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by Bam!

ps1_ppg_screen4-01.jpg (6417 bytes)Playing video games shouldn’t be a painful experience. When playing video games seems more like assembly work than saving the world, you know you’ve got a problem. Let me start things off by stating that I really like The Powerpuff Girls as a cartoon. It’s everything that a cartoon should be: witty, stylish and silly. Unfortunately, what makes the Powerpuff Girls so successful as a cartoon does not translate easily to the video game medium.

Simply put, the folks over at Bam! have stranded the Powerpuff Girls in a watered down version of Power Stone. For a fighting game to be successful it has to have at least one of three things: an intricate fighting system, breakneck pacing, or fantabulous graphics. The best fighting games have all three; adequate fighting games have at least two of the three; and passable fighting games can get by with only one. However, what do you do with a game that can’t measure up to any of these criteria? You run. You run as fast as you can.

ps1_ppg_screen2-01.jpg (8171 bytes)The question isn’t, "what’s the matter with the game?" but rather, "What problem do I start with?" I suppose the graphics would be as good a place as any. Because of the highly stylized world of the Powerpuff Girls, I’m sure that the game makers thought that they could get away with a minimal approach in terms of graphics, and they could have, if they had remembered to incorporate style. The graphics have a pre-first generation PlayStation one feel to them. You expect this level of quality in your bargain bin games, but not in a new, full priced high profile one.

The fighting system is more basic than you’re going to find on any game outside of the original Double Dragon. Punch, kick, and pick up stuff to throw. You can fly around too, but it’s more like floating than actually flying. The game is so slow that flying around the room is more akin to starring in the Macy’s parade than anything even remotely superheroish.

ps1_ppg_screen1-01.jpg (8201 bytes)Perhaps the game makers have watched a few too many John Woo films. I can just see them sitting around and saying, "Isn’t it really cool when the action happens in slow motion." Everyone nods his or her heads in passive ascent. "Wouldn’t it be cool to have a game that was totally in slow motion?" Again with the nodding. And so we have a game that feels like the characters are fighting under water. Getting from one side of the screen to the other feels more like a long paragraph section from the tortoise and the hare than a fighting game.

Powerpuff Girls: Chemical Extraction is yet another example of franchise exploitation. Knowing that there is a built in audience for the Powerpuff Girls, the game makers failed to see any reason for actually working to make a game that sells itself on its own merits. ‘Tis a shame.

ps1_ppg_screen3-01.jpg (9176 bytes)This is one of those games where you really have to work to find any merits. It does have a two player vs. mode (not that it’s any good). For some reason the two player mode won’t let you pit one Powerpuff Girl against another. I guess the Powerpuff Girls can be mean to anyone but each other.

Usually, I laugh at really bad games as I play them. I think of all of the clever put downs I can incorporate into my review and I actually enjoy the badness of the game play. I didn’t even enjoy this game for its crappiness. It was such a pathetic gaming experience that I could find no joy in mocking. In fact I feel kind of guilty for being so hard on the game.

Jason Frank   (01/24/2002)


Ups: Powerpuff Girls.

Downs: Graphics; slow pacing; incredibly simple controls; just not any fun.

Platform: PSone