Garfield’s Fun Fest Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Garfield’s Fun Fest Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Not Fun

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.

Garfield's Fun Fest screenshot

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.

Garfield's Fun Fest screenshot

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.

Garfield's Fun Fest screenshot

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.

Combat is also a surprisingly simple matter. A quick button-press is generally all that’s required to dispatch an enemy. Combine that with the overly-simplified platforming elements and you’ve got yourself one very easy game. Admittedly, it’s going to be tougher for its target audience (clearly young children), but the only remotely difficult aspect of this game is making it through the stages without passing out, and even that’s not a challenging feat.

Garfield's Fun Fest screenshot

There are a couple other gameplay sections that break up the platforming: flying levels; Odie-riding levels (weird, I know); and performance levels. All three are pathetically simple. Flying is just a matter of collecting items as you fly by, and riding around on Odie is a similar item-gathering venture. Performing is slightly more interesting, but even that is fairly unimpressive. It’s fails to be rhythm based, sadly, and instead all you have to do is tap icons as the pass across the screen. Again, it’s clear that this is not a game targeted toward the traditional gamer. But even for a younger child, I can’t imagine these repetitive tasks being all that fun.

But fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), Garfield’s Fun Fest is over in a flash. I don’t joke when I say there’s no more than an hour of core gameplay here, and the collectibles you can get for replaying it are simply not worth it. Even at a budget price, you get the feeling that you’ve been ripped off once you come all-too-quickly to the boring conclusion. Garfield’s Fun Fest is an example of the dev team being really lazy with a title just because it is for kids.

As a mainstream game, Garfield’s Fun Fest is absolutely horrendous, and even as a kid’s game it fares little better. A complete lack of effort on the part of the developers has led to a title that has boring, repetitive gameplay, poor sound and visuals, lack of humor or even a mildly entertaining storyline, and a total dearth of value. It’s a textbook example of a bad game, and I highly advise against playing, much less purchasing, Garfield’s Fun Fest.

While colorful and generally pretty, the game animates absolutely terribly. 3.4 Control
They’re functional and get the job done, but touch-screen integration is half-baked. 1.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Terrible-sounding music and a complete lack of any voice work. 1.0

Play Value
Within an hour the credits have rolled, and there’s next to no reason to go back and play through again.

1.9 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play through 15 platforming levels.
  • Control Garfield and Odie.
  • Eat food as you progress through stages to keep Garfield going.

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