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Codename: Kids Next Door Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E.
Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Global Star Software
Developer: High Voltage Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (3D)/ Adventure/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
Codename: Kids Next Door Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. is based upon a Cartoon Network cartoon of the same name (sans the Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. portion). As such, the developers did a wonderful job in translating the look and feel of the cartoon itself into a playable videogame medium. The graphics are bright and crisp, and the characters are animated to perfection. Players should expect to find themselves immersed in levels that appear directly out of the cartoon itself, complete with themed bosses and enemies overflowing with subtle humor and gags. The color pallet is incredible as well; never does the game appear bleached or dark.

The sound and audio work is a stellar effort as well. Especially the voiceovers, which integrate so flawlessly into the action that it can become easy to forget that this is, in fact, a game (and not the cartoon itself). Accompanying the solid voicework are a plethora of cartoon boings and whirls that complete the animated environment. The in-play music itself is a little generic sounding, but at the same time, manages not to distract the player from the action at hand.

The gameplay itself (not unlike the graphics and sound) is straight out of the animated series. Missions are broken down so that the player has the opportunity to take command of each of the five main characters (adorably named Numbah 1 through 5) with corresponding level designs unique to each of them. Locations are sometimes reused, but this isn't to be mistaken for lack of level variety. Each level is a well-written exercise in variety, ranging from Numbah 2's scrolling Galaga-style blasting, to Numbah 3's wild hamster collecting (complete with her ability to glide using her sleeves).

The levels each offer their own challenges complete with a slanted theme that adults will find oddly humorous, while children and fans of the series will come to expect.

Unfortunately, although the plot itself is linear, the whole mixed bag of objectives often feels disjointed in fashion to sharing the couch with a channel surfer or watching anything edited by MTV. None of the individual elements comes off as being refined, especially the main bulk of platforming due to the fact that the collision detection is quite sloppy. This, coupled with lack of camera controls, will all too often result in failing to reach a required platform. The ranged and melee combat are also sloppier than need be as a result of said camera and collision problems.

Adults and seasoned gamers will have little trouble wiping the game out in two or three sessions. Children, however, will likely be quite at home with the difficulty level of Codename: Kids Next Door Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. The game focuses far more heavily on action (without being violent) than on over-complicated puzzle solving or backtracking objectives. The direction of the plot is fairly linear and will be enjoyed by players of all ages.

Unfortunately, the lack of camera controls and poor collision detection will more than produce an occasional moment of frustration - making the game more difficult than it should be.

Game Mechanics:
The name of the game is variety and Codename: Kids Next Door Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E.'s developers clearly went to great measures to assure a video game that can be called anything but repetitive. At its core though, Codename: KND is a platformer, which fits the bill nicely as far as the characters and themes are concerned: Floating platforms to time, laser beams to dodge, items to collect, electrified floors to avoid, switches to trip, weapons to power-up, and bosses to pummel are all present here. There are even stealth stages (a trend that I could do without).

In addition, the game offers replayability in the form of rainbow teddie collecting, in which nabbing 100 per level unlocks secrets. Heading into the Top Secret section offers no shortage of cool unlockables from digitized cut scenes, to trading cards, concept arts, cheat codes, even alternate outfits for our heroes.

Despite its target market to the younger set, Codename: KND could have earned pretty good grades for gamers of all age groups thanks to its varied game play, beautifully done visuals, swift pacing, responsive controls, and reasonable difficulty. Unfortunately, poor collision detection and a lack of camera controls result in a solid C average... which if you'll remember from your grade school report cards, while still passing, isn't cause for celebration.

-Jay G. Money, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jason Giacchino

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