A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is based on the Disney Channel TV show with which it shares its name, and playing the game will almost certainly make kids want to seek out and watch the program. There is virtually no violence, as play revolves around a pair of brothers who explore their neighborhood to find parts to build and upgrade vehicles and create tracks upon which to ride them. They're often chased by their older sister, Candace, who wants to tell their mother what they've been up to.
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What's it about?
Sprung from the Disney Channel's Emmy-nominated cartoon for gradeschoolers, PHINEAS AND FERB follows the adventures of a pair of brothers as they try to spice up their summer holidays by building their own amusement park rides out of discarded items lying around their neighborhood. Much of the game sees them exploring backyards and streets, looking for things like screws and old motors while avoiding their mean older sister, Candace, whose sole mission seems to be to haul her siblings before their mother. Once they've collected enough items, the game switches to creation mode, where they assemble the bits and bobs they've found into vehicles and courses, which they then get to ride.
Is it any good?
With virtually nothing in the way of violence, Phineas and Ferb is fine entertainment for elementary school kids. What's more, it makes creative use of the DS' touch screen. The neighborhood adventuring involves stroking and tapping the screen in a variety of intuitive ways to search for items and navigate obstacles, and vehicle parts are assembled by spinning them around with the stylus until their jagged edges fit together like puzzle pieces. There's also a nifty mechanic that involves one brother jumping on the other's shoulders, which lets them hide from their sister and interact with objects that are otherwise out of reach.
The rides players spend so much time striving to build, are, rather anticlimactically, the weakest part of the game. The controls are stiff and the objectives provided while riding -- such as leaping over paint cans and collecting items -- are simple relative to the rest of the game. Still, it is undeniably an above-average interactive incarnation of a kids cartoon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of making projects out of discarded junk, as Phineas and Ferb do. Are there items lying around your house that, with a bit of imagination and elbow grease, you could turn into a toy or perhaps a work of art? Do you think you'd achieve a better sense of satisfaction if you built something yourself as opposed to buying it?
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