|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: American Game Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: American Game Factory||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jul. 30, 2007||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 Matthew Walker
There is much to be said about a game that bases itself off a children's animated show. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but when the show is huge amongst certain sections of the world and relatively unheard of in the States, it makes it hard for a title to rise above a certain amount of criticism. What's more is the fact you can pick up the title for around 20 bucks at your local game store.
The only problem is actually finding the game at your local game store. The inaccessibility of the title is an indicator the game may not be up to snuff for gamers out there looking for the next title to keep them occupied on their DS. Once finding the game, I have to admit my anticipations was not that high considering the lack of availability. However, I have to say it was not all doom and gloom once I began my misadventure with the aliens from the animated children's show.
The game is loosely based on the show. Five Aliens land on Earth and befriend a young boy named Tommy. The story here begins when Tommy and the five Alien friends are abducted onto a space ship to become the main attractions at a Space Zoo one night. The five aliens are - Swanky, the blue alien with the ability to push and pull objects; Flip, an orange alien with red hair who can flap his arms and fly for short distances; Scruffy, the purple alien who is dog-like and has an incredibly sticky tongue that can stretch between gaps; Gumpers, a big pink alien who has the strength of an Ox; and Dinko, the light green alien who is capable of short bursts of speed. The aliens quickly find one another at the beginning of the game and set out to find Tommy so they can all return to Earth.
Seems simple enough, however this is probably the truest statement about the game. The game is simple at its very core. This is not an unfortunate thing, unless you were looking for a game with a little more depth. There are over 50 mazes you will have to guide your motley crew of aliens through in order to rescue Tommy. The downside to this is you are looking at about three minutes before you are done with each puzzle. There are green crystals throughout each of the mazes you will have to find in order to open the exit portal. There are obstacles that you will have to overcome in order to collect these crystals. Moving walkways, color coded key guarded force fields, patrolling robotic enemies, floor mines, and objects that you will have to destroy or move around create potential problems for you during the game. The way to progress through the game creates a good message though; the use of teamwork is vital in the game. During the beginning stages of the game, you will easily figure out which alien's special ability you will need to use and you will have to rely on switching back and forth between them in order to complete the later levels. Both a fortunate and unfortunate thing about the later levels is you will not actually have to put too much effort into which alien you use. In fact, more often than not, you are given the smiling picto-bubble of the aliens in order to help you decide. While simplistic is a good thing, overly simplistic quickly becomes boring and somewhat annoying.
During the core game, another disappointing aspect to the DS title is that the touch-screen functionality is sorely missing. Aside from being a way for you to keep track of the crystals still needed to complete a stage, there is really no additional usage of the touch style DS. Even though this is not present in the core game, you can unlock five bonus mini-games during the game. However, only four of those actually use the stylus feature. Another downfall is that those games are extremely basic touch games. Though they are entertaining while you are playing them, they may not hold your interest for very long after you start. After all, there is only so many times you can find the cup that has the item underneath it or hit the drums in beat with the music. You can also unlock a Jukebox and photo gallery for the game, but these are more of a distraction than anything.
Even though the gameplay is simple and expertly capable of enabling the player to lose interest, the graphics are among some of the best that I have seen on the DS. Colorful characters pop on the screen, and the levels themselves even sport some great level of detail for a cartoon-centered game. The music also works really well for the title. Albeit a bit annoying at times, but never to the point of turning the volume down to continue playing. Both of these features increase the play factor slightly and could increase the playability to some players. It did for me.
Pet Alien is nothing revolutionary in the truest sense. It does lack in several areas, but the simplistic nature of the game can swing both ways. For the casual gamers looking for the title to help them ease into the puzzle solving teamwork games, this is a great stepping-stone. For the hardcore gamer looking for the next great challenge, this one might waste your time with its simplicity. However, for 20 bucks it does make for a decent game. For anyone out there that loves the show or could be interested in a team-based adventure of aliens I'd say it is well worth playing. If you can find it, I would pick it up, but I wouldn't plan on making a special scavenger hunt for the title.
CCC Project Coordinator