The Powerpuff Girls revival came out of left field, starting with the half-hour special that premiered on Cartoon Network back in January. Toting a brand-new, computer-generated art style, the premiere brushed some fans the wrong way, but opened the door for new Powerpuff materials. Radian Games’ newest title is The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville, a Metroidvania where Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup roam various areas fighting robots and rediscovering their powers. Nostalgic, playful, and fun, Defenders of Townsville pleases both PPG fans and casual gamers looking for a slightly more involved gaming experience.
Mojo Jojo, the eternal arch-enemy of the Girls, blasts them with a ray that makes them forget all of their powers…how convenient for the beginning of a Metroidvania! You’ll begin play as Buttercup without any of the special abilities: eye-lasers, streaks of light trailing behind you, or even the ability to fly. As you roam through the various rooms you’ll grab orbs to restore your lost powers, as well as additional booster modules to augment your speed, damage, and health. I was skeptical of how the game would feel after I gained my flight, but the level design and controls make sure that there’s always room to maneuver and dogfight using the Powerpuffs’ special abilities.
It takes more than sugar, spice, and everything nice to defeat Mojo’s army of evil robots, and the Girls pack a real punch from the onset. In addition to melee attacks, the girls have access to three special attacks, each of which drains the power gauge: a basic energy wave meant for general combat, eye lasers that do concentrated damage to a single enemy, and a specialty attack. Buttercup’s Shockwave pierces enemies and walls, Blossom’s Fireball splits into two and does heavy damage, while Bubbles’ Ice Barrage splits into three shards of ice bolts. With an upgrade, each attack can be charged to unleash a storm of attacks on foes. Once you’ve rescued a girl you can switch freely between any of girls you have, all of them sharing the same health and energy bar. This allows you to freely navigate the corridors and get through any special blockades that require a particular girl’s attack.
Some of DoT’s best qualities show in its attention to detail and design. The game keeps both gamepad and keyboard users in mind by mapping left attack and right attack to two different buttons. This allows you to fly in one direction and shoot in the opposite, even though it unfortunately doesn’t provide the full freedom that a dual-stick configuration would have allowed. Each of the four different sections in the game (caves, laboratory, city skyscraper, and sewers) have their own identifiable backdrops and level layout, making the sections feel unique. Also, the game brings challenge for both kids and adults; after clearing the game on normal with little difficulty, I figured that I would breeze through a “hardcore” playthrough…I didn’t. Increased boss difficulty and enemy prevalence make the Hardcore mode challenging even for core gamers. Top that off with a New Game+ mode that “remixes” the game’s dungeons and you have a game great for both newcomers to the Powerpuff Girls and veteran fans, though the vets definitely get a much bigger payoff.