Home Review - Stuart Little 2 (PS1)

Review - Stuart Little 2 (PS1)

Stuart Little 2 for the Sony PlayStation
Developer: Magenta Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Year: 2002


The brief

It’s 6 levels that’ll take you about 20 minutes each to understand each and collect everything, concluded by a lacklustre boss. Inoffensive until it ends.

The first (and last) impressions

This just randomly came on my radar as a collect-a-thon game developed by the same people as Muppet Monster Madness (a game I have streamed before), but it’s been probably 20 years since I last saw Stuart Little 2, and I cannot for the life of me remember what even happens in it. Popping in the game you’re greeted with a very basic menu with Stuart in his little car, followed by a rather simple 3D platforming tutorial with the bird (named Margalo) giving you a tutorial on how to play. It controls very similarly to Muppet Monster Madness with running mapped to R1, a spin attack mapped to Circle, and a throw button mapped to Square. The throw items are effectively just an ammo you pick up, and I never found I was running out of them since you just loosely point at an enemy, press Square, and see it go down in one hit. You also get the usual platforming tropes of climbing walls with pink handprints on them, climbing up ropes, swimming, and double-jumping. Nothing offensive, just nothing exceptional.

After the tutorial you’re immediately thrust into the first level, the Downstairs. There’s a few rooms to navigate, and you’re immediately bombarded with feedback on collecting things. To put it simply, there are 80 fish biscuit items in the level; you collect at least 60 of them, and deliver them to a red cat bowl to reveal a piece of jewellery (effectively the game’s Power Stars, crystalised dragon, whatever you believe the main collectable is). There are also 6 blocks with Stuart’s face on it, which, when all collected, open up a pathway at one corner of the level to another piece of jewellery. There’s a key that opens a yellow chest with, you guessed it, one piece of jewellery. There’s one piece chilling out somewhere in the level, and lastly, there’s two challenges (similar to Spyro 2’s side challenges), both giving a piece of jewellery. Just to top it off, there’s a special movie clip hidden in each level that doesn’t contribute towards anything other than giving you a movie clip.

Now the game doesn’t really explain this ahead of time, so I got a little confused because I was greeted by a tutorial where Snowbell (the cat) would take me from one level to the next after I had picked up enough pieces of jewellery), which can either be triggered by the menu or from the various pink tokens situated in the level. But Snowbell also supposedly trades the fish biscuits for a piece of jewellery at one specific part of the level. It took me until level 3 before I accidentally walked next to the red cat bowl and triggered the sequence to convert the fish biscuits for the jewellery. Fortunately, returning to a previous level keeps everything unlocked, so I could easily pick up the remaining things I had missed.

The minigame challenges are rather uninteresting due to their brevity. A couple of the challenges are these ones where you’re on a toy track of some kind, leaning to sides of the train to pick up stars to continue the game (and reaching the end gives you the jewellery). Some others involved flying a plane (by steering only left and right) to pick up stars, some are on a skateboard, some just involve running through checkpoints in a time limit, and some involve a boat. They’re not particularly interesting or hard. I also noticed on one level the description said to pick up all 25 stars, before being prompted and required to pick up 30 of them instead. They just feel slapped on, but they’re also the only bit of variety the game really has.

Because each of the six levels plays exactly the same. You try to get your bearings, but ultimately every level consists of a number of rooms connected via some openings, and most of the interesting stuff involves climbing up each of these rooms and following the trails of fish biscuits until you reach some kind of dead end. Repeat for each room, and then backtrack a bit around after you’ve picked up the face blocks and the keys. After the Downstairs level, you visit Central Park (which has a surprising number of high walls around you), the upstairs of the house, the sewers (complete with electrified beams), an alley way, and a…garbage ship? But they all feel so similar because the perspective is rather close to the ground, and most of the levels share the same generic enemies of insects and spiders. And occasionally a toy robot. In the sewers of all places.

The weird other parts of the game

Since the game felt a bit repetitive, I started focussing on some other aspects of the game. The actual character of Stuart Little is very well modelled for a PS1 title, but the environments are rather simple in design, and you’ll frequently see incredibly basic surroundings in the distance. On a handful of the levels including the final boss, you’re in a vehicle where the ground is entirely a flat colour, and the background is an incredibly low LOD model of something (a city? A wall? I’m not sure). It looks hideous and incomplete. Stuart’s voice acting is quite bizarre; it doesn’t sound like Michael Fox, and you’ll hear the same voice lines of “hurgh” every time you double jump and “I’ve collected enough cat biscuits for Snowbell to trade with Monte” every time…well you know. Margalo also chimes in whenever you’ve collected another piece of jewellery or a face block, which happens…36 times in the game. If the game takes 3 hours, that’s on average every 5 minutes.

The music probably shares the same composer as the Muppet Monster Madness game, but it’s bizarrely dramatic using MIDI orchestral sounds all over the place. None of it is crazy memorable; I kept being reminded of the Toy Story 2 PS1 game (which also shares some of this game’s menu presentation). I can’t recall if Stuart Little ever had a theme song, but it’s also impossible to know because very bizarrely the FMV sequences between levels do not have any music. It has the dialogue and sound effects from the film, but it goes completely silent whenever there should only be music playing, giving it a very surreal feeling during scenes like the ending when Margalo leaves. It’s just silent. I also thought it was strange how out of order the FMV sequences were; level 5’s FMV had the scene where Stuart meets Margalo while driving, which, in the game, has already happened after Margalo gave you a tutorial and was in every level, and in the FMV sequences, had already been injured and watched Stuart go down a drainpipe.

The first and final boss is against Falcon, the evil bird guy, who’s chasing Margalo. You fly a plane, pick up batteries, and then press X to dash forward and hit him. You’re supposed to also dodge obstacles and do some laps, but I seemed to pick up enough batteries and defeat Falcon before I even made a lap around the obstacle course.

The conclusion

Overall this game came and went so quickly. Games like this is exactly why I wanted to write these kinds of brief reviews; because the shorter experiences would disappear so quickly from my memory that I’d barely even remember what they were. And, as a game that took just under 3 hours to completely beat with no prior knowledge of it in any way, it was effectively a blip; something I played and I’ll probably never play again. The bad parts are mostly just small tid-bits like the visuals being rather weak for a PS1 game (and especially one that came out in 2002, which isn’t it strange this is the only version of the game out there?), or the difficulty being way too easy. But it also was not uniquely fun in any way; it only serves as a curious thing to note and compare to. It played fine, and was competent at what it set out to do, but it was so unambitious that it feels a bit insulting that people would’ve paid some amount of money to own this, only to be done with it in just as much time as the actual movie itself. I’d probably say just watch that instead.

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