Have you ever been watching “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” on Cartoon Network, and felt the need to click something? Did you become annoyed when you tried the remote, only to find you were no longer watching the same show? Do you wish your TV shows had the illusion of involvement?
This is the game for you.
“Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” is only sort of a video game. It is expensive like a video game, and it can only be played on a console, like a video game, and there is the occasional opportunity to click something, like a video game, but this is where the similarities end. “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” is a TV show, and the version for Wii is a vaguely interactive TV show.
The game is a takeoff of Capcom’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney,” using the characters from Cartoon Network’s “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.” In trying a case, you’ll have to collect evidence, press witnesses, present evidence at the right time and just generally perform very basic acts of clicking so that the TV show will keep playing.
The amount of time you spend actually doing anything is negligible. In the evidence-collecting phase, you don’t even move from place to place — you just click “move,” and the game presents a different static image. See someone? Click “talk”! See anything at all? Click “examine”! What you’re supposed to do is a challenge only for the very drunk.
Once you get to the courtroom, the correct path is always either fantastically simple or frustratingly obtuse. You only get six tries at presenting evidence for a whole trial, so if you don’t get it the first six times, you have to watch everything up to the point where you screwed up all over again.
Of course, if what you want is a vaguely interactive version of Harvey Birdman, then that’s what this is. The show takes a “third-rate superhero turned third-rate attorney” and makes him defend and prosecute the more sordid characters in the Hanna Barbara universe. Secret Squirrel is an exhibitionist, Fred Flintstone is a mob boss, Race is locked in a savage custody battle with the Doctor over Johnny Quest. Peter Potamus is not an arsonist, though he is a drunk and a womanizer, despite having no fingers.
If you think it’s funny to see Harvey Birdman defend Booboo against Frezoid’s prosecution in the court of the Mindtaker, or if you like drinking, you probably already like Harvey Birdman. I like both, and so I had a pretty good time with this game.
While Stephen Colbert was not present as Reducto, the rest of the cast is here for the video game. Gary Cole is fantastic as the incompetent Birdman, giving us lines like “As you can plainly see, that man is on fire, and so this is not a trick lighter.” Lewis Black makes a cameo as the Deadly Duplicator, who owns a local copy shop/cloning business.
The game is not without its moments. When someone throws a baby out the window, you’re given the option to “save baby.” If you click it, there’s a shot of the baby falling and Harvey futilely waving his arm saying, “Gotcha!” It also turns out there is nothing funnier than a gay cow. When the game starts, Harvey is doing a crossword puzzle. The game asks you, “What’s a seven-letter word for long and hard?” If you select “arousal,” Birdman says, “Hmmm… what does long and hard have to do with arousal?” His assistant, Peanut, responds, “Well, Harvey, if you don’t know the answer to that by now, you never will.”
Unfortunately, creator Williams Street seems to be saving its best stories for the show itself, and so none of the cases here as are funny as the show’s best. In the end, this is a DVD with five slightly longer-than-usual episodes of Harvey Birdman on it, except you have to pay more, it can only be played on a Wii and sometimes you have to click things. At $40, there just isn’t enough game or enough TV show to make it worth it.