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by Bam!

agb_dexter_screen1-01.jpg (5148 bytes)Judging from the dreck that overwhelms our Saturday morning schedule, true genius in the world of cartoons is an uncommon occurrence. Dexter’s Laboratory is that rare cartoon that has the ability to appeal to both adults and children. Fortunately, the makers of Dexter’s Laboratory for the Game Boy Advance have created a game that will appeal to both adults and children as well. This is the kind of game that you hope for as a reviewer but so rarely see. It has all of the strengths of a solid platformer with so few of the genre’s inherent weaknesses. Not only is it an entertaining game, but it capitalizes heavily on the style and humor of the franchise without alienating those who don’t have the Cartoon Network piped into their house.

agb_dexter_screen2-01.jpg (5975 bytes)Dexter’s sister has been playing with the cloning machine and created havoc with a legion of Dee Dees. Your responsibility is to collect the rampant clones and try to restore order to the lab. It’s a premise right out of the series, which only adds credibility to the game. There are a number of tools and gadgets that you have to employ to work your way through the levelsYou must pay attention and use your head—a rare thing in most platformers today. There are some very clever puzzles laid out through the game that will keep you guessing but won’t have you tearing your hair out in frustration. Dexter’s Laboratory employs your standard run, jump, punch, shoot elements, but it’s the puzzles that add a much needed depth to the gameplay.

The graphics are great. There’s a real nice use of color and the backgrounds are alive with detail and animations. The simple lines and style of the show are faithfully recreated on the Gameboy Advance.

agb_dexter_screen3-01.jpg (5679 bytes)Another great thing about this game is the quantity of gameplay. Unfortunately, so many handheld games can be finished in an all too brief sitting. Not here. This isn’t a game that you’re going to even finish in a night. There are dozens of cloned Dee Dees on a multitude of levels to round up before all is said and done.

The only blemish on this game lies in its controls. They are a little tricky and imprecise which accounted for a few moments of frustration. The isometric 3D view made some of the jumps hard to judge especially on moving platforms. These frustrations were few and far between, and they shouldn’t discourage you from picking this game and giving it a try.

agb_dexter_screen4-01.jpg (5361 bytes)Bam has been producing some of the most consistently entertaining Game Boy Advance games on the market, and I can only hope that they’ll be the ones to handle the inevitable Samurai Jack game. This is one of the few platformers I’ve played in a long that doesn’t feel like another bastardization of Mario. And that is a good thing. Fans of Dexter will love this game, and those who have never seen the show should be thoroughly entertained.

Jason Frank   (11/20/2001)


Ups: Nice graphics; good sense of humor; fun puzzles.

Downs: Some tricky control and perspective issues.

Platform: GBA