License Game Month Part 1: Snoopy vs. the Red Baron for the PS2 and PSP review

Yeah, I bet you are surprised to see me review a game based off one of the famous Peanuts characters. To be honest, I was surprised also. I mean, how good can a game starring one of the most famous cartoon dogs be? Besides the Bandai Namco logo on the box, what is there to know about this game or what it offers? Well, let me tell you how I found out about this game. The day was November 7th,2012 and I watched a video of someone talking about this game and I finally saw some footage of it. It looked cool! It reminded me of games like Skygunner which is an underrated gem of a flying combat game. I thought about that game because of the graphical presentation this game boasts. It has a very good cartoon look to it and that was a surprise to me. Usually license games based off of cartoons don’t always look that great. I have seen this game on the list of PS2 games on, but never wanted to rent it, like other licensed games for the PS2 like Kim Possible: What’s the Switch? Anyway, I decided to rent it from Gamefly since I had the time, and well, let’s see what this game is all about. I mean, hey, if this one is good, I’ll check out that Kim Possible one also! 

                The story revolves around one of Snoopy’s many dream sequences and probably his most well-known dream where he is an ace fighter pilot during World War 1. He goes on missions provided by the Peanuts cast to stop the Red Baron and his evil army from taking over the world. There really isn’t any deep story here, it’s simple, and it does have its charm, due to the cast of characters from the comics in their respective roles within the dream. Fun fact, this is one of the last Peanuts-related media products that has Snoopy and Woodstock’s original voice actor, Bill Melendez providing the voice for the two characters for one of the last times. This game was developed by Smart Bomb Interactive that also made a downloadable sequel to this game called Snoopy Flying Ace. They also developed Pac-Man: World Rally and the Wii version of The Bee Movie video game.
                The gameplay for Snoopy vs. the Red Baron is a dogfighting aerial combat game where you play as Snoopy flying through different levels taking on different missions, from destroying the enemies, escorting allies, taking down bosses, to sneaking your way through levels, just to name a few of the mission varieties in the game. The levels remind me of Super Mario 64, where you get a couple of different billboards to fly through, and within each billboard there are multiple missions. The main pull of the game besides it being a surprisingly good licensed game is the upgrade system that Snoopy can use. Snoopy’s main weapon is, of course, the machine guns on your plane, but you can gain a huge variety of side weapons from homing rockets, a flaming boomerang, roman candles, to a huge electrical blast, just to name a few. Sometimes, you won’t be able to progress through the game unless you buy that specific sub weapon to use in the level. You can also upgrade Snoopy’s plane to have stronger machine guns, more health, and you get the idea. Throughout the levels you will be able to do side missions like shooting down balloons, shooting letters down, and other side missions to gain a better medal reward at the end of the level. This game has a lot to offer, including a dogfighting multiplayer where you can select different Peanuts characters to play as, and try to shoot the others out of the sky. Overall, it is a solid package.
                The graphics are strong for a late PS2 title that came out in 2007. It doesn’t look like a budget title, with the in-game graphics looking really well done. The CG cut scenes, on the other hand, look a bit outdated, but that could be the fault of making the Peanuts characters in 3D, and the art style I guess doesn’t transfer well into full CG cut scenes.  The music, while not fully memorable, fits the situation and can be epic at times. The voice work is a bit mixed. While Bill Melendez does a good job with Snoopy and Woodstock, the kids playing the Peanuts gang do okay. They aren’t good, but I remember the cartoon not having the best voice actors either.
                This is a good game, but there are some minor complaints. The first complaint is about the overworld. It is just a baseball field with the billboards to enter the worlds the missions take place in. I would have liked it if you could have traveled through the whole Peanuts neighborhood and not be confined into one area. The game also has a surprising sharp ascent in difficulty when you go into the third mission of the first world. The game tells you nothing about upgrading your weapons and health before this mission and you will get slaughtered if you enter the mission without the upgrades. It gets tough, and while a challenge isn’t bad since a game can lose its fun factor if it’s way too easy, I would have liked a small heads-up that I was going to travel into a trap if I didn’t upgrade first. You also have to unlock characters for multiplayer by gathering letters and having to use 1000 paw dollars to unlock them. That is a bit much since it is going to take forever to raise enough money to purchase said characters. It would have been cooler if you could have unlocked the characters for more than multiplayer. I also felt like the controls during the on-rail boss fights weren’t fully polished. They feel stiff and not as fluid as in the open-ended areas. The bosses on the on-rail segments also needed a bit of polishing, since sometimes it can be rather tricky to dodge their attacks due to your stiff controls in this segment. Other than that, that is all I have to complain about.
                If you like games like Crimson Skies, Rogue Squadron, and Skygunner, you will like this game. It’s a good game that does well for a rather unusual license choice. The game didn’t sell well due to 2007 being the focus on Wii, Xbox360, and PS3, and can be around 25-30 bucks. If you can find it for cheap, I’d recommend it! There is a sequel to this game for the Xboxlive Arcade for 10 dollars or 800 Microsoft points. This was an interesting experience, and since I liked this game, I’ll try the Kim Possible game next.
This game gets a 7 out of 10.