Helvetica Black is a girl named after a typeface. Loogie Short is worse off, as his name literally means spit. And Nose Noseworthy would probably be worried about what his parents put down on his birth certificate too, if he weren't too busy trying to kill the giant booger monster taking over his house.
Shorts is a new Majesco-published platformer for Nintendo's DS, inspired by the recent film. And it stars a cast of misfit kids, each with a name more unfortunate than the last -- and each one having to deal with some kind of magical catastrophe befalling their previously boring neighborhood.
The story of Shorts is that a mystical wishing rock fell into this quaint little suburb one day, and the kids that found it began to conjure up all sorts of interesting creatures and superpowers for themselves -- but everything they wished for ended up turning on them.
And then their parents got ahold of the rock, and things got even worse from there.
Shorts follows along with the short film concept of the theatrical feature and breaks down its narrative into smaller, distinct parts. The first, corresponding with roughly the first third of the game, is Nose Noseworthy's quest to clean out his house after it's been overrun by an invading force of sentient boogers. The second finds Loogie Short adventuring through the medieval-inspired castle that's magically appeared in his backyard. And the final, tie-it-all-together chapter features Helvetica Black and Toe Thompson teaming up to try to bring everything back to normal again.
The gameplay is standard platformer fare, with 2D left-to-right and up-to-down level progression, rendered with 3D models. The look works well enough, but the framerate's a little iffy -- the scenery always seems to stutter when you move around, and that can be a bit jarring to have to look at as you constantly run, jump and crawl your way through the different stages.
Each stage offers some fairly basic puzzle-solving and enemy-bopping, as you'll step on switches to raise up previously lowered gates, grab keys to open unlocked doors, jump on baddies' heads to beat them and collect a whole bunch of floating energy orbs. Get 100 or more of those and your current kid's wishing rock power activates -- Nose gains access to a shrink ray to cut his foes down to size, Loogie blasts the screen to kill all enemies on it at once. And so on and so forth.
It's just the kind of stuff you'd expect to find in a film-licensed design, and with only a few little extras thrown in through the course of the 26 available levels. The fanciest feature is probably the fact that each kid has a unique movement ability -- Nose can make plants grow, creating ladders to reach high platforms. Loogie can call upon a pterodactyl at any time, which picks him up and carries him across gaps. And Helvetica and Toe, though you're given the option to play as either one in the game's last chapter, are functionally equivalent -- they both have a hover-jump command that helps them clear longer horizontal gaps than the other kids can.
There's a bit of direct-drawing on the touch screen to top it all off, as certain points give you the chance to create your own platforms with the stylus or block enemy attacks by drawing lines as shields -- but that's nothing new. Games like Kirby Canvas Curse
have done that kind of thing on DS for years now.
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