IGN Review of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
With a show as wacky as Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, picking a genre of games is a difficult decision. Like the show's characters, Collision has decided that an eclectic mix of gameplay elements would work best. Unfortunately, the mix doesn't quite work, and that, along with a few other things, makes Foster's fall flat.
The plot starts off much like the first episode of the television series. Mac is a young boy whose best friend in the world is his imaginary one. The show is based on the idea that imaginary friends are creatures that kids imagine up, but are actually very real. So there's a problem with stray imaginary friends. That's where Foster's Home for Imaginary friends comes in. Think of it as a animal rescue foundation, for imaginary friends. Mac brings Bloo, his imaginary friend, to Foster's when his mom tells him he has to give him up. By visiting Bloo every day, Mac can keep his best friend. The house is full of a variety of interesting creatures, and even a couple humans, and many of them make appearances in the game. The story is told through a few screens, with lots of text and dialogue. It gets somewhat confusing, since sometimes there's a whole conversation, with just one picture that doesn't seem to fit what's going on until the end. A couple more screens here and there could have really helped, and given the story a lot more charm. Also, the dialogue doesn't do the characters justice. Fosters is one of the smartest kids' shows on television, with some great characters. The characters in the game all have traces of their individual personalities, but they all fall a bit flat. The text boxes also don't have the handy feature of character faces next to the text. Since the conversations tend to move pretty fast, and often have three or more characters talking, it can get confusing.
Foster's has a very television feel to it, especially since the gameplay is broken up into different episodes, sometimes lifting plots directly from the show itself. Each episode has a different gameplay element to it. Fetch quests, stealth missions, action levels, and bosses split the game time. The varied elements are nice, but they're in the game at the expense of gameplay depth. Some of the more fun elements, like getting to throw paper ball at enemies, is limited to just a couple episode. A certain gameplay element is the focus for each episode, so by the time the episode is done, I was sick of that type. The levels seem to drag on, becoming just slightly too long and losing their fun factor. If more elements were thrown into the mix, each episode might feel more engaging.
As a show, Foster's relies on the strength of its characters, and thankfully nearly all the major ones make an appearance. The major contenders -- Wilt, Eduardo, and Coco -- will help players out in certain areas. The character sprites all look great. They really capture the look of the show. There isn't a lot of animation with them though, especially during dialogue. The characters just stand there lifelessly until you need them to do something. Some simple animations would have worked wonders here, and kept it from looking like a bunch of Foster's mannequins were scattered across the house.
The house is a humongous one, so there is a lot to explore. Dozens of doors lead players to all sorts of rooms. During the missions, only certain doors will be open, limiting players to the few rooms they need to complete that mission. This also stretches out how fast players can collect tickets in the game. All around Foster's home are red Game Hive tickets (think Chuck E Cheese). The tickets unlock minigames at the Game Hive. The minigames are somewhat fun, and are a nice little addition for when players need a break from the platforming. They're nothing too spectacular though, so players probably won't want to keep playing them over and over.
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