Title: Phineas and Ferb Arcade (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: December 3, 2009
iTouch?: Yes (WiFi/Internet required for scoreboard)
Pros: Quick, addictive play, free preview available
Cons: Controls sometimes difficult, navigation buttons inconsistent
Review: In a series of 3 mini-games, Phineas and Ferb brings the number one show for kids ages 6-11 (not to mention popular with every other demographic) to the iPhone.
Here’s the plot: While Phineas and Ferb are trying to build a snow mountain so they can snowboard in the backyard (S’no Problem), older sister Candace goes surfing in the backyard tide pool trying to impress Jeremy (Cowabunga Candace!), all the while Perry the Platypus is acting as Agent P, trying to protect the secret hideout from infiltrators (Agent P’s Hideout).
Here’s the thing: If you’re a Phineas and Ferb fanatic, you might find yourself thinking those game names sound familiar — and they should. All three are actual almost-direct ports of existing games you can play online for free. Granted the controls are different given the nature of a personal computer versus an iPhone (and to be honest, in the latter two games, the iPhone wins in this respect), but gameplay is virtually the same which means if you aren’t familiar with them, you can try them out online first before buying the game (see links below).
In Cowabunga Candace!, use the accelerometer or touch to move Candace from left to right as she surfs in the tide pool, avoiding obstacles and collecting tricks and strings of buoys to build up your confidence. Perform tricks for bonus points, doubled when Jeremy is on the screen. There’s no real shortage of tricks to be picked up, so use them as soon as you can. Pick up the rocket and you go into the speed round, a mini-bonus round where pick-ups are minimal and obstacles are plenty (don’t worry though, you don’t lose a life when you crash into an obstacle in the speed round, you just go back to the regular game). I found the touch controls a bit awkward (you press on the right and left sides of the screen to move in the respective directions), while the accelerometer controls worked well enough.
In Agent P’s Hideout, you are Agent P (aka Perry the Platypus) engaging in a simulation of an invasion of your secret headquarters by Dr. Doofersmirtz. All you need to do is touch his hologram whenever he appears, occasionally unleashing gold coins for you to collect and even bonus lives should you need them. Make sure you click him before he disappears however (he’ll start blinking to warn you) and avoid clicking on Major Monogram, otherwise you lose one of your three lives. It’s nothing new, but I always enjoy this type of game and it gets pretty darn fun around level 10 (and only gets insane from then on).
Finally, and my favorite of the lot, in S’no Problem, Phineas and Ferb set out to build a snowboarding mountain using a combination snowball maker-slash-automatic tennis ball server. Using a trampoline, you must use the controls (either touch or accelerometer) to position them left and right in order to catch and bounce the snowballs to the other side of the screen to build the mountain. To make things interesting, the arc of the snowballs is different each time, resulting in a different number of bounces required to move the snowballs over. To make it difficult, Dr. Doofersmitz is constantly sending over a blimp that you will need to hurl a snowball at to remove otherwise it’ll hurt your mountain-in-progress should it make it to the other side of the screen. Candace also makes occasional appearances to add more snowballs to the mix (missed snowballs make for a slippery ground), although to her dismay, she can actually be more helpful than harmful sometimes depending on her timing and I didn’t really experience any adverse affects with the missed snowballs.
Unlike the other two games, it doesn’t use a life system, but requires you to build a mountain of a certain goal height in order to move on before the snowball serving machine runs out of power. If you manage to build the mountain tall enough by the time the machine runs out, you’ll have an additional goal to reach to gain the bonus round in which you’ll move back and forth with the trampoline trying to bounce snowballs as they are tossed over a fence towards you. Unlike Cowabunga, here I found the touch controls easier to manage, although it takes some getting use to.
There are a couple of quirks too: I couldn’t get the scoreboarding option to work for me and I would constantly be alerted that I was unlocking various things, but they didn’t seem to actually offer me anything. So if anyone has a clue on that, please feel free to share.
So all said and done, is the app worth it? Honestly I find the $1.99 price point a bit high, but I’d probably agree $.99 would be a bit low and as an added bonus, the main menu plays the show’s theme song in a loop, so there’s probably some built-in licensing and royalty charges there too.
The good news is you can really try it all out on your own for free first and then decide. If you enjoy the games online, you’ll probably like them a bit better on the iPhone, not to mention it’s portable.
Updated: Here’s a recently released trailer for the game