Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island - PS2 - Review
In a world where cartoons are losing quality every year, Nicktoons is one of the few places you can turn for worthwhile entertainment. SpongeBob, The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, Rugrats – if you were a kid in the 80s or 90s, or even now, chances are you have a Nick favorite.
Nicktoons Battle for Volcano Island is the network's attempt at combining your favorite characters for a 3D action/adventure. SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, Timmy Turner, Patrick Star, Samantha Manson, and Sandy Cheeks are on the playable roster. Jimmy Neutron, who has starred in several of his own adventures, makes an appearance as a non-playable character. Tucker Foley and Squidward Tentacles also join the fray as characters you can see but not control.
In respect to party members and player selection, the game is not that different from its GBA counterpart. You switch characters by tapping the R2 button. Party members follow the playable character and will join in whenever a battle breaks out. Characters cannot be switched if they have fallen behind – a likely occurrence if you're a fast player. Teammates will eventually catch up. When pressing R2, the character you're standing closest to is the one you'll gain control of.
While movement is three-dimensional, the worlds are closer to that of a 2D side-scrolling adventure. Characters move along a pre-determined path. There may be options – an offshoot here and there to collect a bonus item. But the main journey revolves around you getting from point A to point B.
The game controls very well. Everyone moves with the same level of speed and seamlessness. SpongeBob is the smallest and appears to be faster, but it's just the way he runs (it's somewhat of a scurry, almost like a rooster or some other bird).
Speaking of birds, that's exactly who you'll be fighting. Small groups of angry poultry will attack your party. Not to worry though – most are rather harmless.
Various ape-like creatures also make an appearance. Taking a cue from Resident Evil and other darker tales, the animals are said to have gone mad because of a strange toxic substance. This being a kiddie affair, you don't have to worry about any blood or violence, but it's interesting to think about where the game may have acquired its source material for villains.
Penetrate enemy defenses with a swift punch from Danny Phantom. Use SpongeBob's sandbox shovel to show 'em who's boss. Bash 'em up real good with Patrick's— actually I'm not sure what his appendages are. Whatever they may be, enemies on the receiving end of the attack will be in pain.
The other characters attack in similar ways, with similar combos executed by tapping the circle button three times. Each character has a double-jump move, as well as special attacks. For example, SpongeBob can shoot enemy-seeking bubbles. Patrick’s attack has him performing several enemy-damaging cartwheels.
Special moves become available after you've found one or more of the charge spheres. The game doesn't provide a definition for what the charge spheres are, but you'll know it when you see them. They look like a tiny, orange-colored sun. The glow is big enough to spot anywhere on the screen, just as long as it's within the camera view. Blue spheres re-fill your health meter. You won’t need them very often, but these are the power-ups you'll uncover the most.
Other power-ups include invincibility and a speed-increasing item that lets you ram into enemies. Collecting bonus items allows you to unlock new costumes, a video viewer, additional levels, and more.
Battle for Volcano Island isn't the most graphically rich action/adventure. That hardly matters though. The plain visuals are overshadowed by poor world design. Simply put: the layout is boring. Run right, hit an enemy. Run left, hit a bridge. Run left again, hit another enemy and another bridge.
The unrelenting repetitions are only part of the problem. Volcano Island's 3D illusions are not satisfactory. The stagnant camera hinders progress, causing unintentional dips in the lake, and unnecessary falls from high platforms. Players have to walk toward, away from, and to the sides of the screen without any indication as to what's around the corner.
Nicktoons Battle for Volcano Island is a playable game with top-of-the-line controls and a solid cast of great characters. Playable, many of you are aware, just means that the controls work. I’m afraid that’s the only thing this game does right. I could see where a young child – who's well below the age of the average SpongeBob or Danny Phantom viewer – could enjoy playing the game. I could also see kids getting very frustrated by the camera view, the drowsy presentation, and the repeated and overly simplistic actions.
Review Scoring Details for Nicktoons Battle for Volcano Island
Moderate simplistic enjoyment (for a very limited time). Battle for Volcano Island is another “me too!” action/adventure. If you want Nicktoons entertainment turn on the TV – or play one of SpongeBob or Jimmy Neutron’s solo adventures.
Colorful. That’s about all I can say. The characters look alright, but has there ever been a time when they didn’t? I think that must be part of the license agreement with Nickelodeon. Because in every Nick-related title, the characters
Generic mumblings and various unimportant sounds. The music is okay, but not as memorable as the themes of the cartoons this game is based on.
Offers no challenge whatsoever.
A sub-par, copycat adventure with licensed characters.
The game boasts about its feature to “join or leave the game at any time.” But this game isn’t online, and it only allows for two players to battle domestically. Being able to come and go as you please – that’s just the difference between a one-player game and a two-player game.
Nicktoons Battle for Volcano Island doesn’t have what it takes to satisfy the cravings of SpongeBob and Co.’s youngest fans. You know the cast going in. The environments aren’t spectacular but are fairly interesting, and the controls are as good as you can get on the current generation. Most gamers, however, will be turned off by its overly easy objectives, most of which involve the same few actions. Camera confusion ensures disappointment by all but the most forgiving players.