IGN Review of Zoey 101: Field Trip Fiasco
Jamie Lynn Spears is hot. Okay, so she's 16, but still. It's like looking into the past of Britney Spears, back before she got all crazy and fat. Jamie seems pretty different from her sister. She's not insane, and actually has a career, in the form of a hit TV show that's now a game developed by Barking Lizards. Zoey 101: Field Trip Fiasco is monumental in the sense that is gives the two sisters one major thing in common; they both have really crappy games.
Zoey 101 is a game based on the hit Nickelodeon sitcom about girls invading an all-boys prep school. Sounds hot, right? The show features plenty of making out, and once they even had a scene with an inflatable bra. Let's just say that Nickelodeon has grown up a little. As a game, Zoey 101 is a little more juvenile. The plot focuses around Zoey Brooks and her friends wanting to film a documentary at the local national park. They have to convince teachers to let them ditch class, raise money and research the park to convince the dean that they are serious. If that doesn't sound like thrilling gameplay, it's probably because it isn't thrilling.
It's hard to describe just how stupid the plot of this game is. After all, if they decided to go to the park on the weekend, the kids wouldn't have to do any of the ridiculous activities that make up most of the game. Plus, it doesn't seem that they even know what a documentary is. Nobody really seems to know anything about this project that they're all so hyped about. And all of this becomes apparent in the first 30 seconds of the game.
After the initial exposition, the game becomes a seemingly never ending series of fetch quests. Zoey runs around Pacific Coast Academy, doing everyone's bidding. The quests usually involve delivering things to people, or collecting objects scattered around the school. They're timed so there's no time to mess around. Unfortunately, even when the player is working hard, it's sometimes impossible to complete a quest on the first try. The school is huge, with a variety of different, but uninspired locations. It doesn't resemble the school from the show much at all. Everyone is spread out around campus, just loitering. There is no way to find out where Zoey's friends are unless the player happened to see them already. There's a map that can be pulled up, but it's useless after the first couple minutes since it doesn't tell you where anybody is. So players are forced to run around and hope they can find that one kid.
The problem with running around is that the controls are so clunky that it's nearly impossible to maneuver through rooms without bumping into every piece of furniture. The D-Pad is pretty much worthless since it limits Zoey's directions. The touch screen allows for a bit smoother control, but is still awkward. Zoey has two speeds, walk and run, but since no quest can be completed by walking, it seems silly that it's even an option.
Another obstacle to completing the quests is that every damn kid looks the same. The character models are so bland that it's hard to tell any of the male characters apart. Plus there are random extra students wandering the halls too, and they look like the main characters! There definitely needed to be more distinguishing traits between, say, Michael, and the random black AV student so that Zoey wouldn't waste her time talking to nerds.
The developers tried to break up the fetch quests with minigames, and they're the highlight of the game, only because it's finally something different. It's not that they're very good, but at least the controls work okay. Scribbling on the touch screen to hose off cars is a lot better than picking up Frisbees. Unfortunately, the minigames last about two minutes, while the fetch quests can be up to five minutes each.
A lot of the stupid things Zoey is forced to do have to do with her researching the national park. She talks to the camping club on campus about Native Americans, and goes to the library to learn about the park. It's sounding a lot like Zoey 101 is an educational game. Perhaps the developers realized that nobody hates edutainment more than kids in compulsory education. Or maybe they got too lazy to actually put facts in the game because as soon as it gets to a part where there should be information, it just skips over it. Zoey sits down to read her book and "Some time later" appears on the screen. Look, the game is already boring like an educational game, it wouldn't have hurt to throw in some little tidbits of info. The whole presentation about Native Americans is "Hey, did you know they made fire with sticks?" Apparently the developers know less about native tribes than the average 12-year-old. The only time the player has to learn anything is to take a quiz about a national park that doesn't even exist!
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