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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 

             

 


 


SCEA brings the big-screen adventures of the headstrong mouse to the Playstation in the latest kid-oriented title, Stuart Little 2. The game offers a decent mix of adventure and puzzle solving that should keep the little ones busy. Itís not the most original game ever made, but it plays well enough with decent controls and some cool hidden extras. Even though Stuart Little is obviously aimed at kids, that doesnít mean that older players wonít be able enjoy it.

Closely following the plot of the popular summer film, Stuart Little 2 is a decent title that does a good job of placing you into the role of the small mouse with the big heart on his adventure. As Stuart, players roam around various environments looking for some very valuable lost jewels. SL2 allows you to face off with a variety of enemies and other foes including spiders, ants and, other meanies. The main object is to find all the items in each level, and collect all six of the jeweled rings scattered around to unlock the next level. In all, there are 7 levels in the game, including the Little House, Central Park and other Manhattan locations including an aquarium. This gives the gameplay loads of variety and challenge and also opens up some cool moves including swimming and jumping. There are also several hidden locations throughout the game, which adds further to the gameís replay value, though not enough to confuse younger players.

You can get help throughout the game by calling on your bird friend Margalo as well as the famous cat Snowbell. These two characters help Stuart along the way with advice and help to use the bonus power-up items. Snowbell also guards the Jeweled Rings after you collect them. Most of the levels are structured so that they can be played non-linearly. This means you can wander around without a pre-set sequence and complete tasks as you see fit and makes the gameplay more enjoyable. There are several types of items in each level, including health power-ups and extra ammo, but the coolest things are the Face Cubes. In each level, there are several of these. When Stuart collects these, they form a bridge in another part of the level. When the bridge is complete, Stuart can cross them and get one of the hard-to-reach Jeweled Rings. This makes for an interesting layer of strategy that makes the gameplay more exciting.

Players can also engage in one of the many cool-mini-games including snowboarding, carting, skateboarding as well as a cool race speedboat mode over water that takes you through the sewers of New York City. The game allows for plenty of different moves including snowboarding, mine-carting and more. Some of the best parts of the game involve flying the small biplane around the little house. Thereís a decent structure to the game that makes it feel great. Most gamers should find that controlling Stuart isnít that difficult thanks to the excellent interface. Climbing, running and walking is straightforward, but Stuart has some cool special moves. He can collect ammo and fire it at enemies, or he can also be quite effective when using his tail-sweep to make quick work of the opponents.

While the original Playstation console is seven years old, the developers at Magneta Software have proven thereís still some life in it. The gameís mouse-eye view of the action is pretty cool, and while the environments and levels arenít detailed, the graphics are still above-average for the PS1. The gameplay is challenging with decent size levels with many secret areas. Still, some threads are starting to show and the unimpressive character animations and poor camera movement form a decidedly uninspired appearance. Still, this is a decent-looking game on balance, and while far from state of the art, it gets the job done.


Stuart Little 2ís extra modes are the highlight of the game and allow for at least some personality to shine through. Speaking of which, there are also some decent voice-overs from the filmís cast, which adds to the gameís faithful reproduction of the movieís sequences. The most-difficult part of the game is solving the puzzles, some of which arenít as simple as you would think. The game also includes some hidden extras, including short clips from the film as well as bonus levels. Despite these good points, thereís a lack of originality and creativity inherent in these types of games, which is unfortunately present throughout the experience. These simple platform games have been done many times in the past and Stuart Little 2 doesn't add much to the genre. 

Sure, there are some cool elements, such as the Face Cubes and some challenging puzzles, but the main game is lackluster. Things improve a bit when you get to the mini-games, which at least reflect the fun of Stuartís cinematic adventures. On the other hand, you also canít be too severe when judging a game based on this kind source material. Itís aimed at kids, and canít be too complex or it risks losing the very audience itís supposed to appeal to. From that angle then, this is a decent effort. It captures the feel of the movie admirably with appealing, non-taxing gameplay thatís simple, fun and enjoyable.






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