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102 Dalmations:Puppies to the Rescue

Score: 100%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Activision and Disney score a hit with 102 Dalmations: Puppies to the Rescue for Game Boy Color. Everything you liked about the movie is present in this kiddie Platformer, including fun visuals and sound. The music comes right out of the movie, and is reproduced in good form for GBC. I wished that each of the different levels or stages could have looked more unique, but it's possible that more work went into character design. Both the puppies and the baddies look great. Domino and Oddball can be chosen for play, and of course you face off against Cruella and her henchman. The other baddies in Cruella's Toy Factory are animated and fun to watch, and the little touches are especially nice. When the puppies jump off a ledge or high place, their little tails wag. I love that... :) In the beginning and end of the game, short cut-scenes play, and look really nice. Kids who liked the movie will totally love the way this game looks.


Thankfully, 102 Dalmations plays as good as it looks. Nobody could say the license cheapened the game, since I can see 102 Dalmations being fun to play even without the puppies. For a brief synopsis, Domino and Oddball have been captured and stuck in Cruella's Toy Factory with every other Dalmation puppy in England. But, a lucky escape means Domino and Oddball are free to turn the other puppies loose. Standing between them and success are tons of nasty traps and legions of robot dogs, evil toys and contraptions.

After choosing one of the two puppies, gameplay involves completing levels by getting puppies out of their cages. Sound simple? It would be, except each level has a hidden key which is usually well guarded. Finding cages isn't enough, and getting the key doesn't mean all the cages are easy to locate. In the beginning, levels have only a handful of cages and the key in a fairly obvious place. By the end of 102 Dalmations, you'll have to really work for both the key and the cages. Platforming is the name of the game, and although early stages have only a few jumps to manage, eventually you'll be hitting switches to turn on floating platforms that lead to bouncing platforms that lead to the key. Somehow, the pacing is done so well that everything is introduced logically and in a way that sets up a gradual progression of devices and enemies. Running into enemies drains a puppies power, and eventually puts you back in the cage to try and escape again. To counter enemies, you have a tough bark and the ability to jump out of harm's way. Also, each level has a number of bone power-ups that can regenerate your power.

A few of the many levels require more puzzle solving skills and move away from the platforming, and there are boss levels for Cruella and her henchmen. Also, completing 102 Dalmations earns you passwords to two mini-games. One is a little strange, and has you use red, blue and green sliders to mix color and match a colored paw-print. The second mini-game is more fun, and works like a memory game where you turn cards over and try to match and remove pairs.


The best thing I can say is that 102 Dalmations the game is balanced enough to be perfect for the target movie audience. So, it won't feel like Tomb Raider or Oddworld, but that's not a bad thing to a younger level of gamer. The more hardcore gamers in the kiddie krew will burn through this game pretty fast, but they'll have a blast doing it. Less experienced Platform gamers may find more than enough challenge. Higher levels take some thinking, quick reflexes and luck, but nobody can blame the game.

Game Mechanics:

Most of 102 Dalmations is jumping and barking. Running takes up plenty of time, and gathering objects or freeing puppies is super easy. (A) and (B) buttons do the jump/bark part, and the D-Pad is for moving around. Any time one of the puppies needs to throw a switch or use an item, a bark is used. Good idea, but execution was a little strange, especially for switches. I found that sometimes I'd be on top of a switch and not able to move it, but trying a few times always worked. Jumping is responsive, and some of the springboard platforms involve timing button presses to reach higher places. Enemies other than bosses never completely go away, and are just stunned. Sometimes, this makes navigating one area tricky, but there's no time limit for completing levels to enforce getting by an enemy on the first pass. Once you get the key, all you need to do is run by a puppy's cage to set it free.

Although the game is simple, 102 Dalmations pleases on several levels. Being a licensed game for a successful (and well marketed) children's movie automatically raises expectations, but Activision does Disney proud. Platforming can be a really tough genre to make child-safe, since the results are usually too hard or too easy. 102 Dalmations may have struck a perfect balance in being a fun way for kids to stay connected to everything they liked about the movie but not get stuck with a shoddy, poorly done game. This and a Game Boy Color will make any little Dalmation fan happy. Now if they only made a spotted GBC... :)

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Windows Xiama GameBoy Color/Pocket Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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