Where’s My Perry?
Developer: Creature Feep
Publisher: Disney Mobile
Platform: iPhone (reviewed), iPAD
Release Date: June 28, 2012
Licensed apps. It’s not a term that fills gamers with confidence. It’s almost common knowledge that games based on properties from film or TV are usually not worth the effort, and iPhone apps based on these are more often than not the bottom of the barrel. Where’s My Perry? is based on The Disney Channel cartoon Phineas and Ferb, and plays pretty much exactly like Disney Mobile’s previous hit app, Where’s My Water? So how does it fare, with that stigma in mind?
It doesn’t need much context, but what you’re given is essentially this: You must help a secret agent platypus travel to an underground lair through vacuum tubes, by manipulating water, steam and ice. I don’t really know what Phineas and Ferb is about, but if this makes sense to you, well… awesome. For the rest of us, it doesn’t really matter.
Of course, it’s how it plays out that’s important, and thankfully, the gameplay makes more sense. If you played Where’s My Water?, you’ll immediately get it: Where’s My Perry? isn’t much more than new puzzles reskinned with a licensed IP, like what Angry Birds did with Rio.
To power Perry’s transport, players need to direct water into a pipe, digging tunnels through dirt by dragging your finger around the screen. The water physics are reasonably realistic, and as such the water’s movements always make sense, but are not always predictable. That’s the best kind of challenge a physics puzzler can offer: if something doesn’t work, it’s because you’re doing it wrong. It’s never the game’s fault. It’s always either that you’ve misjudged how the water will react, or some small imperfection in your plan has altered the outcome. Whichever way a failed attempt pans out, it always has you feeling like the next turn will be a success. If not, surely it’ll be the one after that. Or after that.
That mindset, where victory is always just out of reach, fosters a healthy level of addictiveness that keeps you coming back, but doesn’t frustrate you too much.
This is the core of the game, but a few other layers are placed over the top. As with most games, semi-arbitrary collectables are scattered around: there are three gnomes in each level, which you collect by filling with a certain amount of water or steam. Some levels also have secret documents, buried somewhere in the dirt. Collecting all of these, before getting the water to the exit, adds an extra challenge.
Soon, additional elements are introduced, and it becomes about the relationships between them. Water can be heated and cooled to bring steam and ice into the mix, which bring with them their own uses and physics.
Heat ice and it’ll melt into water. Heat water, and it’ll evaporate into steam. Cool steam, it’ll condense back into water, or cool water, it’ll freeze into ice. It’s basic stuff, but the puzzles built around it become quite ingenious. Heating and cooling sources may be a viscous goo, or a laser. Then throw buttons, hoses and moving blocks into the mix and you’ve got yourself a classic puzzle game.
Visuals & Audio
The presentation is obviously rooted in that of the base show, Phineas and Ferb. I hadn’t actually seen it, but a quick Youtube scan shows that the visual style is quite faithful to the source, and it looks fantastic on the iPhone’s Retina screen. It has the sharp-edged, Flash-animated look of a lot of cartoons nowadays. Dressing up Where’s My Water? in a Disney Channel cartoon works quite well. At best, it increases the appeal to Phineas and Ferb fans, and at the least, it combines the visual cues into a coherent whole that even those who haven’t seen the show will find charming.
The sound design continues the trend, with the show’s original voice cast reprising their usual roles. Perry remains a largely silent protagonist, besides the odd grunt or growl, but his allies and enemies are quite entertaining. Someone will pop up to talk over the radio at the start of a level, or periodically if you take too long. It might be his boss, Major Monogram, dorky lab assistant Carl, or their arch-nemesis, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, but someone will regularly be there to provide a tip or a quip. The writing isn’t bad, either, with these one-liners often eliciting a chuckle.
All together, the Phineas and Ferb packaging increases the game’s appeal, and has interested me enough to want to check out the show.
If you’re a Phineas and Ferb fan who likes puzzle games, there’s no question: you need to play Where’s My Perry?
If you’re a regular puzzle gamer, who’s sick of Angry Birds, Cut The Rope and all that, Where’s My Perry? is a very worthy successor. The Phineas and Ferb flavour adds personality to the core addictive gameplay, and the whole package will charm the socks off any players.