Disney's 102 Dalmatians is a wonderfully challenging program with superb graphics and sound that'll keep you on your toes. Cruella De Vil and her menacing computerized toys are out to destroy Oddball or Domino before they can rescue the pups. Great colors, evil expressions and sinister sounds add to the ominous feel of their "presence" and provide real chills as they come up behind Domino -- "Oh, no, turn around quick and bark to destroy the toy before you get clobbered, Domino!" Truly exciting, "chilling" fun for children.
Whichever of the two pups you choose to control trots through a myriad of actual London locations as he destroys Cruella's army of toys and rescues crated comrades. The easiest levels provide a challenge to beginners, so a certain amount of coordination is required, and new levels and new surprises will continually challenge even the most skilled computer gamers. Despite having to conquer mean toys, however, the game is benign enough to satisfy parents who abhor violence, as barking is the most violent act the puppies perform to eliminate their enemies.
The first of two big drawbacks, though, is the lack of on-screen response generated by using only keyboard controls (gamepad is recommended), which results more in frustration than challenge. Protagonist pups get clobbered by toys left and right as you furiously keystroke to make them slowly turn around, bark, hop and run to outwit their enemies, rescue imprisoned puppies and gobble bones for strength. While you can make the pups move faster by making them tumble and run, the movements are clumsy enough to make this option viable only in areas where finesse isn't needed. Usually movements need to be both precise and quick and keyboarding doesn't offer a sufficient level of control for the more challenging stages.
While there is no real difficulty getting through the first level of Regent Park, the second level of Toy Store is seemingly impossible to complete using only a keyboard. After numerous tries, this reviewer was unable to reach the next levels of Piccadilly, Big Ben, Royal Museum and the Underground, just to name a few.
After about an hour of continuous play, Domino developed a nasty case of green fringe on his poor little ears while in Regent Park and began sporting brown paint-like spots on his face when in Toy Store.
Beyond these obvious glitches, though, the game will continuously challenge and delight. Kids and adults alike will fall in love with the characters and scenery and be thrilled at the sight of seeing a scary toy simply "deflate" with one resounding bark.
Graphics: The graphics are stunning and sometimes surreal as the worlds and landscapes are a slippery funhouse of changing environments. One minute Domino is trotting down a garden path in Regent's Park and the next he's sliding on a kaleidoscope of color -- around every corner is another surprise. The puppies are realistically adorable. The major drawback, though, is need of a machine with higher video capabilities than stated by the developers.
Sound: The toys each have unique sounds associated with them so you can often "hear" the enemy toys before they're seen, which adds to the suspense, and allows you to deftly position Domino or Oddball correctly in order to destroy the toy. Helpers within the game (e.g., Waddlesworth or Sergeant Tibbs) have wonderfully characterized voices, as do the pups. The background tracks of music during gameplay eventually become annoying and distracting due to constant repetition.
Enjoyment: A wonderful program that challenges and excites as it entertains. There's never a dull moment, but the non-responsiveness of the keyboard is disappointing.
Replay Value: With so many levels and challenges, even skilled game players will need time to get through the game. Conquering one level just whets the appetite to get on to the next one -- nearly endless fun.
People who downloaded Disney's 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue have also downloaded:
Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!, Disney's Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise, Disney/Pixar A Bug's Life, Disney's Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge, Disney's Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers, Disney's Hercules Action Game, Disney/Pixar's Monsters, Inc. Scare Island, Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
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