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Finding Nemo

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

For all the animus I might have had in the past about Disney turning good movies into bad games, I'm always about playing good Disney stuff. I just like to help you avoid the clunkers. Finding Nemo is no clunker. It's not even a bottom-feeder, like many of the past games we've seen. Could it have something to do with the great development talent of Vicarious Visions? I certainly suspect so, but the fact remains that there are incredible pressures to get something... anything, on a shelf after the movie comes out for kids and adults who buy things for kids. It's no surprise game companies succumb to the pressure and peddle poop.

The best thing, and what you'll see from the time you power-on your Game Boy to the very end of Finding Nemo, is visual style and panache. That's right, panache. If Disney's Dinosaur was like a smelly, dead fish you find after it's been baking in the sun on the beach for days (which it was), then Finding Nemo is like Trout Almondine or the flakiest fried flounder served with a side of new potatoes and some rice pilaf. Yes, that good... The visuals, unlike some of the first generation GBA games we've seen, are always to the benefit of the gameplay. Nothing feels arbitrary or crowded. Bright color, great detail and every bit of the flair the movie displayed.


In most ways, Finding Nemo is a typical side-scrolling adventure/action game, but it represents the genre well. The levels are never confusing, although the youngest gamers may find them a little long. Basically, over the course of 12 levels, you play as Marlin or Nemo to conquer challenges and complete objectives. Solving puzzles and having good timing will get gamers through without any frustration, and like any good license game, Finding Nemo gives you a chance to hang out with colorful characters from the movie like Dory and Crush. Finding Nemo downplays violence, for parents who might be concerned, and focuses instead on avoiding fish or things in a level that might drain your energy. If you do end up brushing against a jellyfish or some other hazard, spending a little time in a soothing anemone will make the ouch go away.

After completing levels, Dory invites you to play a memory game if you have collected enough items. By flipping pairs of cards to uncover pictures that you match to remove them from the board, you can unlock a picture that is saved for viewing in a Gallery section. As far as unlockables go, that really sums it up. Password save is tedious, but that's also all you get. Did someone do a focus group at some point and determine kids like writing a million passwords down? Ugh, I say.


A nice training section presented right up front as Nemo's first day at schools gives you command of the simple controls. During each level, a small hint might be dropped to help you progress quickly, or you can talk to some characters for tips. Help points come often enough that nobody should be stumped, and the slant of gameplay toward avoiding combat gives more timid or less coordinated gamers an edge.

Game Mechanics:

Controls are introduced early, and are kept simple. Shoulder buttons aren't used at all, and apart from the (A) button being used to swim more quickly or 'dart,' all the action is on the (B) button. Using a feature that allows Nemo to pick up items and use them in puzzles is a nice twist, and helps take the game beyond super simple side-scrolling territory that usually seems to just be a lot of running, jumping and hitting. The diversity in the game is great, so you get a chance in each level to really do something different. Simple controls used in different ways throughout the game help a gamer forget about which button to push and just enjoy the action. It's a shame about the password save feature, but I guess we can't have everything. Also, replay value is slim and more experienced gamers will blow right through, but the game while it lasts is still plenty cool.

I'm always happy to recommend any game, but especially when it may have a troubled lineage. Certainly, the Disney stamp had almost completely lost integrity for me a few times, but I have to say that even if you don't pick up any other peripheral stuff from the Finding Nemo movie - like that would happen - you should really get this game. If you're a kid, you'll have good fun and if you're a parent, your kid will be thrilled. The movie earned some kudos and the game deserves to wear the license with pride. Jump in and swim!

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Nintendo GameBoy Advance Driver 2 Advance Nintendo GameBoy Advance Fortress

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated