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The Proud Family

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Buena Vista
Developer: Buena Vista
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Proud Family is based on the Disney cartoon of the same name, and looks accordingly colorful and animated. It kind of reminds me of a scaled down Willy Beamish, the overly animated Sierra game. All the characters and backgrounds are hand-drawn and look almost exactly as they do in the TV show. For a kidís game, the presentation is pretty spot on; a simple 2D world with some background depth accompanied by your character and a sidewalk where all the action takes place. The only complaint I have is that on occasion, some objects can get a bit grainy. Other than that, there isnít much to write home about here.

The sound and music, from what I have heard (and considering there is no spoken dialogue in the game), are pretty spot on with the show. The effects are mild and varied enough to keep from rubbing oneís nerves, and the music is very up-beat. All in all, a good audio presentation.


Gameplay:

The plot in The Proud Family centers on Penny Proud as she attempts to earn enough cash to buy her parents a T.H.A.N.G. (Total Home Automation Necessity Gizmo) for their anniversary. As you bring Penny around her neighborhood in search of various avenues of income, you will invariably meet her friends, members of her family, and other inhabitants of the area.

All dialogue (which is actually rather comical, at least to this 23 year old) is handled through on screen boxes. The first problem I ran into was the lack of direction you get from this dialogue. Though it does serve to further expose the plot, it does little in the way of helping you complete your tasks at hand. You have little to no direction after you discover what your next challenge is, and this becomes even worse if you save the game and come back later to play it with an even worse memory of where you left off.

Once you get going in the game, you will come to realize that the single greatest way to make money is to pick up trash off the street and dump it into a recycling bin. Maybe I am underestimating the teaching method that this game is trying to employ. Perhaps that by showing kids how mind-numbingly boring it is to constantly pick up trash, they are trying to teach them not to litter, or that public service isnít one of the more pleasant experiences in life. Either way, this part of the game runs out of steam fast, and by the time you pick up your níth Coke can or crumpled piece of paper, youíre ready to pull your hair out.

There are, however, other ways to make money, though they suffer from the same lack of direction that the overall game does. As you progress through the game, you expose mini-games that can be played for money or for leisure. While they are not that great in and of themselves, they do serve as a reprieve to the monotony of picking up litter, though I doubt anyone will be playing them in their spare time after theyíve had their fill of the game.


Difficulty:

As it is a kidís game, The Proud Family was very easy for me. It is more of an extension of the show geared towards those who are already fans of it rather than a standalone title. There are some challenges in finding hidden trash, and though the mini-games are mostly a guessing matter, they can still be taxing at times. But for the most part, it should be relatively easy for a younger audience to get the hang of.

Game Mechanics:

The long and the short of it is that you walk Penny around the 2D world, jump on a couple of things, than pick stuff up with the press of a button. The controls, for the most part, are extremely simple. Even the mini-games can be operated with only a couple of buttons, a scheme the GBA is quite good at accommodating.

The controls donít have any drawbacks, but the way you are exposed to them could use some better polish. In the beginning, The Proud Family shows you some useful button controls, even though they are used much later in the game. Other times, when you are exposed to a new challenge, you arenít given any clue as to how to perform it (control-wise) and are more often than not forced to refer to the instruction book.

For what itís worth, I think that this game captures the essence of the show, and that those kids who like the show will probably end up liking the game. It certainly does have its flaws though, which means that anybody with a short attention span (or short temper for that matter) may want to search elsewhere for their interactive enjoyment.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Microsoft Xbox America\'s Army: Rise of a Soldier Sony PlayStation Portable Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0

 
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