race for survival and not for speed. It's more like a 3D version of the portions of Battletoads where you'd be on those blue things and try to dodge the pillars. That's obviously where the inspiration for these portions came from because, if you hit an obstacle, you're taken back to the last checkpoint and forced to try again. These levels aren't overly long either, but are good for a change of pace. Like in the platformer sections, your character can use his special power, and you can also use Lyoko power to speed up or slow down your race machine.

As you can see then, this game contains four gameplay components, although the puzzle component is minimized by the brevity of the puzzles and the racing component is somewhat minimized by its relatively late introduction. Still, the game is well diversified, and, at fifteen chapters, it will take some time to beat the game. True, the plot is a bit cliche and doesn't really turn into a cohesive plot at all until you're about a third of the way into the game, but who really plays a game like this for the plot anyway?

What then is my conclusion? The game is fairly lengthy, especially for a Game Factory game. The game is diverse enough that no gameplay mode ever has time to get too boring. The game is a bit weak in presentation, but that's forgivable for the most part. Overall, if you're a fan of Code Lyoko, there's no real reason for you to pass on this game. If you're not a fan, its elements might be a bit too generic for your liking but consider giving it a rental anyway. Either way, don't just relegate this game to being a piece of junk just because it's a licensed title.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.1
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely

1272 Views