The Nintendo DS rendition of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a prime example of why video games based on movies tend to get a bad rap. This collection of side-scrolling levels, shoot-'em-up stages, and boss battles gives the distinct impression that the developer just quickly threw some levels together then shoehorned the characters in at the last moment. Roughly half of the game involves jumping between platforms and beating up generic enemies. With the exception of a couple of key levels and scenes, the story centers around characters and events that weren't even in the movie. On top of that, you can complete the whole game and unlock every bonus in well under two hours.
Roughly half of the game's 20 levels are traditional side-scrolling stages in which you control one of the Fantastic Four members. As you walk through the stage, you'll have to jump over gaps, activate switches, and beat up on various alien or robot enemies. If you run out of health or fall into a bottomless pit, you'll have to start the level over. Each character has a unique superpower (for example, Sue can fly), but the levels mainly test your ability to jump over gaps and rapidly press the attack button. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about how the levels are put together. A surprise trap here and there guarantees that you'll have to go through some of the levels at least twice, though that's not a big problem because most levels barely take longer than a minute to complete. As for the enemies, they simply patrol their own small patch of ground or sky and attack intermittently when you get too close.
The remaining levels are vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up stages and split-screen boss battles. In the former, you control the Fantasticar or the Human Torch. Flying aliens and aircraft constantly appear on the upper screen, making their way to where you are on the lower screen. Your task is to dodge their bullets and shoot them down. Unfortunately, you only have a single-fireball-style attack, and you'll tire of it quickly. The boss battles are somewhat more engaging mainly because you have to use the touch screen to reflect the bosses' attacks. Dr. Doom or another bad guy stands on the upper screen and repeatedly hurls energy blasts toward you, which you then need to tap, slash, or encircle with the stylus before they hit your team members situated at the bottom of the touch screen.
As good as the boss battles are, they only last a minute or two, and there are only four of them total in the entire game. For that matter, the entire game can be finished in about an hour. You may be able to stretch that to 90 minutes if you bother to retry levels to achieve the A grades necessary to unlock all of the bonus comic book covers. This lack of content speaks to the overall lack of effort that the developers put into the game as a whole.
Most levels involve dull mountain locations, generic enemies, and throwaway plot points that weren't in the movie. All told, only a of couple levels and story scenes actually involve Dr. Doom, the Surfer, or Galactus. Visually, there's nothing here that the Game Boy Advance couldn't do. The characters look crisp, but they don't have a ton of animation. The backgrounds are also a litany of steel beams and stone walls interspersed with a few objects that you can smash. The comic-book-style artwork that appears between levels is nice, though it's always just a sequence of nonmoving images. For the audio, the developers did a great job with the dramatic, bass-thumping music. However, they didn't bother to record any character voices. The sound effects are also just a bunch of generic punch, laser, and crunch noises.
While there's nothing especially broken about the Nintendo DS version of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it's terribly short, and the gameplay is mostly uneventful. Also, the characters and story don't really jive with what transpired in the movie or what has happened in the long-running comic book series. It may not be the worst game ever, but it certainly isn't worth taking home.