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Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots Review

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Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ
Release Date: October 23, 2007 Also On: GBA

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Professor Calamitous has it in for the Nicktoons. After kidnapping Patrick, SpongeBob SquarePants and a handful of Nickelodeon’s most popular stars set out to stop Calamitous and save Patrick. Quickly their cause turns into a much bigger issue when they discover Calamitous’s new army of evil Toybots, which are just robot clones of the Nicktoons. THQ’s third DS Nicktoon title, Attack of the Toybots, isn’t a bad game. In fact, almost anyone who enjoyed Nickelodeon in their life will enjoy playing it for its unlockables and secrets. As a game targeted at children it manages to pull out a few minutes of fun.

It is clear to me that THQ’s next effort needs to break up the pace and add some spice to the typical Nicktoon formula. Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots will not throw off any youngsters or get them lost. Every single level plays exactly the same, in a five-step formula. First, though, players choose between five different Nicktoon characters from the start: SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, Tak, Timmy Turner, and Jimmy Neutron. Five more, including Patrick and Invader Zim, open up as the game is unlocked.

Back to the five phases: the first step is the most basic and core part of the game. In this brief section the Nicktoons fight hordes of evil teddy bears and other sinister toys for about ten minutes. Players will most likely hit the B button anywhere between 100-500+ times between this period, as it is the only attack button, and collect a few hundred nuts and bolts.

I’ll get to those momentarily. A mini-boss will appear next to wipe out players who weren’t careful in the initial phase. Moving forward, the Nicktoons then find a mech that allows them to stomp through levels and lay waste to the same enemies they just fought through. After a few moments, they’ll transform the robot into a car-like vehicle that sends them flying through passages and down streets, collecting more nuts and bolts. Finally, after collecting and fighting and driving and stomping, players will reach each level’s final enemy character: a Toybot clone of that world’s mascot. For example, in Bikini Bottom, the first level, you’ll fight a Toybot based off of SpongeBob. After beating the boss, the level is finally over.

I just covered a lot of ground, so now I’d like to discuss in more detail the important parts of each phase. In the side-scrolling introduction to each level players can find nuts and bolts as well as health power-ups to keep them alive, but that is the primary function. The second phase against the mini-boss is a much bigger challenge than the enemies from before, and some younger players might feel overwhelmed at first. Even I will admit that the mini-bosses were always the hardest part of each level. When in the robot, you’ll collect more nuts and bolts but primarily just trudge through. It is the driving sequence in the fourth phase that is most important.

All of the nuts and bolts collected throughout each level, at this point, serve as the player’s health. Hitting boxes and other obstacles will detract from that health, but a lot of nuts and bolts are laid out along the path. In the last phase, against the Toybot boss, players switch to a first-person perspective and exchange shots with the boss. Sometimes there is a puzzle that needs to be figured out before the boss can be damaged, but this usually involves shooting something in the background or foreground to remove obstacles or distractions from blocking the Toybot from the Nicktoon.

As I mentioned, Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots isn’t groundbreaking in any way. Each of the phases seems like a botched version of a different genre. The first phase is an old-school side-scrolling action phase that has sluggish Nicktoon movement and terribly repetitive combat (mash B). The graphics in these stages are above average in some respects, and average in others. The 2D models look alright, but the enemy models get very repetitive. The 3D objects in the background look a little bit better, but still don’t push the DS envelope when compared to other games. The third phase is similar, again, to 2D side-scrolling titles. The mech robots differ between characters, but I stuck with the same characters throughout most of the game, so I didn’t get a chance to see a few of them outside of the instruction manual. The fourth phase is a basic version of handheld racing titles. The graphics aren’t very good, but things move quickly enough to keep the 3D models and ground textures from looking terrible. The fifth is a chopped-up first-person shooter, without any forward movement or looking around.

The graphics are, again, average: grainy, up-close 3D models and textures are definitely not pleasant to the eye. I feel like THQ’s future Nicktoons games can definitely expand on all of the different gameplay mechanics, even if they are going to use them all in a single game again. I also feel like they should have invested a little more into their title and included some animated clips, even if they were just stolen from past episodes. I like how there are a lot of different looks for young gamers, but when I see little kids playing Guitar Hero on Hard and Expert, I have a hard time thinking they aren’t capable of a few more complicated mechanics in their licensed games.

The driving sequences give the player a chance to find and collect picture frames that unlock gallery art of Nicktoons from all Nickelodeon periods. You can see images from The Cool Nick Era, which consisted of Rocko and Rugrats, and even more of The Much Less Cool Nick Era, which we are currently stuck in. SpongeBob and Tak might be doing it for the younger audiences of today, but I really can’t see the appeal to these characters. It seems like the more sitcom-based cartoons (injected with absurd imagination) of yesteryear have been replaced with spunky, cheesy action cartoons and that is a shame. Still, these fighting characters definitely work better for Attack of the Toybots, so I can’t discredit the game for my personal dislike of the modern Nicktoons.

Clearly there are more than a few things for kids to do when they play Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots. Like I said, as a sum of its parts, it isn’t the most impressive DS title around. Even with this in mind, the Nicktoons generation of today will probably enjoy playing the different types of games with their favorite characters. For kids a little too young to play Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass or a few of the better DS titles, Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots is an entertaining alternative. Older audiences will probably want to find other games to play.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 3.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 6
Written by Cliff Review Guide