Code Lyoko is a French-made animated series that has gained some popularity in North America thanks to a stint on the Cartoon Network. The show hasn't exploded like Digimon or Ben 10, but it has amassed enough of a following for Game Factory to produce a video game based on the series for the Nintendo DS. It employs a mixture of 2D point-and-click adventure levels and 3D action levels to guide players through a hands-on retelling of the show's first three seasons. Younger fans of the show will likely enjoy watching the story gradually unfold as they constantly use the characters' superpowers to fight monsters in Lyoko's virtual world. However, the game's sluggish pace, repetitive combat, and straightforward puzzles guarantee that older or experienced players will lose interest long before the story reaches its conclusion.
Hand-drawn artwork aside, you'll feel like you're being dragged from one spot to the next by the story's leash.
If you're not familiar with the show, all you really need to know is that it follows the exploits of four boarding-school students who make frequent trips into a virtual world called Lyoko to battle monsters unleashed by an evil digital entity known as X.A.N.A. In the real world, the kids go to class, hang out, and get into the typical sort of mischief that kids do. In the virtual world, they use their enhanced strength and special abilities to blast monsters or navigate the high-tech obstacle courses that lead to X.A.N.A's towers. Just like the show, some events in the game take place in the real world and some take place in the virtual world. Each of the 15 chapters is split into two portions. One portion is a PC-style 2D point-and-click adventure, where you take control of one of the characters to visit different locations, talk to people, gather items, and generally watch the story unfold. The other portion is a 3D action level where you swap among characters and use their abilities to fight monsters, hop between platforms, or climb up hillsides in search of the tower that'll put and end to whatever problem is currently pestering the real world.
Aesthetically, the game is a treat. The hand-drawn artwork in the real-world levels provides a nice contrast to the 3D structures and monsters in the virtual-world levels. From a technical perspective, the 3D worlds are large, while the engine has no trouble pushing all of the textured polygons for the characters, enemies, and terrain without a hint of slowdown. There aren't many sound effects to accompany the action--just a few laser blasts--but that's not a huge deal because there's a smorgasbord of music that varies from soothing to upbeat to match the situation. The controls are also friendly; they jibe with the dualism that the game and the show are trying to convey. In the real-world levels, you use the D pad to move the active character around and tap the touch screen to interact with people or pick up objects. In the virtual world, you'll find yourself primarily tapping the buttons to attack enemies and activate your shields, only using the touch screen to occasionally change characters or activate special abilities.