How do you turn an animated series known for its outrageous characters and non-sequiters into a quality iPhone game? While the South Park and The Simpsons games succeeded by carefully balancing the gameplay, last year’s Family Guy Uncensored was a mishmash of half-baked minigames. This year, we can see a slight improvement in that the series has gone from broken to boring.
The story in Family Guy Time Warped is strong, and could be the basis for a lost episode. Through a series of mishaps, Stewie and Brian end up lost in time, jumping between Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and modern-day Quahog to recover Stewie’s dear teddy bear Rupert and find their way home. They also encounter historical versions of other Family Guy characters, like Lois as a sultry saloon girl and Quagmire as a deviant Roman emperor named Quagligula.
Unlike last year’s Family Guy game, Family Guy Time Warped has just one type of gameplay, but it’s not especially fun. You control either Stewie or Brian in platforming and beat ’em up mode, jumping around in order to find hidden items and reach the end of the level.
Each character has a blunt object they can swing (a bat for the baby and a bone for the dog), plus a long-range weapon and a few special moves. For example, Stewie can perform a disabling uppercut that takes a few moments to charge, and Brian can use Mort Goldman’s ipecac to induce vomiting in his enemies.
If you pick up green vials of uranium, the collectibles that are scattered around like Sonic the Hedgehog’s rings, Stewie can also perform a double-jump and Brian can glide through the air. These vials of uranium also protect you from dying– like in Sonic, one hit from a bad guy will send them flying, forcing you to pick them back up.
We need more Lemon Pledge.
We like that Family Guy Time Warped has borrowed a few ideas from a platforming pro like Sonic, but why settle for a knock-off when you can download the real thing? Unlike Sonic, the core gameplay in this second Family Guy game is too dull, with boring levels and tired combat.
What saves Family Guy Time Warped completely are the constant video clips from the show. Sometimes the text dialogue will be interrupted by a vaguely related five or ten-second clip, and if you collect any of the three hidden items in each level, you’ll unlock more. Watching these random clips is a blast, but in the end, it reminded us that we’d rather be watching the show than playing this game.
Family Guy Time Warped will probably be a disappointment if you’re looking for an interactive experience that lives up to the wildly entertaining TV show. Enjoying the video clips shouldn’t require us to play a mediocre game, so we’ll stick with the DVDs and late night reruns instead.