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Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. PlayStation 2

Published by Global Star Software
Developed by High Voltage Software
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Codename: Kids Next Door – Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E., an introduction.

Codename: Kids Next Door is a cartoon where five 10-year old children have formed their own group known as Kids Next Door. Instead of using their real names they refer to each other as 'Numbuh's' and they have dedicated themselves to fighting the tyranny of adult rule. It's a wacky cartoon to be sure but if you think about it, it's also a decent source of material for a video game.

What's the game about?

Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. allows you to play as the five Kids Next Door characters (Numbuh's One to Five) in a story spanning 14 levels. During the game you'll encounter their usual enemies from the TV show. Characters such as Stickybeard, Knightbrace, The Common Cold, Gramma Stuffum and The Tolietnator are all here and they're all out to get the kids. The game is classified as an action adventure but in actual fact it can be regarded, to a certain degree, as a platform game too.

What's good about the game?

Those of you who are fans of the Cartoon Network program will undoubtedly take a shine to what's on offer here. Being able to play as all of the Numbuh's (honestly that's how it's spelt) will be a really nice touch for fans of the program and they all have their own special abilities. There are plenty of platform game elements here but thankfully they have been kept fairly simple (although in some circumstances camera angles can make these elements very tricky). There are quite a few context sensitive actions in the game which are performed with the circle button. A lot of these actions simply require you to place your character on a blue circle (with footprints inside) icon and then press the circle button. This helps to keep things nice and simplified for most of the time. The game also has an enemy lock-on feature (you simply hold down the L1 button), which makes targeting your enemies very straightforward. Whilst most of the game is fairly simple, the boss fights can be quite challenging. Whether or not this is a good thing though really depends on the young individual who is playing the game. The game employs a checkpoint save system and the checkpoints aren't too far apart.

What's not so good about the game?

The biggest problem with Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. is not the fact that a lot of the verbal content isn't subtitled; it's the awful game camera angles that completely make the whole experience one of frustration. You can control the camera with the right analogue stick for most of the time but even when you can control it, the camera requires far too much attention. During the platforming elements in the game, it can be really tricky at times when judging where to jump when the camera angle is fixed. Sometimes the camera angles are so poor it feels like guess work. For a game aimed at children this is a disaster and will probably make younger gamers give up in frustration. Camera angles aside, the game gets repetitive rather quickly. The combat is all too monotonous and it's easy to tire of doing the same thing over and over again.

How does it look?

The look of Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. has been kept simplistic. The games levels aren't particularly inspiring although to the developer's credit, it would have been silly to have elaborated level design for a game aimed at young children. The characters are all instantly recognisable from the TV show and all look pretty much how you would expect them to, especially as they aren't that detailed in the cartoon. As we've already mentioned the camera angles are this game's Achilles heel and they really do spoil the game. The frame rate is solid but given the lack of complexity here that is surely to be expected.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. doesn't offer a great experience for deaf gamers. The cutscenes aren't subtitled which means you'll miss out on the story. The tutorial messages are shown in text, as are the key parts of the dialogue at the beginning of each mission. A lot of what the characters say in the missions is not subtitled though, which is unfortunate. During a boss fight your character can give hints about what needs to be done and these hints are not subtitled. On the whole it's a disappointment for deaf gamers.

Final thoughts.

Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. manages to do a good job in appealing to fans of the TV show but as a game it's not the most pleasant experience. The damage is really caused by problematic camera angles but the missions do become quite tedious in places and boss fights aside there's not that much of a challenge. Of course for younger deaf gamers the problems run deeper as the cutscenes are not subtitled and quite a lot of the character comments are also not subtitled. Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. is probably best left to enthusiastic fans of the TV show because it just won't hold the attention of others for very long.


Overall Game Rating: 4.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Terrible camera angles and lack of provision for deaf gamers, coupled with uninspiring action, means that Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. is nowhere near the game it could have been. The boss fights are actually quite good though.