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Dexter's Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes!

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Virtucraft
Publisher:  BAM!
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platformer
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  10-29-01

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 category.

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.

Veteran gamers 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 times.

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.


  • Annoying music to anyone over the age of 13.
  • Rather repetitive gameplay, although it has it’s creative moments.

Final Verdict:

Dexter’s 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.

Overall Score: 7.0

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