The Secret Saturdays stars 11-year-old Zak Saturday and his super scientist parents Solomon “Doc” Saturday and Drew Saturday. The three of them together study supernatural animals called Cryptids – which are kind of like Pokemon only less cute. The PlayStation 2 game puts players in the shoes of the Saturdays at different points throughout the game, but for the most part, you’ll be taking on baddies and scanning Cryptids with Zak and his Claw.
The game begins with the Saturdays’ headquarters being attacked by rival scientist Leonidas Van Rook on behalf of his employer, V.V. Argost. The nefarious fiends are onto something about an ancient (and totally made-up) Aztec legend about the sun and Cryptids, etc. Anyway, Van Rook steals something and the Saturdays first have to chase him and then race him across various jungle, icy and fiery locales all over the world finding Cryptids.
Sadly, Secret Saturdays doesn’t do as well on the PS2 as it does on other platforms. The biggest issue is that the levels are set up as 2D platforming puzzles mixed with combat, but the camera insists on panning around in ways that make the levels appear almost 3D. This is disorienting – especially since the camera will swing to a new section of the level as soon as you’re near it; even if you’re in the middle of a jump to a new platform. The second big ticket problem is the part where the characters are slow to respond to button presses and analog stick commands. So instead of jumping around with Zak, gliding smoothly between platforms via the Claw, it’s like you’re trying to jerk a puppet around with bloody stumps where you fingers used to be.
Lastly, and perhaps most tragically, the PlayStation 2 comes with full voiceover work for all the characters. You might think this would be a good thing – but Zak repeats his exclamations over new Cryptids so often, you find yourself wanting to choke him, and some of the subtitles appear as placeholder text. Party foul.
If you need your Secret Saturdays fix, you’re better off finding it with the show itself on Cartoon Network, or giving one of the other – more polished – videogame versions a go.
Nov 16, 2009