For those of you who don't have a child who is permanently glued to the
cartoon networks, you would be surprised that there is a cult following
around these diminutive girls. A cursory glance almost gave me the
creeps because they have huge eyes, large heads and tiny bodies but
after a quick jaunt to find out what Powerpuff Girls was all about, I
was thoroughly charmed.
With that research done, I approached the game in a fairly upbeat
manner. Powerpuff Girls were about the whole late 1990s or new
millennium 'grrl' power movement and so, naturally, I thought I was in
for some groundbreaking gameplay. Sadly, Mojo Jojo A-Go-Go is hardly
what you would call empowering. True, you get to control the trio of
Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles as they go through Townsville to save the
hapless innocent denizens from the diabolical machinations of Mojo Jojo;
who always reminded me rather of a Bender (from Futurama) gone mad. But
suffice to say, while the context is enlightening, such that the girls
are the heroines rather than damsels in distress, the overall
sophistication of the form itself is not so interesting. Because the
Powerpuff Girls fly through Townsville, you get the sense that
ultimately this is a glorified 2D shooter.
There are seven levels throughout and all of the artwork owes much to
the cartoon series, including the vividly depicted cutscenes.
Unfortunately, the levels themselves come off as rather dull,
culminating in the usual 'boss' battles. Mind you, I don't think that
is particularly bad and it's definitely not as insanely difficult as say
Giga Wing 2 was for the Dreamcast. Yet my conjecture is, most of the
potential buyers of this title are going to be little children and dare
I say, maybe even little girls. So it becomes disconcerting when the
gameplay is so horribly difficult for those who aren't well endowed into
the shooter mode. On the other hand, if you sunk hundreds of dollars
into your local Raiden II arcade machine, you'll find the actual story
to be quite short. Perhaps the developers believe that their target
audience are now all genetically engineered like the Powerpuff Girls and
have lightning fast reflexes.
The seven levels are dotted with secrets that can be discovered. You'll
also be empowered with power-ups to augment your superhuman strength and
laser-beam eyes. There is a whole theme of co-operation starting with
the fact that you control either Blossom, Buttercup or Bubbles with the
other two characters tagging along. As the trio always travels
together, Chemical X, for example, lets you conduct 'Super Attacks'.
It's an interesting theme and perhaps fitting for the audience to
promote friendly co-operation. The multiplayer option also exudes this
and naturally, only three players will be playing (which is a tad
strange considering the nominal is four but I'm guessing nobody wants to
play the bad guy, Mojo Jojo). The animation progresses smoothly with
plenty of background activity to liven up the environments.
Ultimately, Powerpuff Girls managed to impress me with the relative
depth and sophistication of their franchise. The form it was allowed to
play out though was a large disparity from the actual content. Female
heroines became stuck in a solidly status quo 2D side shooter setting
like an abstract game version of the film Pleasantville with the titular
characters in angst, trying to break out. Moreover, the shortened
gameplay and difficulty really puzzled me as who the ultimate audience
would be because certainly, some of the cartoon's younger audience will
have to struggle somewhat with the game's relatively short length.
Still, if the attention to the audio-visuals is a taste of future
Powerpuff titles, I am looking forward to a new Powerpuff Girls game;
perhaps one that is as complex as its theme.