Only two games got me through my tweens: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and Family Guy Video Game! The latter I spent hours attempting to complete but couldn’t. For a while, I assumed I was the problem and not the game. I was wrong.
Family Guy Video Game! is a licensed video game that seemed good on paper but was a mess once executed. Regardless, there’s plenty to enjoy from the hit TV series’ first video game, but you'll need to squint to find it.
Upon Take-Two Interactive getting the rights to Family Guy, their subsidiary, 2K Games, appointed developer High Voltage as the studio that would work on the game version of the beloved animated sitcom. Gamers and fans alike received their first glimpse of the game at E3 2006, with mixed reactions. Those mixed feelings would continue as the Family Guy Video Game! inched closer to its Q4 2006 release date.
Three's a crowd
In Family Guy Video Game! you follow the plots and play as Stewie, Brian, and Peter Griffin, whose animations are reminiscent of the show but who all have different play styles. Stewie’s levels comprise platforming and shooting. Unfortunately, the game's fixed camera made these mechanics challenging and the shooting of enemies quite difficult. Stewie has a lock-on system, but with the fixed camera, you aren’t sure if you’re shooting or missing the target. In addition, a few segments with Stewie are a hassle to get through, such as the swimming portions, where Stewie only moves at one speed and has imprecise movements.
Another important note: Stewie needs to upgrade his ray gun. Throughout the level, there are yellow bolts you can pick up to upgrade your weapon to maximum power.
After the game introduces you to Stewie, you move on to Brian. In his missions, he sneaks and hides with stealth mechanics to find out why they framed him for impregnating dog race champion Seabreeze. I won’t lie, Brian’s sections are tedious. You’re unaware if enemies will spot you, and thus his segments become an exercise in trial and error, which would feel much simpler if the game didn’t make you restart the segment each time you failed. Not even the invisibility Brian gains during a mini-game can save him.
And speaking of mini-games, they’re akin to the couch gags in the game but interactive. Most of the mini-games are jokes from the show, and it’s nice to see them in game form, but High Voltage could’ve come up with original material for Family Guy Video Game! (each time I spell out the title, it makes less sense). The developers have all the original voice cast reprising their roles; they can write new material. Regardless, with some of the new material we get, it’s only a picture of a stick figure with a button press.
Moving on to Peter, his levels encompass beat ’em ups, where he attacks and pile-drives kids and the elderly, only because he believes ’80s character Mr. Belvedere has corrupted everyone in Quahog. Peter beating up innocent people is entertaining, but it wears out quickly.
Out of the three characters, Peter is the most challenging to use. You aren’t sure when he will register a hit, leaving you fighting the enemy until the game decides you should defeat them. Further, Peter uses the same fight style and moves throughout the game, making the levels tiring and repetitive. Peter has a meter that can expand once he picks up food floating from the ground or beats it out of pedestrians.
The gameplay may be challenging, but what about the comedy? Again, like the TV show, the jokes are hit and miss. One of the notable jokes is a mime covering an invisible wall, and the hospital sections have jokes of questionable taste that are otherwise hilarious.
With all that said, Family Guy Video Game! may keep you entertained for a few hours, or you may chuck your remote at the TV after ten minutes of in-game time.
The worst of them all
Since I played this game as a kid, I didn’t realize my disdain for it. I always viewed it as a weird game, which sometimes made me laugh, but not one of the worst video games ever.
Now that I’m older, I realize that Family Guy Video Game! is subpar. The levels are a tad bit enjoyable but become lackluster in parts. The sections with Brian will get on your nerves, given the flimsy stealth mechanic. I can say the same about Peter, as you’re unsure if your attacks will register. By far, Stewie has the best segments in-game. The developers can build on this framework and improve the predecessor for future installments. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse adds those elements and was a better game for it.
In the end, how much you enjoy the show will dictate how much of the game you can tolerate playing. If you're not a fan of the series, you’ll be hard-pressed to enjoy the game. Yet, if you’re a fan, perhaps some amusement will come your way and let you put up with the poorly aging graphics and difficult gameplay mechanics.
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