Bolt is the ideal canine companion: He's loyal, intelligent, obedient, and can shoot lasers from his eyes. Unfortunately, this superdog doesn't get the superstar treatment that he deserves on the Nintendo DS. The shallow plot makes it hard to care about the story's outcome and the repetitive gameplay sucks all the substance out of the action. It's a shame that Bolt doesn't use his talents more, because this pound puppy is incredibly cute. However, not even his laser beam vision can solder these crummy parts into something worth playing.
The dynamic duo are off to rescue Penny's dad from the evil Calico.
It's probably for the best that Bolt on the DS doesn't follow the movie's storyline. In the movie, Bolt doesn't actually have superpowers; he's merely an actor on a television show. Instead, the DS game is one of the action-packed episodes in which Penny, Bolt's owner, must save her father from the sinister, green-eyed Calico. You'll travel to five exotic locations, taking out along the way what seems like an army of cloned henchmen, until your final showdown with Calico. The story is told with still images and minimal dialogue, none of which is voice acted. These sequences feel more like a PowerPoint presentation whose sole purpose is to break up the monotonous gameplay.
Through the game's 30 missions, you'll rotate between playing as Penny and Bolt, neither of whom is particularly exciting. Penny swings her wheel bar, a device that also lets her scale walls and use a zip line, and Bolt bashes enemies with his forehead. Using the X and Y buttons, you can attack and do various combos, but you'll never need to know more than one combo. Energy atoms can be collected by breaking crates and by fighting the limited assortment of bad guys. Atoms are so plentiful, you'll max out your four-legged friend's abilities well before the ending credits. The ability to customize and enhance your characters is a great feature, except once you're capped out, you have no reason to fight or explore anymore.
Though the majority of the gameplay is button-mashing, you do spend time with some brief minigames. The brave young Penny has the ability to hack computers, represented by a quick but mildly entertaining minigame in which you draw lines to connect symbols to match the pattern in the top screen. Unfortunately, this is the most exciting action Penny has in her repertoire. She's a clever girl, but walking from one end of the map to the other, clobbering enemies, and jumping over gaps gets old really fast. Bolt, on the other hand, is able to use his laser vision when the situation calls for it. An arrow pops up on the touch screen for you to trace. These are scripted moments, which is disappointing because it would have been nice to use this ability at your leisure to mow down an entire row of Calico's followers.