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102 Dalmations: Puppies to the Rescue
Platform:  Gameboy
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Digital Eclipse
Publisher:  Disney Interactive/Activision
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  none
Another Disney Movie and another Disney game. That is what I thought when I looked at the back cover of this game and then was given it to review. Could the world be more repetitive? I think Disney by far outweighs the competition when it comes to marketing licensed video games. Well, not expecting much I began to play this little gem and found myself getting quite addicted. While not a superior game on any level, Puppies to the Rescue managed to hold my interest for a good long while due to its engrossing gameplay and well-made engine.

Well-made engine on a Gameboy game? Do these games even have engines? Well whatever you choose to call it this is a solid game. Before I get into all hat let me give you a little background. Our favorite Hollywood villain Glen I mean Cruella De Vil has stolen all of the Dalmatian puppies in England. Why you ask? Well, she figures that if there are no puppies then children will buy her dreadful toys and she can use the puppies to generate electricity for her toy-making factory. She was going to invent a line of collectable monsters that would bring about a huge frenzy of consumerism but that evil plot was already taken. Well like most villainous plans there is one small problem: two of the puppies she captured were skinny enough to fit through their prison bars and escape. Now Domino and Oddball, the little escapees have to be the heroes for the rest of the imprisoned canines.

You can choose to play as either puppy but the gameplay is pretty much the same. You have to run around on a level taking elevators and jumping up to ledges in order to find a key. Then, with the key you must find all of the captured dogs on the level and set them free. It may sound easy but without a map you could get hopelessly lost on a level and never find what you are looking for. This is where potential problems could quickly arise. If finding the cages was too easy then there would be no fun in it, but if finding the cages was too hard then navigating the levels would become repetitive and boring. Thankfully there is a happy medium.

While the early couple levels are pretty easy the game picks up in the challenge department quite quickly. There are a lot of elevators and different platforms that must be navigated correctly in order to get to the missing cages. One missed jump and you will end up at the bottom. One nice feature is that dying in the game is pretty rare and difficult. As a equalizer, it is impossible to kill any of the opponents. This makes sense when you think about it. What can a dog do? Pull out a gun and start shooting up the place? No, I don't think so. All you can do is bark and jump on stuff. This will break the robots and evil cars that attack you for a short while but they will repair themselves again and wait for your return.

The one aspect of the levels that I felt was the most thoughtful was the non-linear design of each room. You do not go from point A to point B like you would in most platform games. You rather go from Point A to your choice of Point B, C, or D. However only one point will lead to the key. Along the way you must remember the location of all of the cages that you pass for they will come into play as soon as you have the key in tow.

Even though each of the levels are different and unique, the basic premise remains the same. Get Key-Unlock Cages-Beat up bad guys. Thankfully there are enough new aspects to each level to keep the game interesting. I was not too turned off by the repetitive action though. The game moves fast enough so that it remains exciting and fresh. Hey, Tetris is the same concept over and over and look how addictive that is. Puppies to the Rescue follows the premise that a well-thought-out concept will be good enough to base a game around and while the concept is not totally original it is presented in a way that makes you feel like you have never played anything like this before.

In the end I was just happy that I did not have to mess around with fussy control or hard to see graphics. Everything was clear and it made for a very enjoyable experience even if it did only last a short while.

Chris Shade

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