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Lilo & Stitch: Experiment 626 PS2
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- A prequel to Disney's feature film, Lilo and Stitch, Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 terrorizes the galaxy in an all-out action-shooting adventure.
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Stitch is the only creature of his kind in existence. He is the result of an illegal genetic experiment by a mad scientist and is extremely mischievous. Disney's new animated film cruises onto PlayStation 2, bringing the movie experience into an interactive, action-packed world and right into your home. Join the mismatched pair Lilo, the sassy surfer girl, and Stitch, a small but powerful ultimate fighting machine, on an adventure around the beautiful island of Hawaii.
Stitch: Experiment 626 takes place before the Lilo & Stitch film begins, showing the massive space universe only hinted at in the movie. The player controls Stitch, using his powers to the fullest: climbing walls and ceilings, dashing with amazing speed, shooting up to four weapons at once (one in each hand), flying with the jetpack, and swinging using the grapple gun. The game features several of the film's memorable characters, including Jumba, Gantu, and Grand Councilwoman. Also, new characters have been created just for the game, including heavy soldiers, flying robots, rival mutants, and more. You will explore vast, colorful alien environments in 18 enormous levels, including Gas Giant, Alien Jungle, Jumba's Lab, and the Military Complex. The game invites you to partake in creative destruction on a grand scale. Almost everything in the world can be blown up or destroyed.See all Product description
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"Stitch: Experiment 626" is a 3D platformer based on characters from the 2002 animated Disney film "Lilo & Stitch", and is billed on the back of the case as a prequel to that film. As such, do not expect to see Lilo, Nani, or Pleakley in the game - though Stitch, Dr. Jumba Jookiba, Captain Gantu, and Dr. Habbitrale are all here.
## STORY ##
If you've never seen the "Lilo & Stitch" movie, here's a brief synopsis of the events that take place at the start of the film:
Dr. Jumba Jookiba is put on trial by the Galactic Order for illegal genetic experiments, including his latest creation, Experiment 626: an aggressive and cunning creature that is nearly indestructible. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is set to be exiled on a desert asteroid. However, 626 escapes during transport on Captain Gantu's ship. 626 hijacks a police spacecraft, but finding himself outnumbered and outgunned, activates the hyperdrive and eventually crash lands on Earth. The Grand Councilwoman orders Jumba to work with Agent Pleakley to recover 626 discreetly. 626 survives his crash landing, but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck, and is taken to an animal shelter because he is believed to be a breed of dog. Eventually a little girl named Lilo adopts him from the animal shelter and names him Stitch.
As this game takes place before those events, you'll see what Jumba did with Experiment 626 (aka Stitch) between the time of his "birth" and the time of his and Jumba's capture by the Galactic Order. The game presents the story through eight cutscenes, but it doesn't present it very well. At no point did I get a clear idea as to what the story was supposed to be. The manual actually presents the story better than the game does:
In a secret lab on a distant planet in a strange part of the universe, Experiment 626 is born. When he awakes, the now-inferior Experiment 621 is already there, watching jealously as the new 626 gets all of the attention and he is reduced to doing simple around-the-house chores. In another secret lab not so far away, Jumba's arch nemesis is hard at work on experiments of his own. The nefarious Dr. Habbitrale is racing to create mutants more powerful then anything cooked up in Jumba's lab. For his first test, 626 will make his way to Dr. Habbitrale's mountain hide-away and demonstrate that nothing is more powerful than Jumba's creations, and certainly nothing designed by Dr. Habbitrale. Meanwhile, Captain Gantu watches all of these proceedings aboard a gigantic military ship on the fringes of the galaxy. He is observing the activities of these scientists with a great deal of interest, waiting for them to cross the line. Perhaps their destructive little mutants will go a step too far this time... then it's a long, long stay in a very uncomfortable place for Jumba, Habbitrale, and their miserable little creations.
You control Experiment 626 as he takes part in a series of missions created by Jumba to test what his creation can do. In each of these, 626's chief goal is to collect DNA for Jumba to use in his ongoing genetic research, then reach the teleporter at the end of each level to return to the lab. 626 is fond of destruction, so along the way he will do his best to cause as much mayhem as possible, while still getting the job done. As 626 collects more DNA, more worlds will open for exploration...and destruction! Standing in the way will be many enemies: Buzzers, Mutant Greemas, Soldiers, Heavy Soldiers, and Frogbots. Bosses include Dr. Habbitrale in his giant robot, Experiment 621 (after being mutated), and Captain Gantu.
## GAMEPLAY ##
The game is a basic 3D platformer, with exploration, item finding, and fighting enemies. Although 626 has sharp claws, you will not use them at all to cause any sort of destruction. Instead, you'll be shooting your way through the levels with a Plasma Ray Gun, wielding up to four at once. While defeating enemies and blowing up as much stuff as possible, you'll also be collecting DNA to open additional levels, and finding hidden film reels to unlock videos in the Secrets section.
When you first start playing the game, the first thing you'll notice is that the camera and the controls conspire against you in an effort to make the game harder than it is. The camera constantly snaps behind 626, thus never staying where you'd want it to. You can control the camera, somewhat, with the right analog stick, but you can't move it around a full 360 degrees. You can only move it 180 degrees in each direction, and you need to hold the stick in place in order to see anything. Once you let go, it snaps right back behind 626. Pressing in on the right analog stick to have 626 face the same direction as the camera helps, as it's the only way to get him to turn without moving, but holding the camera in place with the stick and then pressing in on it is a bit awkward to do.
The biggest flaw with the controls is that you're *always* running - well, if you use the left analog stick to move 626, that is. You see, the d-pad is used for walking, and the left analog stick is used for running. Most people would use the stick to move around a character on-foot (does anyone even use the d-pad for character movement anymore?), so why they wouldn't implement true analog controls is beyond me. In order to get 626 to walk using the stick, you have to tilt it so ever-so-precisely slightly, that it's too annoying to bother with. Yet, if you use the stick alone, you'll be running around all the time, which will lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths.
Besides that, the controls will often change if the camera changes in relation to 626. If I hold the camera in front of 626 and press Down, he'll walk forward (towards the camera). If I let go of the right analog stick, and thus the camera snaps back behind 626, now I'll start walking in the opposite direction. This becomes frustratingly annoying when you're wall crawling upside down, as the controls will usually flip themselves mid-move. I'll be pressing Down to go forward while upside down on a horizontal surface, and once I get to a vertical surface the control for forward is now Up, even though I was still in the middle of moving forward. The boss fight against Experiment 621 (boss fight #2) was a pain in the butt because of this.
When I first started playing the game, I was suffering unnecessary deaths in just the first level thanks to this killer combination of crappy camera and cruddy controls. Mind you, I've been playing video games for over 25 years, and many of them have been 3D platformers, so I'm no beginner.
At strange as this sounds, you *will* get used to the poor controls and camera, though that doesn't excuse the developers from not doing a better job on both of them. After beating the game, I went back and replayed some of the earlier levels, and was able to breeze through them. That said, this isn't the type of game that should have a steep learning curve. I can't imagine many kids having the patience to get used to the game as much as I did.
Some of the annoyance is lessened by the fact that you have infinite lives (but not infinite health). Besides that, on all levels (including boss fights) your progress is not lost when you die; you'll just warp back to the last checkpoint you activated. Coupled with your infinite lives, it means you can keep going until you finally get to the end of the level or defeat the boss or get frustrated by the game and turn it off.
That said, health pick-ups (called Alien Toes, but they look like blue-green chicken drumsticks) are plentiful, and most enemies are pushovers, especially with the lock-on aim. Most of them can be defeated by going through the game with guns blazing. You have infinite ammo, and can wield up to four guns at a time, so it's only the enemies that are immune to gunfire that will present even the slightest bit of a challenge. Even then, you'll die most frequently from the platforming aspects of the game (especially due to the poor controls and camera), than you will from the enemies.
As I said, there's a lock-on aim function, but it only locks on to enemies. There is no manual aim. You can only shoot crates, crystals, tikis, etc., by blindly shooting in their direction. The easiest way to shoot them is to get right up next to them, but since you take damage from the explosions, that's not suggestible.
On each level you need to collect DNA in order to open up the other levels. DNA is plentiful, but some are placed in locations where you can only get them if you kill yourself. I don't understand why the level designers would do such a stupid thing. Thankfully, you don't need to collect all of the DNA in order to unlock all levels. You'll only need 640 of the 900 DNA strewn throughout the levels in order to unlock the last boss fight.
DNA isn't the only collectible in the game, though it's the only thing you need to gather in order to progress. Also hidden in each level are some film reels. Some are hidden, others will be given to you if you play a game of follow-the-leader/tag with the Squid Bots. The Squid Bots are these upright-standing blue whale/popcorn shrimp-looking things that are also hidden in each level. Find one, touch it, and then follow it to each location it stops at, and if you complete the chase, you get a film reel. That's all easier said than done because the Squid Bots do not stay in each place for very long. If you don't get to it before it disappears, you have to go back to the starting position and try all over again. You're supposed to use 626's Slow Motion ability to follow the Squid Bots, but the ability only lasts for a few seconds before you have to press the Slow Mo button again, and each usage drains your Slow Mo meter. So not only do you have to keep pressing the Slow Mo button, but chances are you won't have enough energy on the meter to last the entire chase.
Needless to say, after the first few times playing with a Squid Bot, you'll eventually find them too annoying to bother with and will ignore them completely. It's not like there's a great reward for getting the film reels, anyway. You use them to buy unlockable videos in the erroneously-named "Secrets" section ("Movies" or "Videos" is a better name as that's all that's in there). All of the purchasable film clips and trailers can all be found on the "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD (except for the theatrical trailer - which is unlocked from the start anyway), so there's no point in bothering to unlock them. You can buy the DVD really cheaply these days (especially used), and the PlayStation 2 can play DVDs, which makes getting the film reels in the levels and unlocking the videos all that more pointless. I picked up a copy of the DVD earlier this year for $4 in a thrift shop. I paid $10 for this game brand new. Guess which I'll get more enjoyment from?
Every level is pretty linear, but sometimes the game doesn't give you a clear idea as to where you're supposed to go. Level 4-4 ("Error #626") is one example. I couldn't figure out how to get out of the starting area. They gave me a grapple gun, but I couldn't get it to latch onto anything. There were pipes that it *should* have easily latched onto, but it didn't. After a half-hour of trying, I eventually got it to latch onto a coupling on the pipe, and then a coupling on another pipe, so that I could swing onto the ledge that lead out of the room - but only after I jumped onto one of the destructible purple/black yellow caution-striped devices, and then swung myself on top of the first pipe. I get the feeling that this wasn't the way the game designers intended this area to be passed, but it was the only way I could get the game to let me through.
On some levels you will be given a Grapple Gun or a Jetpack to get around, but only for those levels (you lose them once you exit the level). The grapple gun is fun, and provides a nice diversion from the usual jumping and double-jumping; the jetpack not so much. On the jetpack levels, you're told that you have to keep flying through rings - didn't Superman have to go through this nonsense in that crappy Nintendo 64 game? - in order to keep getting more jetpack fuel. What you're not told is that, in reality, you also have to keep flying through rings in order to NOT DIE! You're participating in a timed race without being told as much. So even if you decide to land somewhere and turn off the jetpack, with plenty of fuel left to keep going to the next ring, you're gonna be killed simply because you didn't go through the next ring before it closed. So much for exploring.
You exit each level by stepping onto a small teleporter pad. However, there's no confirmation to leave a level. Once you step onto the teleporter pad, that's it. Many times I accidentally stepped onto the pad before I got a chance to explore the area surrounding the pad for collectibles. On Level 3-3 ("Jungle Flight"), I jetpacked over the teleport pad without even knowing it was there - thus ruining my chance of getting the collectibles that were right next to it, unless I replay the level from the beginning (it was annoying enough to go through it the first time).
The game auto-saves when you exit a level via a teleporter pad, as well as when you exit the level through the pause menu's Level Select option. Exiting the level though the pause menu is the only way you can manually save your game, but when you go back into the level, you'll be back at the start, and not at the last checkpoint from where you left.
## AUDIO & VIDEO ##
The voice acting is top-notch as all of the actors from the movie reprise their roles here: Chris Sanders as Experiment 626/Stitch, David Ogden Stiers as Dr. Jumba Jookiba, Kevin Michael Richardson as Captain Gantu, the legendary Frank Welker as Experiment 621, and James Arnold Taylor as Dr. Habbitrale. Zoe Caldwell, who voiced the Grand Councilwoman in the movie, is listed in the cast, but her movie character does not appear in the game (except in the movie clips). Voice actress Jennifer Hale is also listed in the voice cast, but I don't know which character she voiced in the game (there were no female characters that I can recall).
The use of the voice samples can be rather hit or miss. As you play through the game, different characters will chime in with comments, but these comments rarely have anything to do with what's going on. Even worse, those clips repeat frequently!
None of the music from the movie is used in the video game, but since the game take place on exotic planets and space environments, and not Hawaii, I wouldn't have expected for the movie music to appear. There's some techno/rock music used, but I can't say that I paid much attention to it. All of the sound effects sound appropriate to their use, so no complaints there.
The graphics are serviceable, but lack the polish of later PlayStation 2 games. The game definitely looks like one that was made in 2002. When I first popped the game in, I thought the graphics were quite poor, but they grew on me. I still think the menu text looks very plain; very PlayStation 1-ish.
## MORE FLAWS & NOTES ##
-- 626 is supposed to be an ultimate force of destruction, but he does no hands-on destroying. With his four claws, he should be tearing apart the environments and the enemies. Instead, he uses his guns to destroy everything - like we haven't seen *that* many times before.
-- Standing too close to explosive crates (all destructible items?) while destroying them will take health away from 626. I thought he was virtually indestructible?
-- The Level Select menu tells you how much DNA you got, and still need to get, in each level, but gives you no information on the film reels. It's only when you complete a level (or exit through the pause menu's Level Select option) that you can see how many film reels you've obtained, and how many you still have left to find on that level. That means that unless you take notes and keep track while playing the game, you won't know what levels you need to go back to to get more film reels. How could the lack of this *essential* "feature" not be noticed during the testing phase of the game's production?!?
-- The game doesn't activate checkpoints unless you specifically go right over or next to them. This is a problem in areas where the game provides a path below the checkpoint. One example of this is Level 4-1, "Energy Lines", where you can easily grapple past a high checkpoint by taking the low path underneath it.
-- There are only 15 levels in the game (though most are kinda long), and only 3 boss fights. It won't take you very long to go through the whole game.
-- The last level before the final boss (Level 4-5, "Stitch In Space") is INSANE! It's one of those damn jetpack through the rings races, except you're in a very tight tunnel, the rings are really small, and you're not given enough time to go through them. Luckily, if you collect enough DNA to unlock the final boss, you don't have to bother with this level. Ironically, the final boss is extremely easy to defeat.
## REPLAYABILITY ##
The "Secrets" section contains the following unlockable videos: the "Lilo & Stitch" theatrical trailer; 21 clips from the "Lilo & Stitch" movie; 3 "Interstitchals" (clips from the "Lilo & Stitch" trailers in which Stitch invades "Beauty & The Beast", "Aladdin", and "The Little Mermaid"); and 8 in-game cinematics. The trailer is unlocked from the start and the in-game cinematics unlock as you play. The others can be purchased for 2 to 6 film reels each (you'll need 101 film reels to buy them all).
Here's the complete list of unlockable videos, along with their runtimes that I personally timed using a stopwatch. It kinda goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: If you have not seen the "Lilo & Stitch" movie, watching all of these film clips WILL spoil the movie for you. All of the non in-game cinematic videos are presented in 4:3 letterbox, thus preserving the original aspect ratios. The movie on the DVD is, of course, 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen.
01. Theatrical Trailer (2:17) [not on DVD]
02. Stitch's Trial (0:38)
03. Breaking Free (1:08)
04. Cruiser Chase (0:24)
05. Hyperdrive (0:34)
06. Pudge's Story (0:51)
07. This Is Scrump (0:52)
08. Meeting Bubbles (1:05)
09. Practical Voodoo (0:30)
10. Falling Star (0:21)
11. Arrival On Earth (0:41)
12. Meeting Lilo (0:26)
13. Adopting Stitch (0:28)
14. Bounty Hunters (0:35)
15. Ugly Dog (0:27)
16. Bike Ride (0:30)
17. Jumba Disguised (0:40)
18. Arriving Home (0:39)
19. Evil Koala (0:23)
20. Jumba Attacks (0:26)
21. Gantu's Ambush (0:58)
22. Exile On Earth (0:16)
23. Interstitchal 1: Beauty & The Beast (Trailer) (0:54) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
24. Interstitchal 2: Aladdin (Trailer) (0:54) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
25. Interstitchal 3: The Little Mermaid (Trailer) (0:51) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
26. In-Game Cinema 1 (0:42)
27. In-Game Cinema 2 (1:17)
28. In-Game Cinema 3 (0:28)
29. In-Game Cinema 4 (0:37)
30. In-Game Cinema 5 (0:57)
31. In-Game Cinema 6 (0:18)
32. In-Game Cinema 7 (0:20)
33. In-Game Cinema 8 (0:54)
Adding up all of the film clips (videos #2-#22), you get a total of 12:52 from a movie that runs 1:25:12 (DVD runtime). Adding up all of the in-game cinematics (videos #26-#33), you get a total of 5:33, which proves that not much time is devoted to the story. Adding up all of the trailers (videos #1, #23, #24, #25), you get a total of 4:56. Adding up everything, you get a total of 23:21 (minutes:seconds).
You can replay the levels to get missing DNA and film reels, but what's the point? Once you've gotten enough DNA to unlock all levels, why bother getting the rest? The film reels are even more pointless as there's no need to even bother collecting them at all (especially since some of them are extremely hard to get), as all of the videos that you can unlock with them (minus the theatrical trailer - which is unlocked from the start anyway) are available in better quality on the "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD (where the film clips are presented in the proper context). The "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD is available in the 1-Disc Original Edition (alt listing) and the 2-Disc Big Wave Edition.
As far as I'm aware, there's no special prize for getting all of the DNA and film reels (100% completion).
## TO BUY OR RENT? ##
Rent... and that's only if you like the non-human Lilo & Stitch characters.
If you decide that you want to play through this game, I guarantee you that you'll only want to play through it once, and will have no desire to play through it ever again.