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Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle Review

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Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ
Release Date: September 18, 2006 Also On: GBA

When I received Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle for the DS, I had expected it to be yet another generic platformer. To my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a horizontal shooter, similar to games such as R-Type and Defender, or more recently the shooter portions of Sigma Star Saga. There aren’t many shooters on the DS that I am aware of, Nanostray being the only one, but is lack of competition enough to make Danny Phantom worth a purchase? In my opinion, Danny Phantom would be purchase-worthy even if it did have competition. Let me tell you why.

Graphically, Danny Phantom is nothing to write home about. The graphics are decent and have the cartoony style you’d expect from a game based on a cartoon aimed at children. I am not fully familiar with the Danny Phantom cartoon, so I don’t know how close they come to the cartoon’s graphics, but they are appropriate and provide a good atmosphere for the game even if they don’t totally match the cartoon. The characters and backgrounds aren’t particularly detailed, but they look nice nonetheless. Overall, I have no complaints here.

I have no major complaints with the sound either. The sound effect set is very similar to the one you’d find in any shooter of this type, neither significantly better nor worse, but certainly enough to get the job done. Since, as I said earlier, I am not familiar with the cartoon on which this game is based, I couldn’t tell you if the music is based on music from the cartoon or not, but either way, it sounds nice, even if it isn’t awe-inspiring. Overall, the sound does a good job of setting the mood in this game, and, with a game like this, what more can you really ask for than that? The only complaint I’d lodge against this game in the sound department is a lack of voice acting in the cutscenes, which use text below the screens instead of voices. I know the DS is capable of voice acting because I’ve seen games that have it. Still, this doesn’t significantly detract from the experience, so it’s a minor complaint.

The gameplay in this game is fairly similar to most other shooters of this type, whether they be vertical or horizontal. Danny Phantom has a normal weapon which can be upgraded to a choice of up to four types depending on how many of the different types Danny picks up in each level, and that can be switched between as Danny gets them. These types can also be upgraded in power up to three times, with such power upgrades affecting all four types of attack regardless of which Danny is using when he acquires it. This makes for a large variety of attack options for Danny to use.

Added to these, Danny enters each level with three special weapons chosen before the level begins from an ever-growing array of moves, although only one of them is active at a time. These moves require the use of ghost power, this game’s form of special weapon energy. Ghost power can be restored by absorbing bullets (more on this later) or by using special items acquired by capturing ghosts. These special items are stored on the bottom screen and can be used by touching them with the stylus. As you defeat ghosts, you can also get heart items to restore your life energy that go into a different box on the bottom screen and can be used the same way.

Borrowed from Ikaruga is the concept of polarity, only this time, instead of filling a meter for homing missiles, absorbing bullets simply refills your ghost meter. This system works well enough, although the execution of the two polarities isn’t as pervasive as in Ikaruga. There are fewer bullets and more of an emphasis on actual objects to run into in this game, so, for the most part, you can go through the game without changing polarities and it won’t be a severe detriment to you, at least in the lower difficulty levels. However, the two polarities, red and blue, are much harder to discern between, as the only difference is a barely visible aura line around Danny.

Still, so far as the actual gameplay is concerned, everything executes very well. The levels are designed much more creatively than what would be expected from a licensed game, although the game does suffer a bit in enemy diversity. Even the bosses seem to be well-designed and creative. There are seven levels in the game, each of which is divided into two sections, but the game still isn’t particularly lengthy, clocking in at only a couple hours if you just go straight through. Still, add to this the fact that there are three difficulty levels, and you’ve got a reasonably lengthy experience, especially for a shooter, which tend to be short.

As if this isn’t enough, there is a boss battle mode where you can fight extra bosses that are unlocked as you capture different types of ghosts. In order to have all the bosses, you need to capture every ghost type. As I said earlier, there aren’t that many types to capture, but, if you miss one, you have to play through the entire game again to get it. There is no level select after you beat the game, which might have been a nice addition for the sake of capturing ghost types. Still, trying to capture every ghost type, and then trying to beat the extra bosses adds replay value to the game.

The only truly weak point in this game is the fourth level. It works more like Iridion 3D than a traditional shooter, and that is a view that I don’t particularly like and see as pointless. It’s one of those third-person shooter like levels where you can move your ship all over the screen and fire forward, but targeting is not that easy in such a style, and that makes it slightly annoying. Still, this is a minor gripe compared to the rest of the package.

In conclusion, this game won’t be particularly challenging for those who are used to games such as Ikaruga. However, there aren’t many shooters like this on the DS, so, if you are a fan of the shooter genre, you should seriously consider trying Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle. Despite being a game based on a kid’s license, it should at least hold you over until the next Ikaruga-level shooter is released.

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