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Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Review

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Developer: The Game Factory Publisher: The Game Factory
Release Date: October 5, 2006 Also On: None

Sometimes simple is best. While it is true that most simplistic games tend to be repetitive and boring, every once in a while a game comes across that is both easy for the non-gamer to understand, and yet entertaining enough that the true gamer can get significant entertainment value from it. I am pleased to announce that Garfield 2 (Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties in America; see forthcoming disclaimer) is just such a game. It is based (probably loosely) on the second Garfield movie which has recently come out on DVD.

I need to make a disclaimer before I begin the actual review. I am reviewing what I was sent, namely, a European copy of Garfield 2. This same game has been released in the United States, under the name Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. The difference in name is probably due to the movie having different names in the two regions and the game matching the name of the movie in each region. While any differences between the versions are probably minute, there may be such differences. Bear that in mind.

Anyway, graphically, the game is competent although not breathtaking. Garfield looks very much like the Garfield of the recent two movies, and the environments look realistic enough to pass muster for a DS game. However, sometimes when the background comes in really close, you can see the different pixels of the background, and they are somewhat large when this happens. Most of the time, however, the background will be back far enough that you won’t have to worry about this. Overall, the graphics bring out the important features of the environment in an appropriate way, but this isn’t the game to show off the graphical capabilities of the system with.

So far as sound is concerned, the music is quite engaging at points and, with rare exception, usually fits the environment that Garfield is in. The sound effects are typical platformer fare, neither overly commendable nor the type of effects that are going to tempt you to turn off the sound. The one thing that might tempt you to turn the sound down is the voice acting. Garfield has two distinct “meows”. The one that he uses to interact with the environment is both rarely used and not particularly annoying, but his injury meow is loud and screeching, and it gets old really fast when you get hit many times in rapid succession, which can happen in some areas. The injury meow aside, however, the sound is well done for the most part.

As I mentioned earlier, the gameplay in this game is very simple. In the platformer levels, which comprise a majority of the levels in the game, you will basically run and jump to get through them. That’s it. You use the control pad to run and you have a jump button. For the sake of fairness, I should mention that there’s also a button to make Garfield walk slowly, but there are very few areas in the game where this would even help, and none where it is required.

Don’t get me wrong, however. This game does make some use of the DS’s abilities. The touch screen can be used for two things. You can tap the screen when a special paw symbol appears on the screen to go into a first-person mode to look around, usually to look at a map of the level and see where to go next. There are a couple levels where the sole objective of the level is to use this mode to find something significant in Garfield’s surroundings as well, but these levels are quick and not particularly exciting compared to the platformer levels. Also, occasionally there will be multiple paths and you will need to tap a smaller paw print to indicate which one you want Garfield to take.

The microphone is also used. Occasionally, a small symbol will appear in the corner of the screen indicating that Garfield can interact with his environment. When this happens, you can blow into the microphone to make Garfield perform his interaction meow. This is all that the microphone is used for, but it works well and this interaction is sometimes used in ways that are quite creative.

Neither the touch screen functionality or the microphone functionality play much role in the game though, especially in the later levels. For the most part, the game focuses on Garfield running and jumping through levels that are laid out in a 2 1/2D format, similar to a game like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, for example.

In a game like this, the most important thing is control of your character, and The Game Factory comes through in this area. Garfield controls really well. You can gauge his jumps easily and will have little trouble controlling how far he moves, either in the air or on the ground. In addition to running and jumping, though, Garfield can cling to some walls and ceilings and climb up, down, or across them.

With these few abilities, The Game Factory has put together an experience that is relatively engaging considering its simplicity. The levels have themes that, while they are mostly things I have seen before in other games, are executed well and are quite diverse. Despite being based primarily on running and jumping, you won’t ever get the idea that you’re just doing the same thing over and over. Effects such as moving platforms, surfaces that you can slide down, and other such things add a lot to this game and make it more than just a matter of jump from one platform to the next. The only problem is that there is no type of attack functionality, but the game is entertaining enough that such functionality isn’t necessary, and it would actually be inappropriate to the character in all likelihood.

I should note one other thing. This game isn’t a walk in the park all the way through. The early levels are a good introduction to run and jump gameplay for people who are uninitiated to the platformer genre, but there are portions of some of the later levels especially that, while not overly difficult, will challenge all but the most hardcore of 2D platformer fans. Overall, the level of challenge is good for a game aimed at an audience of Garfield fans of all ages and gaming abilities.

For those who are just looking to play through the game, you’re looking at a couple of hours of play time unless you have significant trouble with some of the levels. However, two things add to the replay value of this game. First, there are food items hidden within the levels that can be collected, and the game keeps track of how many of them you’ve found in each level. Second, as you beat each level, you unlock the ability to play the level again and be timed on how long it takes you to get through. Not only does the game keep track of your fastest time through each level, but there is also a par time for each level that the player can strive for. These times are not overly easy to beat either, so much replay value can be gained here for those who like time trials.

All told, Garfield 2 has a lot going for it. It isn’t atrociously short like some games I’ve played recently, but it isn’t so long that the youngest fans will get bored. It also isn’t overly complicated to figure out, but it is quite entertaining to play. All told, if you are a fan of Garfield and of 2D platformers, there is little reason for you to pass on this game, and you should at least try to rent it if possible. Even if you aren’t a Garfield fan, this game is good enough that even solely on its merits as a platformer, it is worth considering.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.9
Written by Martin Review Guide