Disney’s Kim Possible 2
Kim Possible is quite the phenomenon at my house. Since my nephew loves the cartoon, I’m forced to hear about the super agent’s exploits on a daily basis. Like many animated shows these days, Kim Possible does not talk down to its target audience at all; its combination of sophisticated language and penchant for over-the-top dramatics make it a mildly entertaining watch for adults as well.
You’ve got to chuckle when the kids are laughing at something silly, and Kim or one of her buddies (Ron Stoppable perhaps) will slip in something that flies quite a bit above the children’s heads and you realize how well you both are being engaged. Kim’s charm and accessibility are what led me to try out her second outing for the GameBoy Advance. Well, that and the fact that I’m a sucker for a good 2D action-adventure.
The first thing you’ll notice about Drakken’s Demise (so named after Kim’s nemesis), is how great the graphics are. The cartoon renderings look straight out of the show, and they make the visuals in the first game look remarkably sloppy by comparison. All the criminal masterminds fans love to hate are depicted perfectly–here, as bosses: from slick Falsetto Jones to the kilt-wearing Duff Killigan; from Gemini to Shego to Dr. Drakken himself.
And our heroine! Kim moves with grace and fluidity whether she’s running, jumping, clambering up ledges, or cartwheeling. As you’d expect, she can pull off a fairly simple punch and kick combo if you mash the attack button enough times. What’s a bit unexpected is that she can actually bounce on the heads of enemies to do them in from above as well. The typically cutesy platformer function looks a bit out of place in an action-adventure such as this, but hey, this is Kim Possible we’re talking about. She can do anything.
In addition to her regular moves, Kim can earn more advanced techniques along the way, such as the wall jump (zigzagging for the upwardly mobile set) and the enemy toss (which is useful for throwing brutes through glassed-off areas to reveal secrets). Similarly, Kim starts off with two very useful gadgets–the grappling hook and the lipstick–and will add several more to her bag of tricks as you progress through the levels.
The grappling hook is the most crucial to just about every scene, as it allows you to traverse the many areas where there’s just no solid ground to put your feet down. The lipstick device issues an elastic material over holes in the floor creating a makeshift trampoline effect for the sprightly Kim. Coming into play later are the hot sauce for melting attacking snowmen and the slippery ice they slide on; the stealth suit, for blending into the background in high security stages; and the compact mirror, for reflecting laser blasts back at gun-toting enemies.
You’ll go through four missions, each made up of five directives which have you swimming, rollerblading and even flying, in addition to the expected run and jump scenarios. Action game experts will find that the 20 total levels won’t give them much worry (the game saves your progress after every level and plays that delightful KP jingle–doo doo do-doo–for your trouble), and won’t take up much more than an hour and a half of their time. And thats on the first go ’round; clearing it the second time through should be possible after a mere 45 minutes of gaming.
That much said, Kim Possible 2 is not a title aimed at action game experts, and even so, seasoned vets will find a decent amount of replay value on offer. The Global Justice Simulator allows you to take on all the levels already fully “leveled up”, and having all the abilities learned from the onset will grant you access to previously inaccessible areas. When you’re able to slip into these secret places, you’ll be able to do a lot better (if not perfectly) at the three areas the game ranks you on after every level: enemies defeated, collectibles found, and cards discovered.
While defeating all enemies and seizing all of the collectibles are tasks only worth seriously considering for the completist, procuring all available ‘trading cards’ should be quite a bit more satisfying, especially for die-hard fans, because all character cards discovered will be on display in the gallery for bragging rights.
Overall, Kim Possible 2 is miles ahead of the original in both presentation and play, and a very engaging 2D romp in general. It’s pretty easy, and it should be–it’s kids who watch the show. Kim can walk through enemies without taking damage, and when Kim is leaping from flagpole to flapole, the game makes it almost impossible to overshoot. These concessions, and others, really make the point that we’re playing My First 2D Action-Adventure.
But the game’s forgiving nature can itself be forgiven. It manages not to be insulting or patronizing, by teaching you, at the start of each level, a few new tricks that you can have fun with right away. And these aren’t tricks thrown in clumsily for the sake of it; all the cool ingredients are in keeping with the show and its appeal. Throw in cool rapport between Kim and friends Wade and Ron, fairly good tunes, and a turn playing as a naked mole rat (ooh, provocative!), and you’ve got a winner. Disney’s Kim Possible 2 is a charming time with less sweating than you’re used to: an absolute must-have for fans, kids, novice gamers, and 2D lovers who can stomach a great little game stuck permanently in training mode.
Seven out of ten