When cartoons make their television debut most of them usually don’t stick around for too long. Sure you have the cartoons such as the SouthPark series that have appeared for numerous seasons, but there are also some that don’t seem to hit it off and may end up cancelled after two or three seasons.
We’re sure that when Alex Toth created the original Birdman for Hanna-Barbera in 1967, no one dreamed that the Birdman legacy would live on for forty years, but here he is. Birdman, has his own show where he apparently kept up with the changing times and plays the role of a defense attorney along with other Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters throughout the years.
When you think about the term ‘defense attorney,’ you tend to think of a guy who is dressed in a nice suit and who generally can’t fly, but that is where Harvey Birdman separates himself from the rest of the lawyers. Sure, Mr. Birdman is well dressed too, but who doesn’t want the ability to fly, stop crime the judiciary way, and have their own video game?
In all actuality, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law isn’t really a video game at all, but more like an interactive television show. The title features five new episodes, or court cases, that you interact with as you progress through the game. Each episode takes a roughly forty-five minutes to complete so while these aren’t the fifteen minute cases we see on TV, the game is still relatively short only taking four or so hours to complete.
The title not only lacks in length, but also features very limited gameplay. Pretty much all you do throughout the game is push the ‘X’ button to go to the next scene. This really isn’t the fault of the developers because there is not much you can do gameplay wise in a game genre such as this. Despite this, there are gameplay elements implemented in the game such as searching for clues in a homeless person’s bathroom, popularly known as a potted plant. Unfortunately the clues are so obvious that it really doesn’t take any thinking at all to find them.
The overall gameplay focuses more on investing and trying cases. During your time investigating you may find yourselves going to different locations to search for evidence and talking to other cartoon characters trying to get information. The courtroom has more thinking involved but in general, you’re pretty much doing the same thing as you did during your investigation. While a witness is on the stand, you may do things such as press a witness on their statement or present evidence that will backup or refute the witness’ testimony. If you happen to get stuck, pushing the ‘select’ button will bring up all the testimonies to help you choose an appropriate piece of evidence. When the trial begins, you are given five crests and each time you present the wrong piece of evidence, you lose a crest. Lose all five and it’s game over, but no worries as the game saves itself right before the case starts.
Harvey Birdman the video game excels exactly where the television show excels; the writing. Like the show, the game features numerous Hanna-Barbera classic cartoon characters in wacky law-breaking situations in which case, Harvey Birdman comes in as their defense attorney to try and have them acquitted. One time, even Harvey is the victim in a case and assigned to defend himself accused of the crime. That’s the sign of a true champ right there.
The characters within the game are also accompanied by their original voices, with the exception of Stephen Colbert, and by original, we don’t mean their classic voices but more so the voices of the TV show on Cartoon Network. This helps bring the feel of the TV show into the actual title at play.
Not only is the writing exceptional, but the visuals within the game are just as great. The game copies the artistic nature of the show flawlessly. If you happen to be watching an episode of the television show on your PSP and then watched a scene from the video game, you wouldn’t notice any difference in the way that the characters and objects are drawn.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law the video game is a classic example of cartoons trying to make it in the video game world. While most others generally fail at this attempt, Harvey Birdman the video game easily averages better than the rest. With video game bombs such as Fairly Oddparents: Shadow Showdown or SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis, it’s nice to see a cartoon based game that can be truly called a game.