Kazlo's Kim-stravaganza!
by Kazlo

Kim Possible. Love it, hate it, or don't give a damn about it, but you gotta give the show its due; it's one of the slickest TV shows to emerge from Disney's maw in a little while. My experience with the actual show is limited, but I've seen enough to know two things: the animation is great, and between all the action and fighting it's one of the only Disney shows that would be a logical choice to translate to a video game. Since those are two of the most important standards by which I judge everything in life, I figured who else better is there to subject to crappy licensed games than I? Well, subject I did, to the three games I could easily get my hands on, and came back with only a few scars to show for it. Read on! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember to take your angst medication and then you won't feel anything at all!



Kim Possible: Revenge of Monkey Fist!

Hoo boy. Where do I even start with this one.

Well, the opening of the game is as good a place as any. A grainy, shitty-sounding five-second clip of the intro from the show that cuts off before the song finishes properly. If nothing else, it sets the tone for the rest of the game.



As far as I can tell, the plot is that Kim has been severely irradiated, making her hair a bright neon red with yellow highlights, as opposed to, you know, solid orange like it is on the TITLE SCREEN. The radiation also made her look and sound utterly retarded, and the only way she can endure the taunting of her peers is by running around beating the shit out of all of them for no real reason.

Whoops, I already described all of the gameplay before I even got to the gameplay paragraph. Essentially the entire game is spent running in a straight line jumping over the occasional hazard and punching people (or monkeys) in the face. It's ludicrously easy even on the "normal" difficulty (that's as high as it goes), particularly if you discover the two kickass bugs I found before finishing the first level.

1. - Normally jumping on an enemy's head kills them and hurts you. However, if you land on their head while doing a jumpkick, neither of you will be harmed and you'll bounce in the air as high as if you jumped again, allowing you to pass over several enemies in one go. They probably caught this bug and simply called it "double-jumping" or "leapfrogging" in the manual so they wouldn't have to actually fix it.



2. - Cartwheeling will make you phase through enemies without taking damage. This one might have actually been intentional but I like to hope not when it's possible to pass through 80 percent of the enemies in a level by cartwheeling through the whole stage like Diddy Kong after he got ahold of some bad drugs.

About the only time the game mixes things up is when it throws a boss at you. Here, let's take a look at the fuckawesome Shego battle.



Cool stuff! I seriously wish it took some kind of special glitch or trick to make Shego do this, but it doesn't. Hell, 2 out of 3 times I can win the fight without her even trying to attack me simply by standing next to her. I would have thought since one of her two attack moves is designed to hit you if you get too close, she might actually consider... using it at some point? The other boss I managed to reach, Monkey Fist, is only slightly better. He actually attacks you occasionally, although most if his damage is dealt by leaping through the air and landing inside you, which does nothing if you're blocking at the time but results in damage as soon as either of you move. Fun! Also note how the video clip they stole from the show has nothing to do with the content or location of the actual fight.

I wanted to preserve my precious integrity by finishing all of these games before discussing them. In fact, I planned to record myself playing the whole of Kim Possible, speed it up to about a minute or two and include it, since I could speed through the whole game in about half an hour by abusing the cartwheeling and jump-kicking bugs. But a little ways into level five I fell into this pit.



Normally Wade, your radio guy, sends you a message when you walk into a certain spot, which you can read by hitting select, and it will tell you how to get out of a certain situation. Unfortunately, at my breakneck pace I ran past the magical message spot, and this time, walking back didn't make the message reappear. I wandered around the area for a while, but couldn't figure out how to get past the pit, and since my straight-ahead run didn't require any save states, I was gonna have to replay the game to figure out how to move forward. Even though I was only about twenty minutes (over halfway, no, seriously) through the game, the horrid sprites, mystifying bugs and repetitive gameplay had eroded me to the point I honestly didn't give a shit anymore. Congratulations, Kim Possible, you discovered depths of apathy within me I never even knew I had. God... I need to go play Ninja Gaiden or something.

Overall:



Kim Possible 2: Drakken's Demise!

So after that stinkburger I thought there was no way another Kim Possible game was going to be half-decent. I mean... if Disney themselves can't capture what makes the show appealing and translate it into a game, isn't a sequel just going to be more ass?

Well... not so much, actually. Disney got smart and decided to hire a proper dev team for this game, by the name of A2M (huh huh huh... huh huh huh huh). Believe it or not, Kim Possible 2: Drakken's Demise takes a lot of its inspiration from classic platformers and even adds some stuff of its own to the genre. More surprising still, it's not so simple you could breeze through it without looking.

The game's presentation is pretty good. It opens with a decent imitation of the show's opening, although much shorter and lacking vocals (that's right... I've seen the show. Several times. And you know something? Fuck you, it's a great show. It's well-animated, clever, funny and is the first show in years that provides a truly strong, independant role model to young girls everywhere, who isn't afraid to kick ass. People like you make me sick. Always claiming there are no good kids' shows on TV today, just because they're not watching the shows YOU saw as a kid. Well, times change, bucko, and today's writers need to eat as well!). Uh... what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, the game. The menus are pretty basic, but the little dialogue scenes before each level have some nice art and decent writing, though they are a little bland. Plus, it would have been nice to see some more appearances from the other characters mid-mission. Overall, it's enough to keep fans happy and non-fans in the loop.

Graphics and sound are a little harder to quantify. Backgrounds are simple and angular, with only a few shades of colour, but they match the style of the show. There are quite a few little background touches and, though you revisit certain tilesets, there's a pretty good variety and they all have very different colour schemes and designs. Sprites are about the same quality as those in the Mega Man Zero series, and better animated. Kim in particular moves and flips around with motions and weight very similar to the show. Also, she looks like a kitty. Here kitty!



Similar story for sound. The sound effects are serviceable, as good as you could expect from a GBA game. The music has a style of its own and sounds pretty funky, but loops a little more frequently than it should. Still, neither of them ever get annoying, which is the most you can hope for from a portable game.

Of course, the gameplay is what it's all about. Unlike the flat, boring levels in Kim Possible 1, Drakken's Demise is full of climbing, platforming goodness, and violence. The level of challenge isn't that high, to be honest. It's certainly harder than Kim Possible 1, which is like being harder than a down comforter or a marshmallow penis, but it doesn't present much of a challenge for an experienced gamer. The enemies are basically bricks of meat whose sole purpose is to slow you down by however long it takes you to smack them a few times. That said, there are a few tricky platforming challenges to be had by collection perfectionists, and the gameplay is varied enough to hold your attention for a while. You start with two gadgets, accessible via the L button, to help you get around, and unlock a new one at the start of each chapter.



Bionic Commando nuffin'! The grappling hook attatches to any surface you can bonk your head on, and is retractable or extendable. It's not bad for applying boot to baddie face, and it even clings to moving platforms.



The sticky lipstick seems useless at first, but it can be thrown across small gaps such as manhole covers to create a handy pink jumping pad. This one doesn't seem as much like a super-spy tool to me... I mean, that is what lipstick is for, right? Ladies?



Packets of delicious Frank's Red Hot© are indispensible for sandwiches, snowman enemies, icy barricades and even barbecue! Try them in a dip, a marinade, or just throw them on the ground to halt incoming enemies with genuine cayenne heat. Sizzle up your summer!



The stealth suit wraps around Kim symbiote-style and lets her fade into the background to avoid patrolling enemies. To be perfectly honest it's not half as useful as a simple kick to the face most of the time, but inexplicably it does also allow you to avoid detection by patrolling lasers and fireballs, who are usually unfazed by offensive moves.



The make-up case/mirror deflects projectiles back at attacking enemies. I think this one's based on reality, too.

On the whole, you could do a lot worse than Drakken's Demise. If you have a family member who's a fan of the show it would make a good gift, and you might get a little fun out of it yourself.

Overall:



Kim Possible: What's The Switch?

Man... it's getting late. Peaches just pointed out the brilliance in choosing to write a piece on a game series nobody but me would possibly play. A depressing realization, but also a freeing one. Are you really still reading this?

What's the Switch? is the only Kim Possible game to come out on a console proper, and, in some ways, it's the best one in the series so far. Like Drakken's Demise, it stands up as a decent game in its own right, and it's the first to really make good use of the license, with a sense of humour and meaningful appearances by characters from the show. Did you know there's an episode of the show where Shego loses her memory and becomes a teacher at Kim's school?



First up, the graphics. If you're the kind of person who values design over raw graphical POWAH, What's the Switch? is a treat. The character models are a little stiff up close, but they're rendered in a cel-shaded style that matches the line colours used in the cartoon. It's hard to describe, but it means the edges of a character's hair, or clothing, or whatever, is outlined in the appropriate colour rather than simple black. It looks really sharp. It should go without saying that the animation on Kim and Shego is fantastic. The backgrounds look pretty slick as well. The game is a 2D platformer, but the backgrounds and foregrounds are full of little details, and a few places, like the inside of a Paris clock tower, are downright impressive. Seriously, I just found out about this episode now. I didn't know beforehand. See, when Shego has had her mind wiped of all her history with Kim, she actually takes a liking to her, and actively tries to become her friend.



The sound caught me off guard as well. The sound effects are still fine, and the game is chock-full of dialogue, all spoken by the voice-actors from the show, all of whom sound right in their element. The music is awesome, too. Lengthy, bouncy, and catchy. Now, with the aggression of the past behind them, Kim and Shego become fast friends, sharing time, secrets, and even hugs.

What's the Switch? was made by A2M, the developers of Drakken's Demise, and it shows. However this game fixes almost everything that was wrong with it. The story, presented through writing and cutscenes only a little below par for the show, is that a mystical artifact switches the minds and bodies of Ron, Kim's useless but loveable partner, and Drakken, Shego's useless but lovable evil boss, and Kim and Shego, recurring rivals, have to team up to undo the mindswap. It's a great original use of the license, and one of my favourite parts of the game is the loading screen art showing Drakken and Ron (in opposite bodies) sitting around while Kim and Shego are adventuring. As the game progresses the loading screens show Ron and Drakken arguing, fighting, destroying each other's possessions, crying, scheming, getting in trouble, and eventually reconciling their differences and chilling together. To anyone familiar with the characters, it's a cool and totally appropriate touch. Good touch. Very good touch.



Unfortunately, there's one problem Drakken's Demise had that has gone unchanged, and that's the difficulty. Don't get me wrong, I know it's meant for kids and non-gamers, but I wish there was at least a difficulty setting that would provide some challenge. On top of that, the game is a little on the short side and the bonus collectables don't go very far in giving it replay value. The gameplay is mostly an extension Drakken's Demise, with platforming, fighting and gadgets all expanded upon. None of the levels are very hard, but there are some interesting and genuinely cool parts, particularly in the "staging" of the levels, the way they curve around the 3D backgrounds. As an added bonus, you periodically switch between playing as Kim and Shego during the game. It's mostly a cosmetic change, as they retain similar abilities and gadgets, but it's neat all the same. Speaking of change, Shego gets her memory back at the end of the episode. It ends with her wistfully looking at the photographs of the time she and Kim spent together as she prepares to burn them.



Delivering a final word on What's the Switch? is difficult. It's a stylish and well-polished, albeit far from perfect game, but the low difficulty and short length make it hard to recommend to any skilled gamer in good conscience. Like Drakken's Demise, I'll say if someone you know is a fan, or simply not that great at games, it's a rare licensed game that stands on its own, and a rarer one still that effectively uses its namesake.

Overall:


Well, it's been a lot of fun (no it hasn't) and I only wish we could spend a little more time together (no I don't you smell bad), but it's been a long day and I think we've all learned something. We've learned it's tiring putting time and money into games that really never asked for such attention in the first place. We've learned that Disney, gods of platformers that they once were, can't make a GBA game worth a marshmallow penis on their own these days. And I've learned that my career playing Kim Possible games, like all good things...


like all beautiful things...



...must end.





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