Codename Kids Next Door is your typical television to video game sidescroller designed for kids.
As it turns out, the drinking age for soda pop has been increased to 13 years. Five kids vow to keep the fizzy stuff flowing by supplying young kids with the pop of their choice. Think of it like the 1920’s alcohol Prohibition, expect with little kids, and non-violent crime.
The player will play from a voluntary selection of five different characters. Each character’s abilities and levels are different but all intertwine into one story. Even though there are five different characters with his or her own unique abilities, all levels are pretty much the same. The player starts at Point A and must get to Point B while collecting soda caps and dodging enemies.
Basically, there are two types of levels: sidescrolling run and jump, or sidescrolling flying. Two of the characters can fly around each level in any direction they want while the other three have to run and jump on the ground. No matter which character is selected, or which level is chosen, the player will always be doing the same boring thing.
The enemy and level designs are very bland and repetitive. The enemy in the blue jumpsuit will try and stop the player throughout the entire game. Of course an occasional pack of killer bees or robots will stand in your way, but the simple blue jumpsuited enemy is always a sure thing. Expect to see him about 20 times in each level. Also, this blue enemy will attack you by trying to squirt you with soda. If this is the case, shouldn’t these Kids Next Door try and capture the precious soda and give it to their friends?
Because of the simple level designs, the average player will get bored rather quickly. The only thing preventing the player from just running to the end of each level is the quest to find all the bottle caps. If all 50 bottle caps are found in each stage, then an extra life is rewarded. But since the game is so easy, I had over 30 lives before I was halfway done with each character’s second level. The easy game play will probably please a younger crowd, but older more mature gamers will definitely be looking elsewhere.
Each character has a weapon or power up that is different cosmetically from the rest of the crew but it works just the same. For example, the fat character will shoot a mustard gun to stop enemies while the kid with the shades will launch small laser bolts from a pistol. Within each character’s set of levels is a secret item. Well, it isn’t exactly secret since the game forces you to collect it, but each one of these extras will improve the character’s weapon or ability for the next stage. Example, one character will find a spring in the first level. By the time she reaches her level two, the spring will be modified with her gun. The spring will now make her jump higher. These modifications force the level design to change around them, but there still is no significant change.
Besides from the insipid game play, there are few other negative elements. First is the lack of battery save. I found myself writing down passwords as much as I was playing the game. Granted, each password is only six characters long, I still had to write them down for fear of forgetting. Also, the play control is a little touchy. Characters move a little to fast for their own good. Too many times I was running into things and missing jumps. But this also has to do with the camera. Like the quick moving play control, the camera is a little jerky. Jumping from platform to platform can be tricky because the camera always wants to move in the direction you do not desire. When jumping, the camera will pan up instead of providing a view on where it will be safe to land.
The character and enemies sprites are nicely animated because there is a certain 3D quality about them, but they lack any significant detail. Since each character’s level is pretty much the same, the backgrounds and foreground objects will be constantly repeated. The artwork could use more variation and detail. The music is also typical for a young kid based platformer. It is average at best but fits the cartoony mood of the game. The sound effects can be a little annoying however, especially when you hear the same grunt noise coming from the repeating blue jumpsuited enemy.
This game will probably please the young fans of the television show for its easy pick up and play attitude. However, the game forces players into playing the same level over and over with little variation. And there is just way too much bottle cap collecting. This game scores a little higher than average because it has some creativity in the story, but you look at it as a whole, it is your typical GBA platformer.