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Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends Review

Developer: Crave Entertainment Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Release Date: October 24, 2006 Also On: None

I am not familiar with Cartoon Network. I never have been, and I probably never will be. Thus, when I received Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, I had no idea exactly what to expect. Indeed, I knew it was a show on Cartoon Network only because there was a Cartoon Network logo on the box. The reason that I say that is to make the disclaimer that I have no experience whatsoever with the show on which this game is based. And yet, despite the fact that I’ve not heard of the license, it must be a reasonably significant one since Crave took it upon themselves to make a game based off of it. Is it a game worth playing? Read on to find out.

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Graphically, Foster’s is competent, but not impressive. I’m going to give Crave the benefit of the doubt and assume that the graphical style is reminiscent of the cartoon, and, in that case, I can certainly handle the fact that the graphical standard in this game seems to be significantly less than what the GBA is capable of. That’s not to say that it’s bad. I can easily identify all of the characters, and the backgrounds aren’t bad either, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this game could be ported to the NES without too much trouble.

On the sound front, the music is decent. Indeed, some of it is actually catchy. Unfortunately, most of the musical selections are short and thus repeat often. Even though you don’t have to listen to the same piece of music for the entire game, some levels are long enough that, especially if you get lost somewhere, the music can start to grate on you after a while. The sound effects are a little over the top in some instances, but they work fine anyway.

As is to be expected, there is no voice acting in this game, with the game relying on text boxes instead. However, I think that the attempts at humor lose something from the fact that it has to be read and not heard because I think that the dialog would have had some potential if it were voice-acted. Granted, the humor relies on repetitive themes based on the level that you’re in, but I presume that such is probably the nature of the cartoon also.

So far as gameplay is concerned, the manual multiple times refers to this as the “bestest (sic) game ever”. Many smart people have said not to trust a biased source, and in this case they would be right. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends is short, repetitive, simplistic, and generally easy. Allow me to elaborate on each of these points individually.

In terms of length, there are nine levels in this game, although when you cycle through levels in a changed file, some of these nine levels are sub-divided into parts. This amounts to a game that, barring your getting lost in a level or having trouble with a boss, will amount to about three hours of gameplay at maximum. This is certainly on the short end, even for a GBA game.

Why do I say that the game is repetitive? This game revolves around collecting things. Indeed, with one exception early in the game, every level that isn’t a boss battle revolves around collecting a certain number of a type of object from around the house.

To make matters worse, it’s the same house in every level, with the only changes being which rooms you have access to and where the objects that you’re looking for are located. And, as if that isn’t enough, strewn about this house are roughly 130 red tickets that can be collected to unlock three minigames and an item upgrade. These are distributed through the rooms and can be picked up in any level in which you have access to whatever room they’re in. Needless to say, exploring the same house looking for stuff time and time again gets old.

But certainly the game has creative bosses, right? Yes and no. Essentially, you face the same boss for all three boss battles, the older brother of the main character in the game. And he even has the exact same attack pattern in all three battles. That’s hardly creative. However, to the game’s credit, the method of attacking said boss varies in each battle, and these methods are somewhat creative. Still, even the bosses seem a bit repetitive.

And then there’s the fact that this game is simplistic. There are two playable characters in this game: Mac, an eight-year-old boy and Bloo, his imaginary friend who is just a blue blob with eyes (and arms, at least when he walks). Sadly, the two control almost exactly alike. Mac doesn’t receive the ability to throw paper balls (the method of attack in this game) until a little ways in, but other than that, the difference between the characters is that Mac can double-jump, although his second jump is not overly big in the height category, and Bloo can roll into a ball to get under some things that Mac can’t get under.

This would seem to create a situation where most of the time it wouldn’t matter which character you chose to control, which would be the case if you had a choice. Instead, the game chooses for you. Every time you go through a door, you’ll either keep the same character or switch. For some rooms, you’ll use whatever character you were using in the room before, while for others, a specific character is prescribed because his ability is needed in that room. And sometimes which character you use in a particular room will be dictated by what level you’re in, but, with only one exception, it’s always dictated.

In terms of difficulty, there really isn’t much. You have a lifebar, but it really only matters for the boss battles. For the normal levels, if you lose all your health, you go back to the door you went through last, but you do so already having everything you collected in that room before you died. They might as well not have a lifebar if they’re going to make it that easy for you, especially since you have infinite lives. And most of the levels are more platform jumping than battling, so you won’t even be dying that often.

The boss battles can be a different story though. They are actually reasonably difficult, especially compared to the rest of the game, but even they aren’t that difficult once you get accustomed to the attack pattern of the boss and figure out how to injure him. And, unlike the levels, where progress is maintained from life to life, for the boss battles the boss’s energy is restored if you die, which is certainly a good thing.

In terms of replay value, there really isn’t much. If, by some stroke of bad luck, you finish the game without collecting 100 tickets, you can always go back to previously completed levels to try to unlock the three minigames, but I was able to get the 125 for the powerup just by going through the game normally collecting all the tickets in my path. However, the three minigames aren’t even really worth your effort to unlock since you’re only likely to play each one once or twice just to see how they work, as they aren’t that engaging.

So, what are we left with here? A short, repetitive, simple, and easy game with next to no replay value and not really even that much creativity, except perhaps in the dialog of the conversations (and even there, some repetitive themes can be found). Unless you are a diehard fan of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (and even if you are), I would say that there are far better platformers out there than this one for you to spend your money or time on.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.2
Written by Martin Review Guide