Futurama: The Game

I rented the Futurama game for the PS2 a few weeks ago. Yesterday I sent it back without finishing it. As an unaired Futurama episode, it’s swell — it feels like the real thing, and the funny parts are just as funny as on the show.

Unfortunately, it’s not so good as a game. The biggest problem by far is the camera, which has an annoying tendency to whip around unexpectedly at the worst possible moment, causing your character to move in a different direction than you intended. I lost count of the number of times I leapt or fell to my death because the camera angle shifted mid-maneuver. It also has a tendency to get caught behind walls and other objects so you can’t see your character. Yuck!

In places the controls are a bit sluggish as well, especially in what I assume is the final set of levels with Dr. Zoidberg. I was ready to throw the controller across the room by the fifteenth or sixteenth time I tried to do a running jump with plenty of room to spare, only to have the game not jump and instead fall off the edge of whatever platform I was on. It was at that point I realized the payoff of seeing the end of the story wasn’t worth the complete lack of enjoyment I was getting from the gameplay.

Some bits of it are better than others. I liked most of the Fry and Bender levels. No coincidence that those are the first two characters you play. If the game got harder as it progressed, that’d be one thing. But instead it gets more frustrating and annoying. Those two sets of levels also contain most of the in-game humor; the later levels are much more typical platformer environments without a lot of funny stuff in the background.

Luckily, there’s a cheat code to enable all the extras, which include the cutscenes that tell most of the story. So it’s perhaps worth a rental just to do that and enjoy a new Futurama episode. Just don’t try to play it all the way through.

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