Publisher: Buena Vista Games
Release Date: November 9, 2005
A2M's been handling development efforts of the Kim Possible games for a long time now, and it shows. Said games have earned the reputation of being decent, if nothing else, and quite faithful to their source material. Kim's latest outing is no exception: Kim Possible: Kimmunicator marks an excellent effort to bring Kim's exploits to both 3D and the Nintendo DS.
Please note: "effort" is the key word. While the game certainly gets an A for said effort, that's about where it stops. This could have been an excellent game. The DS certainly needs more platformers with its ideas, inventiveness and charm; however, it doesn't need ones that ultimately fall flat like this one does. It's got enough of those already.
I'd go into the story, but I'm not quite sure what it is. It's all haphazard. We start with Kim infiltrating Jack Henchs' henchman-providing company for clues as to a kidnapped Wade's whereabouts. Of course, as depicted on the front of the box, it's clear that Dr. Drakken has him. Too bad Kim didn't bother to look there. Ron is in Norway on a mission for Global Justice, so Kim and Rufus (a naked mole rat, for the uninitiated) are going it alone, with Rufus having his own platforming sequences in the game. Two villains from the show, Frugal Lucre and DNAmy, are thrown into the game for reasons that the story doesn't exactly spell out, especially in Lucre's case. This is exactly what I meant – while the story's full of the trademark one-liners that have made it so popular, it also leaves you scratching your head quite often, for reasons I won't mention here for the sake of spoilers.
Story aside, the game certainly looks awesome, and uses the 3D capabilities of the system well. The art style used for the backdrops and terrain is pulled straight out of the show, and the character model animation is arguably even smoother than it was back in the sprite-based GBA games. It's definitely just like watching Kim flip and kick around in a real episode.
In fact, it looks as if so much time was spent on the visuals that a few tiny, insignificant things got cut for the sake of meeting a fiscal deadline – things such as, oh, basic gameplay mechanics.
Rather than use blocky, uncaring and uncivilized paragraphs to expound, I shall take a new, yet time-honored approach to discussing this game. It's time now for another "Good Idea, Bad Idea:"
Good Idea: Making the touch-screen an inventory menu, where everything is accessible at the touch of a button or two.
Bad Idea: Making any sort of physical combat that isn't a straight punch too risky to be worth anything, via combo timing and collision problems.
Good Idea: Making inventory (such as weapons and medical kits) buyable on-the-spot whenever you want to while playing the game, instead of utilizing some sort of intermission shop screen.
Bad Idea: Giving your brand-spanking new 3D engine quite possibly the worst camera angle ever in videogames. I don't even know what word is used for it – "isometric" seems to be the closest. To make matters worse, this non-controllable camera only lets you see the objects that it wants you to see, and swivels around as such. Say goodbye to knowing what's part of the background and what's a usable surface until you actually brush up against it.
Good Idea: giving Kim lots of different outfits to fight in to show off her new 3D model.
Bad Idea: ... hiding the cheerleader outfit from me. A2M, you're horrible.
Good Idea: Including an inventive parachuting sequence where you must blow into the DS' microphone in order to give Kim a helpful wind updraft.
Bad Idea: Letting the good ideas stop there.
Good Idea: Having Shego, Kim's longtime rival, show up in glorious 3D.
Bad Idea: Not having them fight. At all. Not even a little bit. What gives, A2M? When these two meet on the show, there's always kung-fu fighting and snarky insults flung back and forth. It's a staple of the series.
Note how the Bad Ideas tend to overshadow the Good Ideas at every turn. This is why the game is scored as low as it is.
There's not much to say about the sound portions of the game – it's all fairly generic stuff. Most of it fits into the Kim Possible world; it's just that none of it stands out. There are hardly any sound effects or voice clips, either; in fact, I don't think there are any to speak of.
Finally, there's the fact that this game is incredibly short. We're talking Wario World short here, folks. Anyone with a modicum of basic platforming and video fighting skills can beat this game in a matter of hours. The only things that may add to the playtime are the controls (which can result in cheap deaths when trying to fight or hang onto cliffs) and the fact that Kim only being able to take three hits before dying makes the game a little tougher than it should be. Other than that, though, it's not a bad trip, but it's over far too quickly, and there's no reason to go through it again.
If you've got a Kim Possible fan (young or old) among your ranks, you could do a lot worse than buying this game for them. However, if you are the Kim Possible fan in question, then I urge you to take some time to think very long and hard before plunking down $30 on this game. As it stands, that's $10 an hour of missed potential at almost every turn, except for the visuals, and a few inventive parts. After that, it's all over, and you're left with ... wait, darn it, the cartridges are so small they don't even make good paperweights.
Well, I'm sure you'll think of something. I know I have to now ... wait, I know.
I'll go find that cheerleader outfit.