Sunday, June 14, 2015

Level Up: Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law

Today, we have the case of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. It is a game has been seen on the Nintendo Wii and PSP, but has been caught on the Sony Play Station 2. It stands accused being a bad video game. Today it is time to lay this case to rest. Prosecutor; your closing statements please.
*Smarmy voice*Thank you, your honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the most important thing for you to remember when deliberating is the source of this game and recall that it is *Capcom Time*. Yes, as the TV show of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is a court room comedy, it made sense to approach the makers of the Pheonix Wright : Ace Attorney to make a similar game. And while my personal experiences with that series may be minimal, even I can tell that this is a shell of what that series is. While in Pheonix Wright you have a sense of interrogation, this game is more of a comprehension test: they’ll mention an item in a line of dialog and you present it, or they’ll give you some options and you choose the only one that makes any sense. There is no feeling of mystery solving for most of the game.
Of course, there is more to than just the court room scenes. Part of the appeal of both the Pheonix Wright games and the Harvey Birdman show is that there are things happening elsewhere, sometimes related to the case. Here it’s used as an attempt to make the game feel more like a full point and click adventure. However, these sections somehow feel more limited than the court room. Very often, you’ll only have a couple of rooms you can go between making what you need to do painfully obvious. This is partially due to the fact that the game takes place over 5 separate episodes. There is no flow between them, and each one is really short. This can ruin the pace, as things may start going far too quickly.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I could continue, but the facts are clear: this so called “game” is less enjoyable that some DVD bonus quizzes. I rest my case.
*gavel* *deep voice* Thank you Prosecution. Defense, it is now time for your closing argument.
*Softer voice* Thank you, your honor. Ladies and gentlemen, the prosecutor was correct when he said that you have to remember the source of this game, but was misleading when he talked uniquely about the game makers. Yes, this is a video game, but it is also a licensed game. We have to remember that this is a tribute to the Harvey Birdman show and ask ourselves if it is a good representation of it. And that is where this game is a success. Through the situations are you are thrown in, the wealth of classic Hannah-Barbara characters seen and referenced and the dialog options you are giving, this game does a good job of capturing the bizarre feeling of the show. It becomes wacky and silly in the exact way you expect it to, and the characters act exactly how they would on the show. The fact that it has the same voice cast and the simple animation is easily recreated for this game also contributes greatly to this. Yes, the pacing may go quickly, but the show itself was only 15 minutes per episode and would also go by quickly.
It was also mentioned that this game contains 5 episodes. Yes, they don’t connect, but they do a good job of escalating and advancing. Each story has more at stake than the previous one- from a robbery, to having to defend his identity and job- and puts Harvey into a more difficult situation.
I know some of you may remain unconvinced, believing that a lack luster game can’t stand on fan appeal alone. To that, I would like to submit new evidence to the attention of the jury.
*Smarmy voice* Objection your honor! The defense cannot submit new evidence during the closing statements!
*Deep voice*Overruled, on the grounds that this script was written by someone who has minimal knowledge of court proceedings. Defense, you may continue.
*Soft voice* Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, what I have here is a receipt for the game. Notice that it was purchased at a dollar store for a cost of 3 dollars. For that kind of price, the amount of entertainment provided by this game makes it a good value. I rest my case.
*Deep voice* Has the Jury reached a verdict?
*Normal voice* We have. Though we find Harvey Birdman to be a lackluster game with very little to offer, we cannot find it guilty of being bad. It doesn’t seem to have anything for people who aren’t fans of the series, but those who are will enjoy this about as much as they would enjoy a typical episode for the same length of time they would be playing the game. This is of course considering the possibility you are able to find it cheap. Paying full prince for this game would not be recommended.
*Deep voice* Then I sentence Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law for the PS2 to 5.5 levels out of 10.

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