|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artificial Mind||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
Every Summer the kids get stir crazy in the house, and Hollywood, recognizing that American parents are willing to spend great amounts of money to get their kids out of the house (if for only a few hours), releases new kids movies onto the market like clockwork. And of course, it wouldn't be a big Summer movie without the traditional movie game tie-in.
Shorts for the Nintendo DS is an adaptation of Robert Rodriguez's wish fulfillment-themed motion picture that features kids seeing their wildest dreams come true thanks to a magical multi-colored rock that falls from the sky.
The core gameplay of Shorts is that of a rather traditional platformer. Players guide the character throughout the level jumping to platforms, avoiding obstacles, and solving light puzzles. The puzzles aren't too difficult though, and most of them will be solved almost automatically as you progress through the level hitting switches and gathering keys. Most of the time you just step on a switch then head to the area it opened up, get a key, and then open the door that has a lock the same color as the key. There's not much to impede your progress as far as level design is concerned.
However, there are definitely hordes of enemies blocking your path, though most levels only contain two enemy variants. Nevertheless, these enemies provide a sufficient challenge for reaching your end goal.
The platforming gameplay is well executed, and controls are responsive enough to keep you engaged, but a big problem arises for this game: the huge lack of variety. Every level is essentially the exact same as the last. There are only a few different obstacles that they'll throw at you, and by the time you reach the midway point in the first level, you've seen just about everything this game has to offer.
The monotony is broken up a bit by the differing special abilities of each of the characters you'll play in each level. You'll play as four different characters from the film, and each of them has a signature ability which aids in reaching new heights and platforms. The highlight of these definitely has to be the huge Pterodactyl that pops up to lift Loogie upward.
One theme that Shorts explores is something that a number of other games have implemented. By using the touch screen, players can use an ability that allows them to draw new platforms for the player to jump onto in order to progress through the level. As it is, this breaks up the monotony a bit, but it is tragically underused. Rather than forcing the player to come up with ever more imaginative means of using this feature to advance, the feature is essentially used for two different things, and that's about it.
The boss fights are a mixed bag. They're kind of fun, but they really only serve to offer new window dressing for the mechanics you've been using the entire game. The first boss, for instance, is a giant booger monster. This probably sounds great if you're a kid, but the reality is much more boring. Essentially, it's just another version of the levels you've just completed, only with a background of a booger monster. You don't even interact with the monster. He doesn't hit you directly, and you don't hit him. He just stands there, sneezing smaller snot monsters onto the level. In the mean time, you have to jump to high platforms and hit switches to lower electrodes near his head, and then you turn on the electricity (by stepping on another switch) to fry him. Repeat two more times and it's over. Take away the picture of the monster in the back and all you're doing is stepping on switches, which is really all you do in the preceding levels.