The Fairly OddParents Shadow Showdown – PS2 – Review

Unless you’ve been living
under a rock, or in a cave for the past decade or so, you are likely aware
that the Nickelodeon network has become the breeding ground for cutting edge,
hilarious, and hugely popular cartoons.  Cartoons that transcend the “usual”
cartoon demographic, appealing to viewers and fans of all ages with their kid
friendly characters combined with enough jokes and innuendo to keep the older
crowd watching.  From Ren and Stimpy, to Ahh! Real Monsters, to the Angry
Beavers, to the Rugrats, to the little, yellow square guy who lives in a
pineapple under the sea, Nickelodeon has churned out unique monster hit after
unique monster hit.  The latest in this regal bloodline of cartoon goodness is
The Fairly Odd Parents.  Written with the same hallmark wit and humor as its
forbearers, the FOP has quickly become a mainstay on Nick, a tradition
continued with surprising continuity and pitch perfect translation in the
world of videogames with Shadow Showdown.

As in their last foray into
the videogame realm, the game plays out like an extended episode of the
television show.  You begin the game with Timmy excitedly settling in for the
season finale of his favorite television show, Crash Nebula, when suddenly his
TV goes on the fritz.  Now for most of us, settling in to watch the finale of
our favorite show only to have our TV go out, would be an absolutely loose
your mind, call in the Marines, and scream bloody murder type of moment.  But
not for Timmy.  No, he has fairy godparents, or more accurately, Fairly Odd
Parents.  Calling on Cosmo and Wanda to grant his wish of restoring his TV,
they quickly learn that things are much worse than they had originally feared;
Cosmo and Wanda’s wands no longer work.  Having to rely on glass encased, “in
case of emergency” wands, they must begin unraveling the mystery of just what
is going on, but they only have twenty-four hours because that’s when Crash
Nebula is going to be rebroadcast.  However, the emergency wands are nowhere
near as strong as their usual wands and can only be used for minor wishes and
nothing major like fixing the TV.

The gameplay is your
standard, mascot driven platformer.  You run, jump, sprint, butt bounce,
collect collectibles, solve puzzles, rinse, and repeat your way across various
worlds straight from the television show as you try to solve the mysteries of
the television and the loss of fairy magic.  Your main two collectibles are
coins and stars.  The coins serve as currency in the shops for buying
upgrades, radars, and the like, while the stars play a much more important
role.  Throughout any given level, you are faced with finding sets of the
three like colored stars.  Once a set of stars have been found, Cosmo and
Wanda have enough magic to grant one wish, usually in the form of a piece of
equipment that either helps Timmy gain entry into new sections of the level or
helps Timmy solve the game’s puzzles.  The game’s puzzles are pretty
straightforward and simple, no doubt created with the youthful gamer in mind. 
The reason for collecting these wishes on each level is solely for getting to
the level’s boss.  The boss battles are pretty cool in the sense that most of
them require the use of the equipment Timmy has wished for in order to defeat
them and the bosses feature various levels to their health and attacks.  They
are not real challenging, but keep in mind who the game is intended for.  The
boss battles are set up and presented in such a way that it will no doubt make
young or novice gamers really feel like they’ve accomplished something.  In
addition to the gameplay and the collectibles already mentioned, gamers can
collect clips from the show and a “behind the scenes” feature is also
included.

Graphically, the game
captures the look and mood of the cartoon unlike any other cartoon to
videogame before it.  When the Mini Bearer first entered the room while I was
playing this game, he actually thought at first that I was watching the show. 
The previous FOP game did an admirable job of this, but this one takes it to a
new level.  While there aren’t any great technological feats accomplished
here, there aren’t any in the television show either, unless you count the
Jimmy Neutron/FOP crossover show they did not too long ago.  The aesthetics of
the show are lovingly captured and rendered here, which is all that we fans of
the show can hope for.  The characters are well animated, even mimicking the
nuances of the characters in the show.  From Von Strangle’s constant preening
and pumping to Timmy’s bizarre gait, it’s been captured here.  It should also
be mentioned that the graphics this time around are much more vibrant, varied,
and cartoony, which was one of my gripes with the last game.


Aurally, the game fairs
just as well as the graphics.  Enlisting the voice actors from the television
show perfectly completes the package and the illusion that you are actually
controlling an episode on Nickelodeon.  All of the comedy prevalent in the
show, including the purposely “lame” one-liners are all here for your
enjoyment.  You are also treated to the same catchy music from the show. 
There’s really not much more to say about it, other than it perfectly mimics
the television show and if you’ve seen the show, the audio leaves no
disappointment.

In closing, fans of the
show and or fans of the last game, will find a lot to love here.  Everything
that makes the show so charming and enjoyable is here in spades.  As a
videogame that strives to create an interactive, compelling episode of the
television it absolutely succeeds.  Purely as a videogame, it doesn’t offer a
whole lot that isn’t already out there, but it is a solid game, with a much
better story than what we usually get with platformers.   The graphics, the
sound, the writing, and the control are all spot on.  What it really comes
down to is if you’re a fan of the show or not.  If you are and enjoy your
platforming romps, you can’t go wrong here.  If you’re the parent of a young
child looking for a game that they’ll enjoy, but that you won’t have to worry
about (things such as content and the bane of non-videogaming parents
everywhere, having to help your child advance), you couldn’t do much better.


Review
Scoring Details

for The Fairly Odd Parents:  Shadow Showdown


Gameplay: 7.5
Solid, but very
standard.  There are a nice variety of contraptions to use through Timmy’s
wishes that helps keep things interesting.  A big plus for the game is
something that most games of this sort struggle mightily with, the camera. 
The camera system never gets in the way and never becomes a liability.

 


Graphics: 8.0 
You’re not going
to find all sorts of cutting edge effects to ooh and aah over, but what you
will find is a loving recreation of a cartoon world that is spot on.

Sound: 8.5
Professional
voice actors who voice these characters for a living, give this game voice
acting well beyond the dreams of most platformers.  The voices, music, and
sound effects are all straight from the show and seamlessly integrated.


Difficulty: Easy
There’s not too
much here that should give novice gamers pause, although there are a couple of
places that will require patience.  While it is easy because it was intended
to be, more experienced gamers that are fans of the show should find enough
fun in the gameplay and definitely in the story to keep them moving forward. 
 

Concept: 7
It’s a straight
formula game, albeit a solidly constructed one.  But the developer gets props
for not just cashing in on the license by preying on unsuspecting children,
which as a parent, is greatly appreciated.


Multiplayer: 7.5

There are a handful of two player mini-games included. 
All of them are simple in a Mario Party kind of way, but surprisingly fun.

Overall: 7.9
A quality license
game that does justice to the license, creating an enjoyable experience for
fans of the material.  This used to be such a rarity in gaming and while there
are still some stinkers that get released, Shadow Showdown is definitely not
one of those and rates as one of the better ones.  Truthfully, if all game
makers that handle licenses intended for kids (both big and small) followed
the model of this game, I think most of us would be pretty happy.  Yes, a
little innovation scattered here and there would be great and maybe a few more
difficult aspects thrown in for older fans of the show, would have been
appreciated, but this game does so much right, that it’s hard to complain too
much.  Fans of the show or parents of fans of the show will certainly enjoy
this homage to the FOP.