Newer super hero cartoons usually leave me feeling bland to be honest. They generally pass them off as too kid friendly and not enough to satisfy me as an adult. Not to mention that they often use anime style drawn characters almost too much that the cartoons become borderline ugly and generic to look at. Thankfully in recent years there have been a few exceptions, one being Teen Titans. Its familiar cast of Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven & Cyborg are fun to watch as they appeal to both kid… with its anime style and to adults with some darker story lines and great action. Thankfully, they have now released a video game for the Playstation 2 to match and there are pretty good results to follow.
Since the show was drawn in the anime style, I expected the video game to follow suit. Which it did here and there and for the most part was a very good representation. The characters are easily defined even when there are many enemies on the screen at once. The cut scenes are pretty to look at as well as they almost look like were ripped out of the show itself. However, in both the game and the cut scenes, it does leave you feeling a bit grainy. The character you choose to play is also what I consider pretty small despite the good definition of him or her. The good thing is that all of the characters look just like they do on the tv show, even to the little details like Beast Boy’s transformations and such.
Sound is presented in normal stereo format which is a little disappointing. However, it is serviceable and if you are a fan of the series, the intro music is there for you to enjoy again and again. The usual arrays of sounds are clean and make it fun to play through. However, if you are a fan of the series, the best thing is the frequent dialogue that helps to keep the feel of being right in the middle of an episode of Teen Titans. The jabs that go back and forth between characters as well as the constantly moving plotline makes it really easy to keep playing. My only complaint is that the normal game volume doesn’t always seem loud enough and that the dialogue doesn’t sometimes have a rewind feature (sorry I enjoy the series a lot).
In Teen Titans, you play the roles of Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven, & Cyborg as you fight various Teen Titans villains in attempt to figure out why you feel like you are stuck in the middle of a video game (haha). The best thing is you can constantly switch between characters, making the experience almost never dull. Their attacks while varied, tend to operate the same. You have your standard attacks, some charge attacks, and then a whole bunch of combo attacks that increase as the game goes on. Charge attacks can only be preformed if you have charge power stored up naturally, but the means to get that is pretty plentiful throughout the game. This game also relies on a shared life bar which is tough to deal with on the surface but once you realize the difficulty of the game and how it is more geared towards children playing the game and not adults, a quiet necessity.
Control can be interesting. Whether you walk (Robin, Cyborg), fly (Starfire, Raven) or just a whole lot of interesting actions (Beast Boy), control is fairly easy to figure out. Your character goes where they were supposed to go, however in some stages (like inside the giant hat when you fight Mumbo), it gets frustrating (though maybe that is the point). Another problem results from switching characters in mid stage which is easy to do but can sometimes leave you in the middle of a sticky situation leading to quick death by some enemies. Say, you are playing as Robin and want to switch to Beast Boy, problem is you might have to cycle through Cyborg and Starfire to get there, leaving you open to some hits.
Since this game is geared more frequently towards children, it does have a tendency to be easy. Getting through the first few stages is zero problem until you get to Mumbo (IMHO). There it does get harder, but never leaves you with the feeling of hopelessness. Not that it should, but perhaps a little more variety with the enemies patterns or what not would make it for a challenging and rewarding experience. However, the thing I do like is that in the beginning it does give you examples of what you are supposed to do. In addition, in between levels they introduce you to the new combo attacks so you know exactly what buttons to mash, not leaving you to guess. I also wish this game played more like the X-Men Legends series with the RPG feel, however the raw action is well paced.
It used to be in games such as this, you got the story arc and that’s it. However, this game plays to the many fans of the tv series by giving you more options to explore. As mentioned previously, you can switch between characters possibly giving you a new challenge if you decide to play through the main game again. In addition, as you play through the game, based on your grade and how you progress; you gain new characters to play with in the Master of Games menu option. This option is basically a mini arena game where you play with heroes and various villains from tv series. There are a lot of characters to collect and this adds to the multiplayer option where you can square off against a friend. Also by collecting the various Larry the Titan icons throughout the game you are treated to clips and art from the series and making of the game. .
Teen Titans is really a great show, I enjoy it and if you follow Cartoon Network; it unfortunately looks like the series is approaching an end. However, 5 seasons and 60+ episodes is nothing to sneeze at. The minds at Artificial Mind and Movement have given us a great game at a great price for us to appreciate it long after the series goes off the air. The controls can sometimes be sketchy and the difficulty lacking; however all in all it makes for a very pleasurable and varied experience. I would recommend this to any fan of the tv series or comic book as a must buy. However, if you are not familiar with the comic book or tv series, I can understand the apprehension. But if you take the plunge, you will be rewarded with a good game and might even get you interested in buying the season sets on DVD (Season 1 already available, Season 2 in September 06).