Thunderbolt logo

Garfield and His Nine Lives

Garfield’s overweight, lazy, constantly eating, and his sense of humor is mean-spirited, but you can’t help but love him. Whether you think he’s funny or not, Garfield is an instantly recognizable cultural icon. The iconic orange cat has been featured in movies, television, and on the back of car windows across the world. Garfield has been successful across a variety of mediums, but his success has never translated into the video game world. Garfield’s most recent foray into the electronic world of bits and bytes, Garfield and His Nine Lives, fails to capture the success of the Garfield franchise due to a few fundamental flaws.

screenshot

Garfield and His Nine Lives is a 2D platformer. There’s nothing in terms of a storyline. Garfield is simply thrust into various locations and situations. This is disappointing. As someone who grew up reading a lot of Garfield comics, the strips that stuck with me most are the ones that carried on a setting or theme for a few days. One series, chronicling Garfield’s earliest visit to the Arbuckle Farm to meet Jon’s parents, was (and still is) hilarious. Garfield’s cartoon put him in a new adventure every week. There’s really no reason for the lack of a storyline given the lengthy history of this franchise.

“The environments are very simple and amateurish.”While the lack of a storyline is a disappointment, it’s an overlookable oversight. However, one thing that I cannot overlook is the terrible collision detection. It can be surprisingly difficult to line Garfield up to attack an enemy. His main attack, a kick, is powerful, but using it is rather cumbersome. It’s tricky to get yourself situated and several times I thought that I was in position to kick my enemy into oblivion only to be hurt while my target continued on unscathed. This can get particularly frustrating. Garfield’s other abilities include a belly-flop and shoulder ram, but these are used for destroying obstacles. He can’t just fall on his enemies and crush them to death, which seems to go against the idea of Garfield (he’s a giant fat cat, he should crush everything) and when ramming enemies, Garfield bounces off.

screenshot

The environments that Garfield jumps, kicks, flops, and rams through are uninteresting. While each level generally includes a couple of side areas to explore, most are limited in design and interaction. There are usually only a few objects that can hurt you (rakes on the farm, flaming hoops at the circus, etc.) and there’s not a whole lot of actual “platforming.” The environments are very simple and amateurish. A haunted house level, the second in the game, could have been exciting, but it only features a few enemies and the level is devoid of any objects. You seriously just walk up and down stairs to find a key at the end of the level and then walk back. Along the way, you collect food and try to avoid having to fight so you don’t die from the poor collision detection.

“Garfield and His Nine Lives is a 2D platformer. There’s nothing in terms of a storyline. Garfield is simply thrust into various locations and situations. This is disappointing.”That doesn’t make for a very fun adventure. Platforming games are best when they’re challenging and get you addicted to collecting every item you can. Garfield and His Nine Lives is only challenging because of a flawed design. There’s nothing addicting about collecting and collecting items is made even worse because every time you die, you’re resurrected at the beginning of the level and have to collect all the items over again (though you can collect extra lives again and again). The ten or so levels are uninteresting and complimented by music and sound effects that I am honestly led to believe previously were featured in slot machines. The only highlights that I can really think of are a few boss battles that were slightly less monotonous than the main game and the fact that Garfield himself is animated very well.

screenshot

This could have actually been an interesting game, but unfortunately it’s uninspired and boring licensed drivel that few people are going to enjoy. I imagine the target audience for this game is young children, but I think they’ll become frustrated with the combat mechanics just as quickly as I was. While the Garfield franchise should lend itself rather well to video gaming, Garfield and His Nine Lives just is not good. This is definitely one to avoid, but you probably weren’t really interested in it anyway.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

Think you can do better? Write for us.