Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-10-02 Nintendo DS Action/Platform E (Everyone) The Game Factory / Two Tribes

Note: This review was based on an early import version of the game, entitled Garfield 2 in Europe.

I've always enjoyed Garfield as a tv cartoon. When the first live-action movie came out, I was so disappointed at the way this loveable cat was portrayed, he just didn't have its usual charm. Needless to say, I didn't really care about the release of the second movie.

However, when I read about the game being released on the Nintendo DS, I had to check it out. Usually cartoon characters tend to "translate" well into videogames. Since I didn't watch the movie, I won't be comparing the game to it, so what we are left with is a review of how well the game does on a Nintendo DS.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is a 2D platformer with 3D graphics. If it sounds confusing, think of it this way: it plays as a side-scrolling platformer that at times changes direction so you can see that your environment is rendered in full 3D.

Our story starts as Garfield flies to London hiding in Jon's luggage. Our loveable feline receives an invitation for a fancy lasagna dinner at Carlyle Castle. The adventure goes on as Garfield leaves the hotel and tries to find a way to get into the castle. However, there is more to the story, since as Garfield arrives, he finds out he is identical to the missing Prince, who has been kidnapped by the evil Lord Dargis.

The gameplay is composed of platform action, environmental puzzles and mazes. The controls are very simple, using the D-pad for moving and the A button to jump. Jumping takes a bit getting used to since you can either hop or jump a great height, but once you get it right you should feel comfortable with the controls.

You begin each level with 9 lives (you may lose them if you fall from great heights or get ran over, for example). If you lose all nine you have to restart the level, and the game has no checkpoint system, which may make it frustrating for younger gamers.

You need to navigate Garfield avoiding falling or getting hurt, picking the best way to reach your goal and collecting several of his favorite foods along the way. On the bottom screen you see Garfield and his surroundings, while the top screen serves as a statistics screen, showing how much food is left to collect and a clue as to the exit may be.

The stylus is used at certain key points to change directions, and you will recognize these spots as a paw that appears on screen when multiple paths are available. It's not really an instictive process, since you have been using the buttons and D-pad and all of a sudden you have to take the stylus out to tap the screen in the direction you want to follow.

There is little use of the microphone, but it's interesting to see how it was implemented. For example in the first-person stages where you see through Garfield's eyes, you're supposed to find an object to proceed you. You look around with the stylus and when you find something you meow at it by blowing on the microphone. That meow made my cats look around every single time to see where it was coming from. In other instances of the game, you can make Garfield growl and scare little creatures away.

The music is quite nice and varied, with the soundtrack adapting to the different stages and scenes. Unfortunately, the sound effects were barely there.

Graphically, the game isn't too shabby. It makes good use of color and textures, and has a fairly good level of detail. The level design is well conceived, and although at first it may seem very simplistic, the quality raises as you progress further into the game's 18 levels. It does seem to play a bit slow though.

Although there isn't really any replay value aside from the timed mode (unlockables such as artwork or mini-games would have helped), Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is still an amusing platformer that requires you to constantly be on your toes.

Special thanks to Damien Sarrazin and The Game Factory for providing a copy of this title.