Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: The Genie & the Amp DS Review
So a Cartoon Network license automatically means big cash, right? Well, not so fast. You see, kids like a good license but you actually have to back it up with some kind of gameplay-balanced weight in order to get the people to purchase your game. Otherwise, you're going to find copies of the likes of Cartoon Network Speedway returned to you like almost immediately. Unfortunately, a developer has yet to learn how to make a Cartoon Network licensed game properly (Midway probably came closest with Ed, Edd n' Eddy for the consoles), and, at this point, D3 Publisher comes no closer.
In fact, the budget-game publisher may have pushed themselves further away from the finish line than they would have liked with Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: The Genie and the Amp, an intolerably bad game that had some ideas going for it, but, like all games that seem to lean more on a license than creativity, it suffers and loses the appeal it was trying to gain as a result. In the game, you take control of Ami or Yumi (actually based on real-life J-pop stars who have a great sound to them) as they try to find their rocking inspiration through a series of stages, using guitars as weapons so they can "strum" away at their enemies.
Yes, strum their guitars and fight off enemies. I suppose bad music would make anybody leave a room, but this idea's way farfetched. D3 Publisher did take a different route in development and, instead of making this a basic platformer, they instead made it a basic brawler where enemies roam around a level and you have to "beat" them with your rhythms. The only problem, though, is that the gameplay is completely incoherent. That means that your attacks only work part of the time, and the controls are so sloppy you find yourself ambushed and killed off pretty quickly. And considering also that the game has long levels and no checkpoints, that means you'll be starting off in the same spot. Over. And over. And over.
Aside from the gameplay problems, the game also has problems within its presentation. The menus are clunky and very hard to get through just to even start a game, the graphics are uninspired and look more like they're on a bumped-up Game Boy Advance level, and the music doesn't remain that solid for long, aside from the show's TV theme, which is rendered nicely here. But, really, anybody can buy a soundtrack album (or, better yet, watch the show) and rock out without wasting $30.
There are a few collectibles to unlock in the game, as well as a couple of mini-games that are worth a look, but, sadly, that means having to endure the main game and its unforgivable flaws. Ami and Yumi deserve better than this licensed garbage. Maybe they can get a spot on the Guitar Hero roster that will redeem them in gamers' eyes and give them a presence they deserve, instead of a place in licensed crud like this. I think I'd rather listen to a country album than subject myself to this again.
What's Hot: Has the catchy TV show song; decent unlockables.
What's Not: Intolerably bad gameplay; bland presentation; confusing interface.