LOS ANGELES--We got our hands on the playable PlayStation 2 version of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, a game from Midway based on the popular Cartoon Network show of the same name. Though the misadventures of the goofy kid, his mean-spirited friend, and their companion, the Grim Reaper, sound like they would lend well to an action adventure game, the playable portion of this demo, which is available outside the convention center's main doors (ostensibly for anyone to get their hands on), was only multiplayer. The game takes a number of cues from Capcom's classic Power Stone games. You can select one of the four main characters--Billy, Mandy, Grim, and Irwin--and jump into an up-to-four-player brawl. Though only the four were selectable, there were a number of other characters from the show visible on the character select screen.
Gameplay occurs in an enclosed arena in a number of different environments. We saw an Egyptian-themed tomb, a room that resembled the inside of a dojo, and an outside wooden-fort level. In fact, we saw all three of these levels in the same game, since, as you combat, new areas will open up, and you can adjourn to a new location to continue the fight.
The gameplay mechanics are pretty straightforward. You have both light and heavy attacks, as well as the ability to jump and double jump around the level. Execute a double jump near a wall, and you'll wall-jump, even up onto a platform if it makes sense. The fourth face button on the controller is used to pick up and drop weapons that spawn all around the level. In fact, this is how the game most resembles Power Stone--you'll probably spend as much time gunning for the treasure chests as you spend facing your opponents. Treasure chests contain either the previously mentioned weapons, health pickups in the form of cupcakes and hamhocks, or purple orbs that fill up your mojo meter. It might take some time, but once you've filled up your mojo meter twice, you can execute a mojo attack, which is an instant kill for the other player.
Though the weapons seem to offer good reach, they aren't always better than the bare-fisted attacks. The regular attacks can be chained together to create simple combos, and you can execute a ground pound by attacking while in midair. That seems to be the most effective method of causing damage, other than a well-placed hit with an axe or club, that is. There's a little bit of environment interaction--you can bust open breakable objects and deform certain items on the levels. On the fort level, there was also a ballista that you could jump into to fire spikes at the opponent. Being seated on the machinery might put you at a slight disadvantage, but there is surely a benefit to having such powerful weaponry at your disposal.
With two players engaged in combat, we were visited by additional computer-controlled characters, one of which looked quite a bit like the old comic hero Hagar the Horrible. Those characters offer additional challenge, and they seem to go after both players equally, although more often than not they just get in the way.
The game seems to be aimed at a younger audience, although it was entertaining for the few minutes we were able to play it. We'll update you as information on this game is made available.