|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Destination Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Black Lantern||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 29, 2008||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 Joseph Catalanotto
Of all overweight, lasagna-loving tabby cats, Garfield is most likely America's favorite. He's the star, along with Odie and Jon Arbuckle, of a long-running comic strip and a number of animated cartoons. And lately, he's taken to the video game market. Garfield's Fun Fest is the most recent Garfield-related video game, and I'd take the comic over this sad excuse for a platformer any day of the week.
In fact, everything about Garfield's Fun Fest just feels wrong. From the near-abuse of the Garfield license to the overly-simplified gameplay, Garfield's Fun Fest does little to hide its status as a cheap cash-in geared toward kids.
To begin with, the plot makes absolutely no sense. I suppose that the development team attempted to combine a few of the plot elements from the comic strip: for example, Garfield is a comedian (think of his chain-link-fence routines). But beyond that, everything is a bit nonsensical. Garfield is off to a gathering of comic-strip characters when, due to "tragic" events, he loses his sense of humor. He's got to regain his sense of humor and then return to the gathering to compete in a performance championship.
And boy, does he lose his sense of humor. Typically, Garfield is funny. After all, it's a comic strip. However, Garfield's Fun Fest is not funny in the least. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single joke, though you may find yourself laughing at the sad excuse for a plot. On top of it all, the storytelling is really terrible, taking place over panels with no animation and nothing but scrolling lines of text.
Sadly, things continue downhill from there. The visuals are among the worst that I've seen on the DS. Especially when you compare this game to some of the more visually impressive DS titles such as Animal Crossing and Metroid Prime Hunters, Garfield's Fun Fest is downright embarrassing. The game is colorful and cute, but Garfield's animation is blocky and ugly. Odie is pretty good-looking, but again the animation is so botched that nice design is completely moot. There's also absolutely no voice-work and the music sounds terrible.
When it comes to gameplay, Garfield's Fun Fest isn't just bad; it completely fails to impress. It employs some very basic platforming mechanics with a neat little twist that might be interesting to the younger children it's geared toward, but ultimately ends up being a distraction. For the most part, you'll simply walk and jump, collecting items along the way but mostly pressing toward the end of each level. It's quite straightforward and, frankly, it's fairly boring.
The twist here is Garfield's energy meter and the fact that it will constantly deplete on its own, just from walking around. Playing off the fat tabby's love of food, the idea here is to eat the food that's liberally scattered throughout the stages. While it does give the stages a mild sense of urgency and discourages you from dilly-dallying around, it doesn't do much else. If Garfield's energy meter happens to run out, you'll take control of Odie and run around the stage trying to find an alarm clock to wake Garfield up. There's so much food around that it's unlikely Garfield will pass out, but if it does happen, it's pretty annoying to have to drop everything and go on a scavenger hunt for a clock.