'Johnny Impossible' for the Nintendo 3DS.
'Johnny Impossible' for the Nintendo 3DS.
As the saying goes, the third time's the charm. Johnny Impossible is the third entry in publisher UFO Interactive's Johnny video game series. Well, a charm of a game it certainly is not; but neither is it completely impossible for gamers to find at least a slight bit of enjoyment from it.
UFO Interactive's Johnny character seems to have more tricks up his sleeve than Chevy Chase did in 'Fletch' (Google it if you're too young to know what the heck I'm talking about). He's been a kung-fu master, a wild-west cowboy, and now a super secret spy. In Johnny Impossible, he's tasked with infiltrating the base of the evil Dr. Wang to stop him from destroying Solid City via a deadly laser-equipped satellite. Equipped with night-vision goggles, a grappling hook, and a few other gadgets, can Johnny do it? Better yet, will the player even care after even an hour with this seemingly cheaply-made platformer?
A classic platformer, much of this game is spent getting from one platform to another whether it be by jumping or using one of Johnny's gadgets. These toys, however, aren't to be used all willy-nilly as they have usage timers associated with each. Each item can only be actively used until its meter runs out, which then refills over a short period of time. While this can be a minor inconvenience for items like his grappling hook, it can mean life-or-death if its something even more critical such as Johnny's night-vision goggles. While this adds a bit more of a challenge to a game that is sorely lacking in much of any, it's a challenge that verges on simple annoyance.
One bit of retro fun that players do actually get to enjoy occurs when Johnny's computer hacking skills are needed. When this happens, the 3DS's lower screen turns into a digital version of the old Tiger Electronics handheld video games (again, Google it if you're too young) that were all the rage in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Maybe it's because I'm 30 and grew up playing the old Tiger games, but there is a certain something about these sequences that simply make them fun.
Fitting along with its stealthy theming, Johnny is not given a heath meter of any kind. His goal is, after all, to avoid being seen. Instead, the developers made two equally as lethal ways for Johnny to lose. One is through each level's timer. The player only has a set amount of time to save Solid City from Dr. Wang's evil plan, giving the game a much-needed sense of urgency. While it just counts its merry way down to zero while Johnny finds his way around, players can accelerate him towards failure two seconds at a time by being hit by any of Wang's defenses or being noticed by any of the game's many security cameras. Furthermore, if detected, Johnny has but a few seconds to hide before what can only be described as a magic hand comes and takes him away (hopefully to a better game than this). Whether by the clock running out or the hand taking Johnny away, it's an almost thankful game over.
Both visually and audibly, Johnny Impossible fails to impress on almost every level. For the most part, graphics are clean yet plain and look akin to what one might expect in an online flash game. As a 3DS title, this game features 3D visual effects, but this platformer simply doesn't lend itself well to the technology and is better played in 2D instead. Johnny Impossible's genre-fitting soundtrack sounds equally as cheap and generic as the graphics look. True, this game would be categorized as a "value" title (3DS owners can download it from the eShop for about $6), but even low-priced games need standards.
Johnny Impossible gets credit for mixing things up by putting artificial limiters upon Johnny's gadgets (as annoying as it can get at time) and, for what it's worth, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the game on a technical level. Unfortunately, the game simply isn't very fun. Maybe it's a blessing that it is as short a game as it is, as it's in its overall brevity that players will find themselves completing Johnny's mission and saving Solid City from Dr. Wang's latest evil plot.
(MMPR supplied a copy of this game for review.)
Version tested: 3DS