When you think of great duos, you might think of the explorers Lewis and Clark or maybe comedians Abbott and Costello. Or, I don’t know, maybe even classic literature buddies Sam and Frodo jump to mind. But your thoughts probably don’t automatically leap to an image of two tween inventors with odd-shaped heads and goofy grins.
Unless, of course, you watch Phineas and Ferb.
These animated auteurs with the alliterated names have been inventing gadgets, getting into mischief and entertaining Disney Channel regulars since 2007. Along with their pet platypus Perry, who doubles as a secret agent known as P, Phineas and Ferb work hard to irritate their older sister, Candace, and fight the evil machinations of the notoriously nefarious (and bumbling) Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
The TV series quickly spawned TV movies … one of which has now spawned this game: Across the 2nd Dimension. So with the help of our resident 11-year-old Phineas and Ferb fan/gamer September Isaac, we decided to check out the Wii-waving adventure.
Sticky Goo …
Spinning off from the movie’s plot with a dimension-hopping musical underscore, the game’s heroes find themselves tumbling through a portal formed by Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Otherdimensionator. Poof! Phineas Flynn and his English stepbrother Ferb Fletcher find themselves in an alternate version of their hometown of Danville. How do they know it’s an alternate reality? Well, because everything is covered in purple and green gelatin, of course. And little cubish gelatin monsters are set to block their path.
It turns out that Phineas and Ferb need to climb into the gelatinously goopy sewers and find a power source that will help them escape this dilly of a dimension. In fact, there are six different strange dimensions they’ll have to eventually hop their way through—including a balloon land, a world ruled by garden gnomes and a black-and-white extravaganza that looks strikingly similar to an old paddle steamer Mickey Mouse cartoon from way back when.
Along the way, the brothers-in-arms will gather up a spare wire here and a discarded funnel there to whip up helpful inventions such as the orange soda-blasting carbonator which dissolves those pesky gelatin critters. A baseball-launching thingamajig wards off spider-like robots. And the super-sticky ninja glove helps them climb walls and sheer cliffs that would be impassable by any mere 9-year-old with goggle eyes and a shock of orange hair.
… and a Platypus Too
Most of the gaming is of the platformer variety, with the good guys (one or two players can grab a remote) solving little puzzles as they jump from level to level, balloon to balloon and gelatin square to gelatin square. But there are other minigames in the mix too. Agent P and the new turtley Agent T do a little jetpack flying while blasting bad bees and rotten robots. An old-fashioned arcade claw game and a Skee-Ball-style challenge earn bonus game tickets and invention upgrades.
All of that to say this: Across the 2nd Dimension is as whimsical, colorful, cartoony and bounce-about, young gamer-friendly a title as you’re apt to find. Something that September (our youngest Plugged In gamer) quickly found to be true. She actually wasn’t sure she would be all that fond of the title when she started out. It was quite different from the typical TV episode. And from her perspective, the game’s cover made it look like there was going to be a lot of war-like shooting and scrambling. But while there is quite a bit of soda squirting and baseball bopping to be had, she ended up finding a bunch of things that she enjoyed.
Her review notes included: “Instead of fighting off humans, your character fights off robots and gelatin. … The evidence of Doofenshmirtz and Perry’s enemy relationship doesn’t show. … Candace’s brattyness is pulled down to the lowest level. … The sewer doesn’t look anything like a sewer really looks like. (No disgusting things floating around.)” Her final assessment? “Although it is not like the TV show, Phineas and Ferb is a really fun game. One player will enjoy it as much as two.”
Hey, what more can I say except, I agree.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.