- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Disney Channel’s most inventive animated kids return to the video game world in a not so inventive third-person adventure game Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (Disney Interactive Studios, reviewed for PlayStation 3, rated: E+10, $39.99), tweaked for youngsters on the verge of tweendom.

Based on the plot of the new, made-for-TV movie, it appears the stepbrothers Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher are stuck in alternate dimensions and need assistance to return to the right universe and hometown of Danville.

Up to a pair of players (through co-operative, drop-in options) eventually choose from 10 characters (including the duo) in missions to traverse the dimensions and defeat the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz.

Mixing shooting, platforming and collecting, the action relies on two chosen characters blasting enemies such as spiderbots, porcupines, gelatin men, gnomes and Norm-Bots, jumping around and some occasional split-screen teamwork while conquering about two dozen levels.

During missions, characters use some cool weapons and tools such as the carbonator (shoots everything from streams of orange soda to milk), a baseball launcher (with slightly faulty but fairly accurate automatic targeting), ninja gloves (used to stick to walls) and a gravity gun (for moving large objects and even enemies).

Fans of show will enjoy controlling favorites such as Perry the Platypus (Agent P), Peter the Panda and, exclusive to the game Terry the Turtle (Agent T) as they travel through seven locations.

These exotic places include a gelatin-covered Danville (swimming through the sewer pipes is a highlight), a land of balloons (even strap on jetpacks for an above ground firefight) and a 1920s, black-and-white cartoon world with a definite “Steamboat Willie” vibe.

A load of potential level ups arrive through stops at work benches during missions to install chips in weapons that, for example, might increase range or ammo reload times.

Players also collect tickets by conquering arcade-style mini-games used to buy modifications to costumes (hip ninja garb for Agent T), weapon sounds and ammo or unlocking a gallery of three-dimensional art pieces.

Unfortunately, with only two challenges existing, a crane game and permutation of Skee-ball, it’s pretty monotonous.

Another area of disappointment is found with characters collecting pieces of contraptions to fill out a blueprint. Once all the pieces are found, the devices are automatically built.

That’s in line with the spirit of the show, but I’ll call it a missed opportunity. It would make much more sense to engage a youngster’s brain in some type of puzzle activity to construct the device rather than just watch it happen.

Additionally, under negatives, I’ll add a collection of low-definition cut scenes to help tell the story that offsets the beautiful, cell-shaded (resembling hand drawn animation) game action looking plucked right from the show.

However, PlayStation 3 players get a bonus with four, high-definition episodes — “I Scream, You Scream,” “Mom’s Birthday,” “Dude, We’re Getting the Band Back Together!” and “Comet Kermillian” — on the disk to compliment Phineas and Ferb’s virtual journey.

Although fans might appreciate the duo’s latest exploits (parents will get a kick out of some of the humor), Across the 2nd Dimension offers some variety but not nearly enough of a challenge for gamers. For a more rewarding experience, I’d recommend setting the Wayback Machine to 2009 and finding a copy of Phineas and Ferb for the DS.

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