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Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse (Windows 3.x)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Mr. Eight-Three-One (1507)
Written on  :  Jul 29, 2014
Platform  :  Windows 3.x
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars
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Summary

Forgettable may be the best way to put it

The Good

Previous review: Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo

Info and discussion: http://www.mobygames.com/forums/dga,2/dgb,5/dgm,197698/

For any of you who have been following my series of these reviews, the last three games were mostly praise-fests. This game is a bit of a combo breaker in that regard, unfortunately enough. I am not at all saying it's a bad game; it's the furthest thing from it. The thing is, though, it's not exactly common to hear, "Oh yeah, Freddi Fish 2! That's my favorite one!" I myself am a bit torn on this one; parts of it I enjoy, and other parts I don't. I certainly appreciate some of the improvements it made as it ironed out a lot of the awkwardness in the first game, but ultimately one issue makes the game rather forgettable.

Freddi and Luther prepare for an ordinary day of school, when it turns out a ghost is stealing the toys on show and tell day. Freddi, being the voice of reason, knows there is no such thing as ghosts, and that idea is quickly proven when it turns out it's just a ghost costume. In order to solve the issue, they plan on building a trap to catch the ghost in the form of a Rube Goldberg machine; the goal is to find the parts needed to finish it up.

The plot is sadly not as intriguing as one would think. Part of that comes from the fact that they just decided to (half-spoilers) recycle the villians from the first game. It would have worked a lot better, except they seemed to forget to keep the sharks in-character from the last game; Spongehead and Boss don't bicker with each other the way they used to and they're both equally terrified of the squidfather this time. Also, once you leave the schoolhouse, the game sort of forgets about the plot entirely and it becomes more of a fetch quest for parts. The first game had interlude cut scenes to tie back to the main story whenever you found a bottle; this game only has one for when you find the second-to-last trap part. I understand five cut scenes would have been overkill, but if they limited it to three or four I would have found the plot a lot easier to invest in.

The animation is a whole lot smoother after the first game. Freddi and Luther got a slight makeover in design, and the off-model moments are finally starting to disappear. I only recall one moment really making me cringe (the close-up with Eddie the Eel), so that's a huge plus. The animation is a lot more expressive as well. I seem to notice that they utilize a lot more close-up scenes in this game compared to the previous one to show a lot of gags. There's even some mild slapstick thrown in to the mix. This game may even have some of the best animation in any Humongous game just with the sheer variety and expressiveness of it.

The format of the game is a bit different now. Instead of collecting three of the same object, there are now five trap parts scattered around the area outside the schoolhouse. Just like the first game, the trap parts change on each play; there are eight parts overall. They also change the locations of the purple sea urchins this time, unlike the first game which had the same urchins in the same locations. This game also establishes the trend of only providing enough for what you need -- there will never be more than five urchins out on a single game.

The puzzles in this game are still on the easy side. Most of them have really obvious solutions and only require one item, and you will very likely have that item when you come across it. There are three I can think of that do require item chains though, and one that requires the purple sea urchins. One thing I do appreciate though is that, unlike most of the other games, you can occasionally use incorrect items and trigger a cut scene of the characters attempting to solve the problem using said item. The most popular is the worm doodle on the fishing hook; you can use no fewer than THREE incorrect items on it and Freddi will attempt to use it! Some of them can lead to pretty funny results.

The tone of the game has gotten a whole lot lighter compared to the first game; there are more relatable characters now and they present a more cheery personality. I don't know how many of them truly rival the characters from the first game though; in fact, there are two returning characters and I actually remembered them more than most of the others. This isn't helped by the fact that there is not a whole lot of dialog to mess around with. Luther got a bit of character development here though, and he no longer shows an egotistical side. He now plays the abuse taker and misinterpreter. For instance, when Freddi asks him to give her a hand at one point, he thinks she is asking for applause (it's quite a funny scene, you have to see it yourself).

One thing to note is that there is a pretty large amount of singing in this game. There are EIGHT SEPERATE OCCASIONS where you can click on something and the characters will break out in song. The other games occasionally had singing, but there was generally only one screen where it would happen. I have nothing wrong with songs, but I won't exactly say many of them are that memorable and it seemed a bit like overkill. If you're a kid who likes to poke around, maybe you'll get a kick out of it.

This is the first time we get to hear the musical talent of Tom McGurk in a Humongous game, and let's face it -- he's got some pretty stiff competition going on here. Video game legends Jeremy Soule and The Fat Man composing other games would make it sound like his would be a total downgrade, but it really isn't. His music is catchy and memorable, the kind you'll be humming quite a bit. It always suits the mood beautifully, especially in the cut scenes. Matter of fact, some of it even changes in mood dynamically as cut scenes progress. The very opening of the game even showcases it -- it's quiet as Freddi wakes up the crab, then the instruments kick in as the title screen forms. It's a seriously underappreciated soundtrack in my opinion. He may not carry the legendary status of the other guys, but he needs a lot more appreciation.

The minigames are a step up from Freddi Fish 1, but it's still a long way before they can be called memorable. There's a sliding puzzle with multiple pictures, but it's nothing worth coming back to. There is also a Space Invaders knockoff called Crab Invaders, where you control Luther and squirt water at incoming crabs. They progressively get faster with every level and later on a coconut crab starts hindering you by dropping coconuts. It's probably the most memorable one and I've heard tales of kids getting stuck on it for hours, but it's never something I found great. Finally, there is a chalkboard in the classroom with a bunch of stamps that is used as a simple drawing activity. Not much else to say.

Much like the last game, there is also a movie theater. It's got a different format, however -- the previous one was a physical theatre, while the one in this game is an actual cinema. Many of the movies are parodies or simple gags, but they're worth a watch and may leave you laughing. They even threw in a preview for Spy Fox in there!

The Bad

(hahahahahahaha no)

The Bottom Line

While it certainly makes a few improvements over Freddi Fish 1, I think a lot of things make this a rather unmemorable experience. The puzzles are too simplistic and the characters are a bit forgettable. This is only hindered by the wandering plot that only shows up every once in a while. It doesn't feature a whole lot of elements that make it a truly noteworthy entry in the Junior Adventure lineup as a result. The only unique thing this game sports is the hefty amount of singing, and since the songs really aren't that memorable, it doesn't do a whole lot. For what it's worth though, it's still a good play. Not worth the seven dollars in my opinion, but you might get something out of the game -- just make sure to prioritize some of the other games first.

In an attempt to broaden the scope of what the characters would be portrayed in, we're going to be seeing something completely different for the next four reviews -- a side lineup that has been glossed over by many fans, for better or for worse.

(Up next: Putt-Putt and Pep's Balloon-o-Rama)