Who is the man in the suit?
Why it’s none other than Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. If you’re familiar with the late-night program block on Cartoon Network know as [adult swim] than you’re probably a 14-35 year-old stoner who stays in on Sunday nights to watch cartoons. Just like me and all of my friends. That’s a good thing, because if this game was your first introduction to Harvey and pals, you would have ended up hating him and his wacky courtroom antics.
[image1]Harvey Birdman takes the concept that made Phoenix Wright so successful for Capcom and tries to put a new face on it. You play as the Birdman himself, a low-level lawyer known for taking on cases for famous old cartoon characters. Whether it's protecting Quick Draw McGraw’s rights to carry a concealed Guitar, or representing a duck that wants to change his name from Yakky Doodle to Chemical Castration, you’ll take the case.
The whole game consists of you collecting evidence and character profiles in order to win the trial and save the day, just like a certain spiky-haired, anime attorney. The thing that makes it different from Phoenix is that the humor is targeted towards a more mature audience (or immature, depending on how you look at it). That’s right, all the sexual entendre and biting wit of the show are here and accounted for. It’s the best part of the game. Heck, it’s the only redeeming part of the game.
They even got the entire cast of the show to reprise their roles. With the exception of one Stephen Colbert, who was the voice of Harvey’s boss, Phil Ken Sebben, and prosecuting attorney Myron Reducto. Apparently, having a highly successful cable show makes you not want to do lowly voice-over jobs anymore.
If you’re a hardcore fan of the show you may find the replacement actor’s voice out of place or awkward. What’s up with that Mr.Colbert? Lewis Black is kind enough to reprise his role as the Deadly Duplicator and he’s Daily Show-alumni, too. Is it my freedom? Is that what you hate?
[image2]Throughout the game and the TV series, the ensemble cast is what really drives the humor. No one seems to like Harvey except for Birdgirl, Peter Potamus is constantly hitting on women and sending you things, and your estranged wife, GiGi, sleeps with anything that has a pulse. You can’t help but smile at all the inside jokes and references they’ve thrown in for the fans.
The graphics are the same as the animation on the show, which is pretty good quality. Some of the gestures and movements, though, are recycled. Like all the cut-scenes where you pick the wrong choice, they are essentially just cut and pasted onto whatever background and costume you happen to be in.
The gameplay mechanics, if they can be called that, are paltry. Whether you’re searching rooms for evidence or cross-examining a witness, you never feel like you’re playing a game. It’s more a feeling of surfing through menus on a DVD to get to your favorite scene in your favorite episode. Rarely do any of the cases require you to do something that isn’t painfully obvious. It’s all just press this or present that; it lacks real substance.
[image3]Not only that, but you will find yourself at the end of the game very quickly. It only takes about four hours to play in its entirety, hidden scenes and all. The game costs $29.99 if you buy it for PSP or PS2, and it’s a whopping $39.99 on the Wii. You can buy the first three seasons of the TV series on DVD new for 12 dollars a pop on the [adult swim] website. That’s four bucks cheaper than the Wii version of the game and has about ten times more content! When you consider that all this game has going for it is the humor that made the show popular, it’s obvious where you should spend your money. Plus, if you’re watching DVDs, you can put the controller down to hold your bong so it doesn’t tip over while you’re laughing your ass off.
Why is it that Williams Street can make great flash games like 5 Minutes to Kill Yourself, but when when they sell the license to "professional" video game developers, you get dreck like Harvey Birdman and Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am?
If you’re a hardcore fan of the series, you’re going to buy this game, because you need to have everything related to the show to make your collection complete. And that’s not a bad thing. I love the series, and I think that the jokes in the game are right on par with it. But video games need to be fun to play, too. This just feels like one of those movies where you push a button to decide what scene should come next (and we all know how great those movies are). That’s just not enough to justify what is essentially five slow-moving episodes of Harvey Birdman.