Cory In The House
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-06-18 Nintendo DS Adventure E (Everyone) Disney Interactive

Based on the TV show of the same name, Cory in the House revolves around the adventures of Cory Baxter, a boy who's dad works as the head chef in the White House. And I'm guessing that living at the White House has made Cory pretty full of himself, since you can tell by his attitude in the dialogs.

Proud Cory has won a contest by making a presidential bobblehead doll, and now has plans to market them and profit from his work. However, the boxes with the bobbleheads have gone missing, so the first mission is to retrieve them all. But that's not all! Apparently, these bobbleheads have been tampered with and are now hypnotizing people all over.

The majority of the gameplay is an adventure/exploration task. You roam around the different areas, looking for items, talking to people and dodging enemies. You control Cory with the D-Pad and use A to interact with people and objects. The tasks are just a simple "go here, find that, bring it to someone", while throwing explosive stunning Bahavian pastries at hypnotized people or guards.

Presidential seals on the floor are your save/heal spots and also a shop. You can browse the shop to purchase upgrades for your "weapons" or clothes for Cory.

The action takes place on the top screen, while the bottom screen represents your inventory. You can navigate the bottom screen with the stylus, accessing inventory and equipped items, the PDA, map and journal (which lists the goals for any given level). The PDA is useful for calling friends when you need some help and to open certain locks.

The lock mini-game shows you a sequence of numbers briefly on the top screen, then you must tap them on the touch screen within the time limit. Some locks require you to do this several times, with a different pin number each time. Not very imaginative for a mini-game, and offers no challenge whatsoever.

The other mini-games aren't all that impressive either. One of them has you bypassing some wire connections. First, you unplug all the colored cables, then you plug them back in, in the order shown on the top screen (for example, blue to red, green to yellow and so on).

To take Cory from one place to another (say, from the White House to the Mall) you play a totally unnecessary game called Road Run. Here you tap the arrows on the touch screen, representing a left turn, a right turn and going straight, in order to get Cory from start to finish, within the time limit.

The remote flying mini-game is clunky at best. You control a little helicopter that looks like a bug (Buzzy the Fly Spy, apparently a CIA device) by using either the D-pad or dragging it with the stylus. The thing is, if you use the D-pad, the controls are sluggish and the fly won't respond right away moving the way you wanted it to. If you use the stylus - and if you're right-handed like I am - your hand will be too busy to let you use the X button to shoot at obstacles. There is something involving the triggers and the microphone, but to be honest, I didn't even understand the explanation before the mini-game when all the buttons, alternatives, functions and text popped all over the dual screens. Two screens of instructions in a game that's aimed at younger ages and still manages to confuse me doesn't really work.

At the end of each chapter, Cory meets up with Meena and Newt to "jam". The band rehearsal sessions are a rhythm-based game, just like the dancing one in High School Musical 2. For the drums, you tap the notes as the circle matches their outline. For the guitar, you strum by tapping and dragging the note. For the singing, you tap to start the note and lift when it's done. None of it is synchronized with the music, which sounds like any cheap midi you can find as background music for a lot of weird websites or as the ringtone of any 10-year-old cellphone.

The area maps aren't very imaginative, and they are placed on a starry blue background as if they were just isolated areas with no connection to the rest of the world. And there is no continuity when you move around either. It's not like the areas are large either, but still, the screen fades to black whenever you go through a doorway, just like in High School Musical 2. Even if the next area is just a small square room. The characters (yes, you briefly play as Meena and Newt) also seem to move on preset paths, which becomes particularly annoying in places where you need to push crates out of the way, since Cory didn't seem to line up with them properly.

I suppose the dialogs attempt to follow the style of the show and try to be funny, since there are some laugh tracks here and there. But jokes like "Chicken? Me? I'm so brave I don't even eat chicken!" really make me wonder who actually laughs at them. And what's with the disorienting scrolling background? I can understand the speech bubbles scrolling up to make room for the next character, but the background scrolling too was just making me dizzy. Voice acting here would have done a lot for the game.

What else can I say, really, Cory in The House leaves a lot to be desired as far as the production goes. The graphics don't stand out, the mini-games are forgettable, the controls are clunky and the music is better suited to be turned off. I wouldn't recommend this game, not even to fans of the TV show.

Special thanks to Kate Pagliara and Disney Interactive for providing a copy of this title.