reviews\ Oct 18, 2003 at 8:00 pm

The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius: Jet Fusion - GC - Review

Egads! Jet Fusion, the world's greatest action hero, has been captured by Professor Calamitous in his bid to take over the world. Just why is Jet Fusion necessary for this diabolical plan? We don't know, but never mind, not knowing doesn't affect the story. Suffice it to say that Jet's in trouble and Jimmy's the only one who can help, using his genius brain to save the day for Retroville, and of course, for all mankind.

Jimmy Neutron is the star of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon about a boy genius whose wacky inventions frequently get him into trouble. Somehow, one of Jimmy's inventions has trapped Jet Fusion into a surrealistic world based on a Jet Fusion book that Jimmy just happened to use as the basis for his Virtual World Reproduction Machine invention, which has effectively stopped Jet from opposing Professor Calamitous. Now it's up to Jimmy to rectify his mistake and rescue Jet Fusion.

Of course, the story isn't really important, it just serves as the backdrop to the elements found in the game. The first world is set in Lindbergh School, where Jimmy has the brilliant idea of transforming a book about Jet Fusion into a virtual world, in order to facilitate the class project of writing a book report. Jimmy Neutron: Jet Fusion is a typical platform game which features simple puzzles that are mostly physical in nature, but also feature some logical thinking types, exploration, fighting, and of course, plenty of object collection. In each level, Jimmy must find and collect gadget and invention pieces that move the game along, plus an assortment of goodies that give more health, or meet a quota for a certain level.

Jimmy has to watch out for the bullies that are roaming around Lindbergh, many of which can be defeated by the Light Ray, but some of which (the ones sporting sunglasses) cannot. But, they are easily outrun. Jimmy has almost unlimited lives, too, so taking a few hits from the enemies isn't much of a problem. Once the invention pieces have been found, the invention automatically assembles and Jimmy just has to get to the correct spot to use it, then it's basically off to the next world or level.

There are five worlds in all, four of which contain three levels each. The first world has only one level, and serves as an easy tutorial-like mode to get players used to the controls and item collecting. Each subsequent level becomes a little harder and more complex, although none of the worlds are very difficult. Gameplay consists mainly of following a trail of batteries (which power up Goddard's attacks) and other items that either satisfy the collectible goals for the level, or give health points to Jimmy. Enemies abound, but can for the most part be either knocked out or out-run. The third levels in the last four worlds have a boss that has to be defeated.

The interface is designed to impart game information quickly, and succeeds admirably. Players can easily find out how many pieces still need to be collected, and a map that shows glowing orbs that are color-coded for objectives, invention pieces and gadget pieces is really handy. The controls are kept simple, with the "A" button for jumping, and the "B" button for attacks. Other buttons are used to switch cameras, toggle between gadgets and to deploy Goddard's abilities.

Speaking of jumping, Jimmy can't jump. I can't tell you how much time I spent jumping Jimmy back and forth over boxes, rocks and chairs until he finally actually landed on TOP of the thing. And don't even get me going on the subject of water, which is evidently poisonous to Jimmy. If even his little toe touches the water, he is toast.

The camera view is hard to get used to at first, as it doesn't follow Jimmy from behind as he runs into the screen. Instead, many times he's running toward the player, which just feels odd. Eventually, though, the camera centers itself behind Jimmy if he continues to run a certain direction. Players will soon become accustomed. Also, the camera view can be toggled by using the yellow directional pad, which comes in handy when scoping out a room for enemies, and in directing Jimmy around the shorelines that touch on water, to get a good view of the water's edge, which must be avoided at all costs.

The animation is pretty similar to the cartoon, although not exactly the same. It does capture the style and tone fairly well, though. The detail and quality is good, and Jimmy and the other characters are drawn nicely. The enemies are drawn well, too, but the humanoid enemies all tend to look like each other, with different outfits. The different levels are attractive and detailed, but are often too dark, which can cause problems when trying to see where a trail is or where the enemies may be lurking. It's almost impossible to get lost, however, as directional arrows light up the way at strategic points.

There's not much sound going on, with a main tune that plays throughout the game, and a few sound effects thrown in of feet running, and minimal enemy grunts. There are a few other sounds, such as the moving water, the burning lamps, and similar items, but it's mostly a pretty quiet game.

This is a fairly easy game, because it's made for children. The arrows and collectible paths keep Jimmy on track as to where he should be going, and it's not often that the dreaded "game over" slogan appears. Players can save the game manually as often as they wish, but gameplay will only resume at certain save points for each level. There are a few mini-games scattered about the levels to mix things up a bit. Frustration is kept at a minimum, but controlling Jimmy can be a bit problematic at times, as his jumps are horrible and it's often difficult to keep him from running off items. Oftentimes players have to tiptoe Jimmy across areas by repeatedly nudging the control pad, instead of holding it down while he moved.

But since the game is so generous with health points and continues, most children won't be frustrated too much with Jimmy's bad jumps and will learn to compensate for particular jumps in certain areas after dying several times.

Another thing to like about the focus of the game for children are the hints given at opportune times, as in the boss battles and certain uses for particular gadgets. The bosses are completely beatable, but will put up a decent fight for the most part.

It's refreshing to find a children's game that is focused on kids, and not on trying to sell the game for all age groups. The gameplay is enjoyable and non-frustrating and offers a decent variety, although more variety would have been better, as in more puzzles and mini-games. The levels are pretty similar to each other, and don't differ much from world to world except in themes, but still have plenty to do. The map is very well done, and it's useful to see how close one is getting to the desired object as Jimmy runs around. There is one part of the game that is more difficult than the other parts, though, and that is the racing component found in some of the levels. It's hard to win those races, and the kids may have to have help.

All in all, an enjoyable excursion into Jimmy Neutron's world the first time around, but given the sameness of the gameplay in the levels, older kids may not come back too often after finishing the first time.

Gameplay: 7
The gameplay is easy and forgiving, with plenty of items around to collect. The game-paths are clearly laid out, and the map shows where everything is, but not exactly how to get there, which leaves some challenge in figuring out how to access the items. Kids will enjoy collecting the items and getting everything on the lists.

Graphics: 7 
Nice, but average graphics. The animation is good, but not startling so. Some of the dark areas could have been lighted better.

Sound: 6
The sound is minimal and average. More variety of music would help, plus more ambient sounds.

Difficulty: Easy
This game is for kids primarily, and as such, is easy, which is the way it should be.

Concept: 6.5 
Well, it's a game based on a TV cartoon in a platform mode. The execution is professional, though, and most of the play is smooth, except for Jimmy's slight control problem.

Overall: 7
A good game for kids, not an earth shattering one, but still amusing. More mini-games and puzzles would have helped give it more depth, but there is an adequate amount of challenge and variety to keep most kids happy. Replayability is in question for older kids, but the young kids will enjoy playing the levels again.


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