reviews\ Nov 25, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension - GBA - Review

I must admit, I had never heard of Galidor or Nick Bluetooth before this game arrived. I now know that Galidor is a hit kid's TV show on the Family channel. The show blends live action with computer graphics and does it in a fun and entertaining way. It's not totally original, but lots of fun for kids to watch, as my research showed. The game, unfortunately, shares this lack of originality, but some fun still remains. 

In this game from Electronic Arts, you play Nick Bluetooth, a 15yr old boy who spends his time daydreaming of heroic adventures-- until fate casts him into a real life struggle against the evil Gorm. To add to the pressure, his friends have been abducted, and he must defeat Gorm to get them back. Your typical "save the day" scenario.

The game is a side-view action scroller a la Mega Man or any other action game of the sort. I tend to like this type, and picked up the feel for it quickly. It is definitely simple to comprehend. Your mission involves collecting 21 key fragments. A key fragment will get through a level once you match it up with a gateway. It took me a while to get the first one. There are plenty of twists and turns, which resulted in a lot of back-tracking to find where I missed something. At times, he moves so fast, you can miss a crevice that hides what you need.

Speaking of what you need, there are various power-ups that will be critical for success. They are called "Glinches", and include frog-like legs, power punch (like an external bionic arm), grapple hook and etc. The power-ups do not stay with you long before they disappear. You must use them fast and efficiently as the clock ticks. You can, however, usually go back to the point at which they were picked up and get them again-- if you are not dead, first (Nick doesn't swim too well!!). Again, it took some trial and error to figure this out, and understand the Glinches' uses.

Along your journey, you will battle Gorm's worst creatures such as Nick-eating plants, poisonous seaweed (makes me crave sushi), lizard-men called Aquarts, and more nasties to keep you jumping. I found that they were not too much trouble, with the exception of the water-dwelling enemies. In the water, Nick must use a power-up, and the controls are tricky at that time... which leads to accidents. Otherwise, most bad guys can be avoided or easily dealt with. Without a power-up for defense (that bionic arm packs a heck of a rock-smashing punch!!), Nick's defense is a "sliding" move... which lethally trips up his opponent. There are no bosses to speak of, just the key collecting and final battle against the terrible Gorm. 

OK, so now you have the basic idea. Nick travels along collecting power-ups and key fragments in an effort to save the world from evil. The only twist on the typical gameplay is that you are also challenged with a time parameter. The faster you finish a level, the better your score. I did not do too well against the clock, as I was too busy fighting the movement issues and looking for things I missed.

I didn't care much for the way Nick moves. The jumping was terrible and I never did get comfortable with leaping towards moving objects. There are various hovering, moving rocks and etc to jump on, but Nick doesn't seem to like doing that. Luckily, there is a built-in "grab" feature for Nick, in which he grabs the edge of the target if you at least almost make the jump. Then, you can pull yourself up. Without that, I wouldn't have gotten far. 

When Nick goes down a tree or other chute-like object, he goes into a fast slide... which is hard to stop. It is also impossible to go UP one of these slides. It's a lot like Disney's "Tarzan" sliding along the tree branches like a surfer-- only more annoying and fatal at times. It seems, also, that the power-ups are sometimes timed to run out just when you reach the point at which they'd actually be useful. While not usually fatal (did I mention Nick can't swim?!!), it was annoying and results in back-tracking to get the item and try the route faster over and over. For an adult game, this would be a good challenge, but for kids, it was a potential problem. Frustration factor is high in this game-- all over.

The look, sound and feel of the game is adequate, and the landscapes are nice, but you have to move so fast, there isn't much time to appreciate the complexities of the worlds they created in the game design. No time to stop and smell the lethal flowers. The frustration of getting through the level makes the level completion rewarding... though it left me with a dreadful feeling when each new level began-- instead of eagerness, joy and excitement. 

In all, not a bad game, but more of a challenge than it should have been considering it's target audience. I let my young nephew play it for a while, and he stopped in disgust after 10 minutes. I was not surprised, as I struggled with it as well. So, if you need to jump into Nick's high-leaping frog boots to satisfy your desire to save the world, make sure you have plenty of time, and patience. Too bad there wasn't a sedative as a power-up.  

Gameplay: 7
Leaping, sliding and swimming your way to victory is usually a lot of fun, but not here. It's more of a test of patience than skill. It plays like Mario in a suit of armor. Hard to control at (critical) times, and not very rewarding when a task is completed. Beating the game leaves you with a feeling of "it's about time!!" instead of elated victory. Not a lot of replay value, for sure.

Graphics: 8 
The game looks pretty good-- as much as I could look at it while Nick was zooming down branches or drowning in the pools of water. There are some nice cartoon-like transitions when you collect power-ups for the first time. Hints and mission objectives pop up at times when you first start out. They're (thankfully) easy enough to read.

Sound: 7.5
At times, the sound is quite good, but mostly it doesn't enhance the game, much. The environmental sounds are subtle. I think, considering you're playing in a non-Earth world, there was a chance for some eerie and unique sound effects. That chance was missed.

Difficulty: Medium
I'd almost rate this as being Hard, but there is enough mundane walking to make it easier than that. The real challenge is in the power-up utilization and time limits. Also, as painfully mentioned, the jumping and timing controls are dreadful, which makes it harder-- in a bad way.

Concept: 6.5 
Nothing new here. The world created for Nick is imaginative and fascinating, but the game itself is typical and like dozens of other games. Without the name on the cartridge, you'd not know it from any other game in this genre. It fails to stand out as original or memorable. 

Multiplayer: 7
Maybe it's unfair to rate this, as I never played the 2-player game, but I can imagine it's failures. The problem is that the other player must wait until a level is completed-- not just when the active player is killed. If you have to wait for your opponent to complete their level before your turn, you better bring a book to read, or maybe find the game's namesake on TV to watch-- to kill time. 

Overall: 7
Nothing amazing about this adventure for Nick Bluetooth. There is very little satisfaction in the gameplay and completion of levels-- which is what games are all about. If you fail at that objective, you fail at making a fun and successful game experience. One potential enhancement that I could not utilize was the ability to use a "Kek Powerizer" with the game. With this toy, watchers of the TV show can get sounds and action from the Powerizer-- as the show progresses. Sound ques are sent to the unit during the show that make the toy interact with what's going on. Apparently, this game also works with the Powerizer, which may have added some dimension and "thunder" to this otherwise average experience. I do not have the unit to have tried it, but it might have improved my scores in areas. But, as is, the game is mediocre and one I would pass on as a recommendation for most gamers. Sorry, Nick.


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