Flushed Away for the Nintendo DS is a side-scrolling adventure game based on the animated movie of the same name. In it, players juggle control between two streetwise rats, Roddy and Rita, and explore roughly a dozen levels in search of the items necessary to repair Rita's boat and deliver Roddy back to his cushy life outside the sewers. The game doesn't do much to break out of the standard run-and-jump mold, but the 3D graphics and explorative level layouts should keep the movie's fans interested long enough to see the game through to its speedy conclusion.
In terms of atmosphere, the game does a decent job of emulating the tone and style of the movie. Each level has its own toe-tapping music, and the characters emit a variety of zany sound effects when they move or take damage. There isn't a whole lot of recorded speech, but the yelps and one-liners that are in there are amusing and appropriate. Visually, the levels scroll from left to right like the levels in most 2D platformers do, but the characters and environments are rendered with 3D polygons and textures. Because of that, the sewers and buildings in the game look similar to the sewers and buildings from the movie, and the characters all have the same clay-sculpted appearance. Character animation is smooth, and their movements are generally fun to watch. Another especially nice touch is the way the camera and environment sometimes turn to follow the character, instead of always just displaying the same old left-to-right movement. Games like Klonoa and Tomba on the PlayStation employed a similar effect to make their 2D gameplay feel three-dimensional, and Flushed Away succeeds here. Of course, everything looks 10 times smaller and rougher on the Nintendo DS, thanks to its tinier screen and limited 3D capabilities, but that's to be expected.
As far as actually playing the game goes, a good way to describe it would be to say that it's Mario with a dash of Castlevania thrown in. The levels are the typical side-scrolling sort, with paths to run across, platforms to jump between, and deadly pits to fall into should you fail to land on something solid. There are also enemies to deal with, in the form of the many rats, frogs, and slugs that, for various reasons, don't like Rita and Roddy very much. They're not a huge nuisance, however, since the characters can absorb five hits before losing a life and the game lets you continue as often as you want. Roddy and Rita can both run, jump, and double-jump, as well as stun enemies for a short time by giving them a good, hard smack. The two characters are mostly identical, although they each have a unique special ability. Roddy can use his head to smash through certain obstacles, whereas Rita can grab onto and swing across suspended hooks using her bungee rope. The levels are designed so that either character can get through them, but there are spots in some levels that can only be accessed using a certain character's special ability. You can swap between the two characters at any time just by going back to Rita's boat.
What's interesting about the game is that the levels aren't strung together in linear fashion. You don't go from one to the next, like you would in most platformers. Instead, the levels are interconnected in such a way that each level opens into two or three others. Because of this, players are frequently backtracking through previous levels and hunting down entrances to spots that haven't yet been explored.
The game also occasionally diverges from the side-scroller formula by mixing players up in a minigame, boat chase, or boss battle. There are three different minigames, which, unlike the main game, actually make use of the system's built-in touch screen and microphone. In the soccer match minigame, for example, you have to blow into the microphone to kick the ball past the goalkeepers. Boat chases are only slightly more complicated. Whenever you find a new map hidden in a level, you'll unlock a boat-chase mission. In these missions, you have limited control over Rita's boat, the Jammy Dodger, as it steams its way through the sewer. Your job is to keep the boat in one piece by hopping over the trash and shooting at the enemies that appear. Boss battles, meanwhile, are the usual encounters against supercharged enemies that you've come to expect from these sorts of games.
If there's any major problem with the game, it's that it is over too soon. You'll spend a good hour or so figuring out how the levels are connected and where certain warps are, but once you have the layout down it probably won't take you more than an hour on top of that to collect all of the boat upgrades and map disks you need. And, after you beat the game, there's really no compelling reason to play it again. The swanky 3D graphics and explorative layouts are good the first time through, but their allure isn't strong enough to bolster the simplistic run-and-jump design a second time. In that respect, Flushed Away for the Nintendo DS is a decent movie-based game that, for better or worse, seems to have been developed for players who don't want or need to devote a ton of time to playing video games.