The plot of the film goes something like this: Jon Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, travels to the UK to propose to his girlfriend Dr. Liz Wilson. Garfield comes along and somehow gets mistaken for Prince, a cat who has just inherited a castle. You can probably guess where it goes from here: Garfield receives the royal treatment. However, Lord Dargis, who is next in line to take over the castle, wants Prince/Garfield out. The game draws off of the movie in small ways but you really don’t need to have seen the movie for it to make sense.
I think Garfield can be easily compared to its console predecessors. While my console experience is quite limited, I find it very easy to compare this game to the Sonic series. Instead of the famous Sonic spin, you have super jump, in place of rings you collect lasagna, you jump up to high platforms, etc. So, you will find that playing the PC version with a gamepad will most likely be the best route.
The game begins with a few basic tutorials, and then you’re off to take a look around the garden, which is one of several locations. New locations are eventually unlocked as you progress and include the castle, basement/sewers, rooftops, and finally the catacombs for a battle with Dargis. While the change of locales is welcome, it is the missions within those locales that are extremely repetitive. You basically do the same thing in each one; the only difference is the environment. These missions include a DDR-like dancing challenge, flying a goose through a bunch of large hoops, racing a parrot, breaking vases within a time limit, collecting a bunch of timers within a time limit, etc. After freeing a mouse, you open up some other missions where you are the mouse and have to steer a marble into some gear-like structure in order to unlock corresponding gates. On top of this, you also need to collect a certain amount of lasagna, depending on what difficulty setting you decide to use. In all locations there are other “bad” animals that you will need either to avoid or overcome. These animals include rats, dogs, toads, spiders, birds, porcupines, etc. In addition to jumping on the bad animals, you can also do a spin move, dive into them, or do a special jump which is more forceful, to kill them.
The largest issue I have with this game, which is also true for most console ports, is that your point of view gets just plain horrible at times. The view is completely automatic and you can’t do anything to change it besides running in the opposite direction and then turning around and moving towards the direction in which you would like to look. What makes it worse in this game is that the view never seems to zoom out at all. Several of the locations you enter have high platforms where you need to travel upward. So, even though you want to look at a point above you, to see which direction you will need to jump in, there is no easy way to do so. It also gets very tricky when you learn you need to do a super jump in one direction then go in the opposite direction when you reach that first platform; it’s pretty much equivalent to taking a blind leap and hoping that you’ll land in the correct spot. This could be fixed by allowing the player to use the mouse to look around and having the viewpoint auto-adjust when the mouse wasn’t being used. Automatically zooming out once in a while would also have greatly improved the gameplay.
"The view is completely automatic and you can’t do anything to change it ..."
Potential players should also know that one cannot run right through and complete the game location by location. As I already stated, you begin in the garden, and I was thinking that I’d just finish there before moving on to a new unlocked location. Towards the back of the garden, in the cemetery, there are places which simply cannot be reached until you know how to wall jump, which you learn how to do later in the game. For some reason, I attempted to reach the impossible (at the time) and spent at least an hour trying to make what I thought was just a difficult leap. It got frustrating quite quickly so if you play the game, please be aware of this.
The game’s graphics are a touch above average. Garfield himself looks good and most of the environments do as well. However, other models and objects just didn’t look as good – such as Winston, some of the bushes, the barren trees in the graveyard, and fences. Altogether, the graphics are pretty good and the issues I have in this area don’t really detract from the overall game.
"Altogether, the graphics are pretty good..."
The sounds and music are well done. Each location has its own background music, which is definitely a plus since each location’s music gets annoying after a while. I’d describe the majority of the music as being kind of a jazz/synthesizer mix which comes of sounding very Seinfeld-ish at times. While the voice acting isn’t bad, we unfortunately don’t get the same voice talent from the motion picture; the actors are different. Garfield sounds lazy and unenthusiastic like he’s supposed to and it seems fine, but hearing Bill Murrary’s voice, in addition to other very popular celebrities, would have added an additional entertainment element.
Depending on what difficulty setting you use, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties should clock in somewhere around six to eight hours depending on how quickly you figure things out and how easily you are able to finish the missions and collect the lasagna. The game will certainly keep you busy for a while and has a certain level of challenge (even though the majority of the game is fairly easy) and entertainment value. However, it does suffer from several issues which I have pointed out and I really don’t think that people outside of the target audience will find it enjoyable.
Despite the repetitiveness and other issues I think the game is probably well suited for its younger target audience. If you’re planning on purchasing this game, though, I would highly recommend either using a gamepad or simply buying the console version instead. This game was made for the consoles and would be better played on one.
"...I would highly recommend either using a gamepad or simply buying the console version instead."