Impossible Not To Frustrate –
UFO has turned their Johnny character into their main mascot. Originally a KungFu master, LCD star and shooting gallery bandit, Johnny is shaping up to be the guy for any job (just like Mario). Unfortunately, the 3rd time for this generic character is not a charm as Johnny Impossible is another flawed and poorly designed 3DS eShop game.
Johnny Impossible is a 2D platformer that is somewhat similar to Disney’s Kim Possible series found on the GBA or even classic Metroid. With only a few basic abilities available at the start, Johnny gains access to new areas as new items are acquired. For example, the grapple gun allows for vertical climbing and the magnetic gloves introduce ceiling walking. This is a winning video game formula that has been around for 20 years but lacking design choices hold back the entire experience.
Each item that Johnny collects has limited use thanks to a frustrating regenerating energy bar. The best example of this comes from the night vision goggles, an item that is found in the beginning of the game. Without them, the player only has a small field of vision. Each tap of the night vision goggle button illuminates the entire screen for a few seconds, but then quickly fades away and needs time to recharge before it can be used again. Using this gameplay mechanic simply is not fun and extremely hinders gameplay; it is cheap and unfair to blindly miss a simple jump or walk into a security laser that can instantly create a game over because the game doesn’t want the player to see it.
Speaking of game overs, Johnny Impossible treats stealth in a unique but dumb way. The overall goal is to sneak your way to the end of each stage. But if you walk through a laser or become seen by a security robot, the game goes into alert mode, kind of like when spotted in any Metal Gear game. When in alert mode, the player then only has a few seconds to enter the next screen before some stupid bird comes and mercilessly one-hit kills the player. This entire process just doesn’t make any sense and short changes the experience. An instant death bird that cannot be escaped?! Really!??
Making matters even worse is the flawed save system. The player must complete each stage in a certain amount of time and getting spotted reduces that available time incrementally. However, the player is free to save the game at will by tapping the Start button so it is wise to save every time any forward progress is made – think emulator save states. If you forget to save and die, the player is either forced back to the beginning of the game or can reload back to the last save. Like waiting for the necessary night vision goggles to recharge every few seconds, it is necessary to save every other minute when progress is made. It is annoying and time consuming to constantly back out to the pause menu and go through the process of saving each time you make it to a new screen.
The story line is also ridiculous and basically makes fun of itself; it is like the designers knew whatever they could come up with was going to suck so instead they just tried and make a joke out of it. Johnny, for some reason, is tasked with stopping the Wang Gang and is just thrown into the adventure without any background info or reason. The lacking and nonsensical plotline only hurts the game’s overall presentation.
Besides 2D sidescrolling stages, the player occasionally has to complete Game & Watch style mini games just like Johnny’s first game, Johnny KungFu. This hacking mini game is basically a new version of classic Manhole but just feels so out of place both visually and gameplay-wise in comparison to the rest of the game. But in all honesty, I had the most fun playing these minor mini games. It is just so jarring that it is almost like getting two completely different games in one.
Animation is stiff which in turn makes the controls stiff. Johnny just doesn’t run and jump with the precision of Mario or Klonoa and can result in unwanted accidents. Like the other Johnny games, the art style is simple and straightforward; the same goes for the audio department. There is no online functionality and the Achievement system is nothing to get excited about. Earning the “use the night vision goggles 100 times” achievement will unfortunately be earned much sooner than you think.
Johnny Impossible is a weak attempt at recreating the tried-and-true Metroid style gameplay thanks to deficient design choices. This $5.99 3DS eShop download isn’t worth your time.
Not As Good As: Disney’s Kim Possible (GBA), Lady Sia (GBA)
On Par With: pretty much all other UFO games
Also Try: Splinter Cell (GBA), Wolverine’s Revenge (GBA), or Shantae (GBC)