Impressions: iCarly

Children’s games are usually not ones to look to when you’re in need of some exemplary gameplay, nor graphics. Fortunately, there are a few interesting titles to be found within the realm of kid-dom that don’t entirely strike out. What’s more, some of those titles are even based on licensed properties. Take Nickelodeon’s hit show iCarly.  It didn’t take long for the videogame adaptations to arrive, but can the plight of talented teens and their webcam show translate onto the Nintendo Wii and DS?  Better than you might expect, I swear!

If you’re not familiar with the series (I was not prior to playing the game), iCarly follows the adventures of preteen Carly, who runs her own show via webcam on the internet. The shows don’t consist of much – just Carly and her gang goofing off and performing crazy stunts on camera. Occasionally, a life lesson is learned, and the gang generally becomes a little bit closer after learning the lesson. It’s very much a typical Nickelodeon sitcom, but full of smarter humor than the rest of the pack. Miranda Cosgrove, whom you may remember from the movie School of Rock, is casted as main character Carly, has lent her voice talents to the game, as well as the rest of the cast.

The game is essentially a watered-down version of WarioWare: Smooth Moves, in that you are presented with several mini-games in each stage that require you to quickly figure out what to do. A simple command will be issued such as “Hang the noses on the tree!”, along with a brief demonstration of how to hold the Wii remote in order to pass the minigame successfully. Much like mastering the poses of WarioWare, this takes a little practice and it will be smooth sailing once you’ve memorized the several positions you must hold the remote in.

Each stage (titled “Webisode”) is comprised of 6 to 8 bite-sized games that you must pass with flying colors in order to progress through the narrative. You’ll be doing plenty of zany things, such as squirting water at members of your crew, decorating a tree with noses, or balancing items on your head. Completing Webisodes grants you currency known as “Web cred” that can be utilized in the in-game store to buy several types of items and decorations for the hub you will launch mini-games from. If the mood strikes, you may also arrange sets of activities together in order to create your very own brand of Webisode. Not feeling the rush of playing through the campaign? The option stands to pick and choose any of the games to enjoy at your own leisure.

Story segments are sharp and smart, featuring the cartoon likenesses and voices of actual cast members, a real plus for diehard iCarly fans who are looking for a game to get “closer” to their favorite stars and storylines. Wii controls are impressively precise for a licensed title, and even more responsive than some first-party titles. I was impressed by the variety in mini-games and the silliness that ensued from the strange tasks I was assigned. I felt a genuine interest in the show and was moved to check out an episode or two of the show after completing this game. Be warned, it should only take a couple of hours at best to complete, since the mini-games are so painfully short. Because of this caveat, I can’t exactly recommend you pick it up at full price.

I was given the opportunity to play through both the Wii and Nintendo DS versions of the game, which are essentially two copies of the exact same game. Even the storyline is the same, right down to snippets of dialogue. Unfortunately, neither version features any real segments from the show or any juicy fan service for diehards to enjoy. The DS port is a bit more difficult and fast-paced because you must control the action with your stylus, but I vastly prefer the Wii edition simply because of its higher production values and attention to detail from the popular tween show.

Whether you’ve got kids, or just (secretly) enjoy the silly exploits of the iCarly gang, then the videogame version isn’t a terrible excursion to set out on. It’s a short and sweet bundle of fun and entertaining mini-games that work rather well considering the material and the curse of the licensed product, and should be a hit in a living room near you.

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