PHINEAS AND FERB: QUEST FOR COOL STUFF
Console: Wii U
Start Date: September 26, 2015
End Date: January 11, 2016
I really love the cartoon show Phineas and Ferb. To prove I’m not fucking around when I say that, here is a picture of me posing in front of a Phineas and Ferb topiary at Walt Disney World:
Look how goddamn happy I am! So when the Phineas and Ferb game went on sale for $5 on the Wii U eShop, even though I knew it would be a dumb game for babies, I said “what the hell” and grabbed it.
Look, Quest For Cool Stuff is exactly what you think it is: a cheaply produced platformer that was rushed to the market to exploit a popular license. You need only take a glance at the development studio’s resume to understand what kind of game this is. I haven’t intentionally played a game of this nature in a long time, but I used to play them a lot as a kid, particularly on my precious Game Boy. I have very fond memories of sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car, happily playing nonsense like Ren & Stimpy: Space Cadet Adventures and Bart Simpson’s Escape From Camp Deadly. So there’s a precedent here, and while my tastes have become more discerning since I was 12 years old, probably only marginally.
And honestly, this was a significantly better game than I expected it to be. Instead of the typical, generic run-right-until-you-win level design that these games normally exemplify, this one takes more of a “My First Metroidvania” approach, encouraging the player to explore and revisit areas once they’ve unlocked new power-ups.
For most of the game, you play as Phineas and Ferb in a mech-suit, exploring temple-like areas, switching between the two characters to access their different abilities. As you progress through the game, you unlock new features for the mech-suit, which allow you passage to previously inaccessible areas. Like I said, Metroidvania.
Like on the TV show, the “main story” is occasionally put aside in favor of segments featuring Perry the Platypus. These sections involve infiltrating Dr. Doofenshmirtz’ lair, and focus more on simplistic stealth-based gameplay.
If you’re a fan of the cartoon, you’ll be pleased to hear that the game adequately captures the show’s sense of humor – particularly in the Perry segments, which are peppered with typically hilarious Doofenshmirtz one-liners. Its graphics are also very pretty, colorful and charming.
One problem I noticed is that the sound is very buggy – often, for no discernible reason, one or two of the tracks (music, voices, or sound effects) will suddenly silence themselves, often to a weirdly eerie effect. This problem will persist until you exit out of the game completely and restart. This is an issue I’ve noticed before in cheap-ass shovelware games, but it was disappointing to see it here.
Quest For Cool Stuff is also, as you might expect, ridiculously easy. Often to the point where playing it starts to feel like you’re just going through the same motions over and over. The reason I put the game aside in September and didn’t pick it up again until January is simply that it was starting to bore me to death. Once I returned to it, after that long break, I found myself enjoying it again, at least at first. And then I got to the Moon level…
In the game’s final stage, Phineas and Ferb travel to the Moon. At first I was kind of excited about this, just because it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite games DuckTales. But unlike DuckTales, this moon level features altered gravity, so every jump is super floaty and takes about 10 goddamn seconds to land. Simply walking to the right and hopping over obstacles is an endless, mind-numbing process, and I wanted to rip my goddamn hair out by the time I reached the end of the level. I don’t know who the fuck thought this was a good idea, but they should be immediately fired and publicly executed.
Anyway, I eventually beat the fucking game.
As you can tell, I wasn’t really crazy about this game. But that’s mostly because, obviously, it’s not for me. It’s for children, who have a higher tolerance for repetition and a lower tolerance for challenge. By those standards, I think this is actually a pretty good game (Moon level notwithstanding), and far better than most of the video games developed for that demographic. I wouldn’t recommend getting this for yourself, but if there’s a young Phineas and Ferb fan in your life, this will serve as a fun, gentle introduction to Metroidvania platformers. And it’s something you can probably play with them without wanting to completely kill yourself.