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Gamer Tuesday

September 27, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue
Developed by: Crystal Dynamics
System: PlayStation, Dreamcast, PC, Game Boy Color

In 1996, Disney released the live action adaptation of 101 Dalmatians starring Glen Close as Cruella DeVille. An odd decision, I thought at the time, since the animated version of the story was already very popular and beloved by the time the live action adaptation was released. Even more peculiar, a sequel was released in 2000 called 102 Dalmatians, also starring Glen Close and featuring Oddball, the puppy with no spots. That feature film yielded a really fun video game adaptation, titled 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue.

For the most part, it follows the basics of the movie's storyline really well, but it is mainly a loose adaptation. You play as both Oddball and Domino as they go around London (and 15 other levels) trying to foil Cruella's plot to capture as many puppies as possible. Each level has a set number of missions (or 'chores' as the game likes to call them). Completion of these missions will yield their own set of rewards. The gameplay is a 3D platformer akin to popular titles of the era like Super Mario 64. These type of platformers were often hit or miss due to how complex the mechanics were. Puppies to the Rescue, however, avoids most of the problems seen in these games, like a trouble camera system.

Oddball and Domino are not alone in their quest as they encounter animal friends that will help them in their journey, such as the parrot that thinks he is a dog and Cruella's own puppy. Each level has a set number of collectibles Oddball and Domino can find such as bones and, of course, their puppy siblings. Much like in classic platforming titles collecting these will help you gain a better score, as well as unlock additional goodies. In Puppies to the Rescue you can unlock stickers that will appear in a nifty sticker book.

Puppies to the Rescue's presentation is charming and true to the adorable appeal of the 101 Dalmatians films. It doesn't break new ground when it comes to technical design, but it all works splendidly, especially in the cut scenes. But easily the game's strongest asset lies in the sound presentation. Puppies to the Rescue is fully voiced. It features the talents of great voice actors such as Susan Blakeslee as Cruella, Maurice Lamarche as Horace, and even Monty Python star Eric Idle as Waddlesworth! It even features the talents of Frankie Muniz (TV's Malcom in the Middle) as the voice of Domino! Clearly a lot of effort went into creating a bonafide 101 Dalmatians product.

Unfortunately, at the time of its release, 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue was treated as a cash in game and thus didn't gain a stronger legacy. It's a shame as while it doesn't stray away from the path clearly set by the pioneers of the genre, the game does a pretty good job of presenting us a charming digital version of one of the world's most famous canine stories. In a way, the game is like its leading star Oddball: different from the rest but just as charming, if not more.


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