Inside Pulse 12

Garfield Gets Real (Nintendo DS)

Garfield Gets Real
Genre: Action
Developer: Paws
Publisher: Zoo Digital
Release Date: 07/21/2009


Have I not suffered enough? In the last two weeks, I have lost my job, been forced to savage one of my favorite franchises, and then I was sent this. I had, naively, thought that Alex Lucard’s attacks on my enjoyment of video games were finally over. After all, I was given the chance to review the great PS3 game Shatter and I had requested King of Fighters XII, unaware of the ineptitude that marred it. That was then, this is now, and I hold Garfield Gets Real in my hot little hands. Could this be the game that finally makes me quit reviewing video games and go back to playing peg games? I guess that depends on if I can define this as a “game”.

Upon loading up Garfield Gets Real, the Zoo and Paws logos fill the twin screens, which doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism. The menu screen shows me exactly what it is I have been fearing about this square inch of terror: a shot of the CG Garfield and Odie. There are character designs that can be executed well in 3-D, and there are character designs that cannot. I remember the difficulties that Clayburn Moore had executing Beavis and Butthead in action figure form, and this is also true of Garfield, as he looks globby and waxen when shown in 3-D.

There is music and voice in the game, but to what end I do not know. The music is bland and uninteresting and does nothing to encourage me to turn the volume up. It is filler, at best. The voices are clear and all, but they make the inept writing very obvious. I will have nightmares about the pathos in the way that Garfield says “Feed Me.” It is at once a command and a plea, a cry for help laced with narcissism. The voice of Jon sounds off, like the voice actor was trying to make the sad, pathetic Mr. Arbuckle sound even more like a schizophrenic failure than previously thought. There is an air of sadness and desperation to all of the voice work. I thought, between the waxy Garfield and the uninspired audio, this might be the end of my pain.

When I started playing, I knew my pain had merely started. Oh Garfield, I know you love lasagna and hate polka, I know Odie is dumb and Jon is an inept loser, tortured by his Midwestern upbringing and his weird family. This is the formula that Garfield has coasted on since 1978. This might not be the avenue for me to express my distaste for the entirety of Jim Davis’ oeuvre, but I find the strips and cartoons to be largely mirthless and kind of soul crushing. They are like Camus’ “The Stranger” in the sense that they use repetition of banality to create surrealism, only in a bad way.

That being said, all would be forgiven if the developers had tacked the odious orange puss into a playable game.

They did not.

The so-called gameplay of this so-called game revolves around scooting the titular tub o’ catlard on a two dimensional plane, alternately dodging and collecting items being hurled towards him by flicking the stylus across the touch screen. No matter which stage, this is the basic game play. Garfield sidles and slides and performs soccer goalie dives to catch books and eggs and whatever other detritus is thrown in his direction while using the same moves to evade hostile items. Seriously, aside from a dancing mini-game that is as mercifully short as it is agonizing to play, and the still picture taken during the stage, this is all there is to do.

Far be it from me to tell video game designers how to do their jobs, but this game demands an intervention. A side scrolling platformer would have been nice, since they are so rare these days. A puzzle-platformer, like Krusty’s Fun House would have warranted a by-God parade. Anything, really, except this tepid mess that barely even qualifies as a game. There is nothing to do here that is even moderately entertaining, much less fun. It is sheer drudgery to endure. The Nintendo DS is a system capable of so much more, and here that potential is wasted on a game so bad that it is less fun than most browser based games. I’ve played things programmed in BASIC that were more sophisticated. I can appreciate that the crew were most likely limited by budget, and time, and the license, but there is no reason to ship something this toxic and this anti-fun.

A final question enters my pulsing brain. Who does this even appeal to? Do children even care who Garfield is? For sure, he was popular during my childhood, and books of his strips were a heavily traded commodity on the elementary black market. Now, though, who cares? Do aging members of Gen Y give the slightest thought to the Cheeto colored tabby? I, for one, do not think of Garfield any more than I consider Heathcliff or the Gummi Bears. I cannot, for the life of me, fathom that supposed jokes about polka music and laziness appealing to modern children, what with the Bakugan and the Twitter and such to occupy them.

The Scores
Story: Dreadful
Graphics: Dreadful
Sound: Awful
Control and Gameplay: Worthless
Replayability: Awful
Balance: Very Bad
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Awful
Appeal Factor: Dreadful
Miscellaneous: Awful

FINAL SCORE: AWFUL GAME!

Short Attention Span Summary
Sometimes in life you encounter the very best of something. A piece of perfectly cooked carnitas, a song performed so sublimely it sticks with you for the rest of your days, a sunset that makes all other sunsets look like cheap imitations. Then there are the times you get a green potato chip, your favorite baseball team gets blown out at home, you lose your job and you hate yourself too much to bear going on.

This game is worse than all of that.

If I were playing this game with one hand and holding an implement with which to blind myself in the other, there is a significant chance I would do so to save myself from the pain that is Garfield Gets Real. Take that as you may.