Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes!
By: Jared Black
Let’s not kid
ourselves here: the GBA was primarily designed with pre-teens and
early teenagers in mind. While it already has (and will have) a
number of games that appeal to older gamers (such as Castlevania:
Circle of the Moon, Tetris Worlds and Golden Sun)
who might use it to pass the time, it’s smallish design and
simplified button layout aim directly at the audience carved out by
Pokémon. Thus, it makes sense that publishers would look towards
delivering content aimed at that crowd, and Dexter’s
Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes! definitely falls into that
In case you’re
not familiar with the show, Dexter is a tyke who also happens to be
a scientific genius with a secret giant lab under his house.
Unfortunately for him, he also has a younger sister named Dee Dee
who knows about it. Little sisters can be such a pain sometimes. One
day Dee Dee decides to play with his latest invention (a cloning
machine), and transforms herself into 100+ tiny Dee Dees bent on
destroying all of his experiments. Thus, as Dexter you set out to
not only prevent them from destroying your precious experiments, but
to also collect them all and make her whole again before dinner.
know what to expect from this setup: lots of battling enemies,
solving puzzles, collecting things, and general platform wackiness.
Aside from the primary objective of collecting the mini Dee Dees,
the secondary objective is to repair each of the experiments
destroyed by their rampage. You do this by collecting various tools
throughout each level and then using them on the proper machine.
Since walking in front of each machine will reveal the proper tool
necessary to repair it (which isn’t unrealistic since Dexter would
know what was necessary), the tricky part comes in actually
collecting each tool and item. All of this can be a bit repetitive
at times (retrieve Dee Dee, fix machine, rinse, repeat, etc.), but
the puzzles are challenging enough that solving them actually seems
like an accomplishment.
It’s in the
control that the game has problems. Since everything plays out in an
isometric perspective, it can often be difficult to target things
that are in "true" directions like directly north and
south of you on the screen. While this is something you’ll learn
to compensate for, it can still result in occasional damage that
shouldn’t have happened. It can also be difficult to judge
distances in certain locations, which could potentially be fatal at
While not a
direct match, this game does a great job of graphically replicating
the feel of the show. Dexter’s laboratory is huge, and each of the
different levels has a different feel from the others. While the lab
itself is rather drab (which you’d expect), the things populating
each area are vibrant and full of color. The animation is also
excellent, as each enemy has it’s own unique movements and
characteristics. The visual style definitely skews to the younger
generation, but then again so does the show.
The sound is
your average handheld stuff, albeit a bit better quality than what
you’d find on the GBC. The music is solid, but the tunes
themselves loop frequently and are rather annoying during extended
play sessions. However, they’re whimsical enough that younger kids
will probably enjoy them. Unfortunately I don’t have any kids (not
yet) to test it on, but I think I would’ve liked it 11 years ago.
- Simple and
vibrant graphics convey the feel of the show. Naturally, that’ll
be pretty important to any Dexter fans.
- Lots to do,
and the puzzles are actually semi-challenging.
music to anyone over the age of 13.
repetitive gameplay, although it has it’s creative moments.
Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes!
does it’s job perfectly…it delivers a fun and competent platform
game that will appeal to fans of the TV series. There’s nothing
here that will compel others to play it, but that really wasn’t
the goal in the first place.