Reviewed: January 7, 2003
Reviewed by: Mark Smith
Released: September 24, 2002
Nickelodeon has grown into one of the hottest channels on cable TV, captivating adults with a large and varied selection of classic shows dating back to the 60ís and 70ís and appealing to kids with a huge library of original programming that has since evolved into feature films and now video games.
THQ was hot to pick up on the licensing of several of Nickís most popular franchises and the resulting games have been a mishmash of hits and misses spanning multiple genres. I confess that before I started reviewing this first wave of Nick games I had never watched any of these animated shows. I resolved myself to watching all of the shows that spawned these new games marketed toward a specific generation of kids.
I have to admit that Rocket Power Beach Bandits is a pretty cool show and an even cooler game that manages to blend platform action, adventure, and even some extreme sports. While itís not as intense as the latest Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra installment, these sporting events are quite fun and great for the younger crowd.
Beach Bandits follows the gang from the show. Playing as Otto, Reggie, Twister, or Sam, you get to use your extreme sports skills to battle the evil robot minions of Golem Industries. This corporation has stolen all the sand from your favorite beach, which is going to put a serious damper on your summertime activities.
Beach Bandits is targeted to the youngsters and offers a fairly easy gameplay experience. The adventure is linear and involves a lot of exploration of the various levels for clues and answers to the mystery behind the missing sand. There are plenty of mini-games, most of the extreme sports variety, that are essential in obtaining all the information you need to unravel the surprisingly interesting story.
There are over 50 challenging levels that include exploration and extreme sports action sequences. You get to roller blade, and ride a skateboard, and there are zip-lines and Jet Skiís. Wield a hockey stick to smack down those pesky robots and take part in a variety of mini-games like a shooting gallery. While a lot of the game is exploratory, you are always shown where to go next with the convenient arrow that keeps you on track and headed for the next story-related waypoint.
Control is simple and intuitive and even the youngest of kids will pick right up on the mechanics of this game. Moving around and doing the various sporting events is quite easy. Thereís no complicated trick system to learn making this perfect for the younger crowd, but probably way to easy for the experience gamer.
The graphics are excellent, exceeding those of the animated series and moving into the high-tech world of 3D computer art. The levels arenít overly complex and theyíre not terribly interactive, but they do offer excellent textures and some bright and cheery colors. It might take a bit of getting used to seeing your favorite 2D characters modeled in glorious 3D polygons.
The animation is fluid and all of the characters move and do their ďthingĒ with incredible detail from the simplest walk to all of the extreme sports moves you expect from the more advanced sports games. There are excellent special effects such as particles, reflective surfaces, and some amazing water effects complete with wave generation and white foamy spray from your Jet Ski.
The framerate is fast and fluid at all times, even during two-player split-screen modes. You also get to choose whether t split the screen vertically or horizontally. This might sound trivial, but youíd be surprised how many games donít offer this and how important it can become. One split may work for one mini-game while a different view is better for another. Overall, the visual presentation is outstanding and surpasses the look of the show with some excellent 3D visuals.
Fans of the show will definitely enjoy the solid voice work that brings all of your favorite characters from the TV to your PS2. Sound effects are equally as impressive and even the musical score suits the style and action of the gameplay. While none of the audio presentation pushes the PS2 envelope, it all suits the material the game is based on.
Kids are definitely going to get more value out of this game than the experience gamers. Older kids and adults will whip through this title in about 10 hours while younger kids will easily get more than twice that. The linear nature of the title eliminates any replay potential but the mini-games may offer some additional competition in trying to beat previous high scores.
There are two unlockable multi-player games within the four mini-games and the split-screen works extremely well in this game, making it one of the better multiplayer titles Iíve played on the PS2 in recent months.
Rocket Power Beach Bandits is a polished game with a great design, excellent controls, and a gameplay model that is accessible to even the youngest of gamers. Everything is bright, colorful, cheery, and even the sinister plot is given an amusing spin to keep it light for the kids.
If you love the show then you will love the game, and if youíve never seen the show you might want to check it out. The designers have included two complete episodes on the PS2 DVD to get you started and you might find yourself scanning the Nick line-up for the next show time. Meanwhile, the kids from Ocean Shores can use your help in this charming adventure for the entire family.