Outright Games, the premier publisher when it comes to family friendly console games, is back with another Paw Patrol title. Paw Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls is already the third videogame based on the franchise and it’s available on all major console platforms and PC.
There seems to be no stopping the Paw Patrol franchise, because after a recent DVD release and just before an upcoming theater movie, we have a game that ties into it. As with the first two titles, it’s firmly targeted at the 4 to 7 year old demographic. Published by Drakhar Studio, who also developed “Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay” (2020), Adventure City Calls feels like the next logical iteration, for better or for worse.
With such a young target audience, there’s a limit to what you can do in terms of gameplay and complexity, so it’s no surprise that Adventure City Calls plays quite a bit like last year’s game, which was also a basic 3D platformer starring the pups and their “Mighty Pups” alter egos, giving them superpowers during short challenges. The first Paw Patrol game was actually a 2D platformer, and thus a little easier for the youngest of players, and we were surprised to see that this latest game also takes a few gameplay cues from that one – with 2D underwater sections are quite familiar.
It’s nice a “best of” approach that adds diversity to the game, but there’s not a whole lot that’s new. There’s a small amount of story-driven missions that play out like a typical episode of the show, with a scenario that needs your help. The levels themselves are then a mix of simple platforming and walking through mostly linear levels to the next spot where you can interact with the environment – showing off pup-specific abilities. On the way you can collect pup treats and badges, and because you’ll likely miss a few on your first playthrough there’s some incentive to go back as well.
On top of these main missions you can also play mini-games, which are nice diversions and support multiplayer as well. Like the main game they’re simple affairs that feel like mobile takes on genres like rhythm games and runners, but because they all feature the familiar faces of the popular pups (including the latest addition, Liberty) young fans aren’t likely to mind. That also goes for the fact that most of what’s on offer here is essentially a rehash of the first two games – something we adults probably care about more than they do.
There are areas where the game takes a step backwards though, mostly in terms of presentation. As with the previous games the pups aren’t voiced, but at least Mighty Pups had a catchy theme song and Adventure City Calls had us waiting in silence for the game to kick in with “Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol, whenever there is trouble”….. it never came.
The game also changed the look of the characters to match the movie, which can most easily be seen when you look at Ryder’s new look. It makes sense considering the license, but it looks different from the episodes on Netflix and if you haven’t seen the movie yet then get ready for “why does Ryder look weird?” from players.
This is another solid game for young players who love Paw Patrol and are getting started with videogames. A lack of innovation holds it back as it’s too similar to last year’s game and they once again don’t make the most out of the license, but the target audience is unlikely to mind.