IGN Review of Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Tipton Trouble
It's some sort of law that every Disney Channel show has to be made into a video game, even if that show is a situational comedy that doesn't have very much action or even a lot of conflict. It also seems to be a law that Artificial Mind and Movement has to make these games. And so it is with these facts that we find ourselves playing The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Tipton Trouble. Much like the show that it's based on, nobody above the age (or mental capacity) of a 10 year old is going to get much of a kick out of this game.
Zack and Cody are identical twins. And while they don't solve mysteries like the Olsen twins used to, or have regular chance encounters with famous hip hop stars like the Mowry sisters, these two ruffians still manage to get into a lot of trouble. They live at the Tipton hotel since their mom works there, and the brothers are constantly running amok and creating mischief. Zack and Cody also end up becoming gofers for the hotel staff, doing everything from retrieving a lost wallet, to getting rid of rats, to exorcising a haunted floor.
The Suite Life is a mix between action platformer and strategy. Players can only control one brother at a time, and have to use their unique abilities to get both through the levels. Cody comes equipped with a modified vacuum cleaner backpack that can shoot water balloons, pies, and bubble gum. With it Cody can also push or pull heavy objects, or float his brother over large gaps. Zack's abilities include jumping and
well just jumping. (Somebody needs to speak with their agent because they got the short end of that stick.)
A2M has reused their rail system from Kim Possible: Kimmunicator. It's a shame to have large 3D environments to explore, and then be limited to set paths. There are little exploration aspects in the game. The ability to switch between Zack and Cody is cool, but it's never challenging. Players just run in one direction with one character until they can't progress, then switch to the other brother and run in the same direction until they meet up again. This works for the first level, showing the players how to use each brother effectively, but the difficulty level never really increases much. We wonder if A2M forgot what it's like being a kid. Kids are smart, they can figure stuff out. Giving them a challenge would not have been difficult. The levels are easily beaten simply because there isn't much to figure out. Since players control two characters they essentially have to play the level twice, substituting challenge for tedium.
There is a bit of a challenge, but it's from awkward collision detection and unresponsive controls. Trying to hit some of the stronger enemies becomes a chore as they constantly attack. There's no way to dodge the enemy attacks either since Cody can't jump, and oftentimes he's backed up against a ledge that is too high for him to get onto. Zack's wall jumping ability only works most of the time. There are a few instances that require players to wall jump repeatedly to get to a new level, and it's frustrating to repeatedly fall down the entire shaft multiple times because Zack can't seem to bounce off the wall. All of Cody's moves are controlled by a touch screen panel, whereas Zack uses the B-button to perform his acrobatics. It becomes awkward to hold the stylus and switch back and forth between touch screen and button control.
The Suite Life features three boss battles, and all three play out in the same way. Cody uses his vacuum to shoot at the boss, (be it robot, ghost, or UFO) in a first person mode. After he whittles the boss's health down, Zack runs around in the rafters and presses a button. The reason it doesn't sound very exciting is because it isn't. The only challenge the boss battles offer is the fact that they don't give you enough time for Zack to get to the button, so sometimes it will take two tries.
There are two minigames offered in the game, and players can connect wirelessly to play against one another. They're also incorporated into the one player game. The first, a skateboarding game is a forced touch screen exercise. Players have to tap, hold, or drag various buttons on the touch screen to make Zach dodge and jump over obstacles. We found that just holding down the crouch button is enough to skate (pun intended!) through this task. The second is an almost interesting sail boat racing minigame. By blowing over and over into the microphone, Cody's boat breezes (intended also, sorry) through the water, dodging obstacles. We nearly passed out, huffing and puffing like idiots into our DSs. We can already see the lawsuits from angry parents after their kids get so lightheaded they faint while trying to race their sailboats.
The whole game feels like it's taking the player for granted. The music throughout the game is generic and repetitive. The sound effects, like dogs barking, rats squeaking, and pies splattering sometimes don't work, making the game feel lifeless. On top of all this, The Suite Life has some of the worst cut scenes every to disgrace a videogame. Ridiculous looking screenshots of the actors accompany text boxes that are trying to convey way more action than they are capable of. The lines are atrociously bad. We're talking laughably bad, but not in the good way that they seemed to be going for. Lines like "We're attacking the earth because we don't like anchovy pancakes!" is followed by "WHAT??? Those don't exist!" Perhaps the developers figured since the show is supposed to appeal to eight year olds, the game should be written by eight year olds.
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