The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is anything but grim. Unless of course your idea of grim is a whacked-out good time.
You either know about the cartoon series, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy or you don’t have a clue. Don’t be surprised if after finding out about this animated series that you still don’t have a clue. This Cartoon Network show is absolutely nuts. It’s got elements of Sponge Bob, Ren & Stimpy and Monty Python just to name a few. Sometimes it’s just plain crazy for the sake of being crazy, but any reason to be crazy is good enough for me. It’s also filled with a healthy does of cartoon violence which is why this game is a fighter and not some cheesy kart racer. There are some platform elements mixed in but overall the gameplay is an open-ended brawler. There are plenty of modes and unlockables to divert your attention from all of the button mashing. The multi-player modes ensure plenty of replay value.
Billy is what you would call a bit of a dolt. Mandy is a creepy, manipulative “bad girl. In an effort to save their hamster from death, they challenged the Grim Reaper to a fight and won. Now “Grim” as he called, is forced to hang with these two characters whether he likes it or not. And for the record, he doesn’t like it. This game works well on two levels. It’s fun and entertaining as a stand-alone videogame, and it also manages to capture the manic madness of the series perfectly. It’s not important that you know anything about the show to enjoy the game, in fact the less you know the less confused you’ll be. Just go with the flow and enjoy.
There are three main modes, with various sub-modes to unlock. The Story mode puts you front and center into one of the cartoon episodes. You’ll note that the 3D graphics surpass those of the actual show. This mode is filled with cutscenes which are interspersed among fights, exploration and collecting. The Mission mode features more than 40 different tiered fights which get progressively more difficult. You’ll unlock more playable characters as you go. You can even play the Mission mode with another player co-op style. Even though there are numerous playable characters there is no advantage to playing any specific one since they all share the same move sets and abilities.
The multi-player mode accommodates four players. You can have up to four teams with bots filling in for the other players. There are 15 characters to choose from in addition to nine modes which are variations of the standard Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag and Last Man Standing. These sub-modes will be responsible for a lot of replay value if you’re at all interested in the multi-player aspect of this game. If you’re not going to take advantage of these modes you might consider renting this game.
Control of your character couldn’t be more straightforward. You have a light and heavy attack along with double jumps, a dash, combos and the ability to pick up items and characters and throw them. The combos are released by mashing the buttons. They are context sensitive and are activated in such a way that they feel almost natural, as though the CPU is actually making sense out of all that neurotic tapping. The environments are well detailed and are almost entirely destructible. Let’s not forget the great assortment of weapons that you can use on your foes. There are clubs, swords, hammers, bones, maces, scythes and even a vacuum cleaner.
The original cast from the cartoon show supplies the dialog, in addition to some narration from Weird Al. While the dialog in the story mode is great, since it’s weaving a tale, it does get repetitive in the other modes. But what is delivered is delivered with panache. The writing is also very good although some may argue that it’s just the ramblings of a sick mind. The music and sound effects are equally bizarre and manage to capture, sonically, the manifestation of this sick and twisted creation.
It’s nice to see that The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is so comfortable being a videogame when so many games based on cartoon shows turn out to be horrible examples of projects that can’t survive crossing mediums. The gameplay is simple but filled with a variety of elements guaranteed to lengthen those short attention spans.