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Wall-E Member Review for the DS

By:
cdn_dude
07/30/08
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Platformer 
PLAYERS 1- 2 
PUBLISHER THQ 
DEVELOPER Heavy Iron Studios 
RELEASE DATE  
E Contains Comic Mischief

What do these ratings mean?

The main reason Pixar movies are so revered is that they are able to appeal to both adults and children at the same time. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the games based on these movies. Wall-E follows in the path of many cartoon adaptations before it--taking the wholesome aesthetic and crafting a trivial game around it while ignoring a large part of the film's audience in the process. The mechanics in Wall-E are accessible enough that children eager to spend more time with the lovable robot will find an inviting world, but the end result is too short and predictable to provide value for any platforming veterans.

The story in Wall-E is about friendship and flowers. Like in the movie, you start off as a lone robot on a dirty planet, left to clean up the trash of thoughtless generations after the humans bolted for cleaner pastures. The first level is quiet and desolate. It's not often that platformers present a world without any enemies in sight, but the early parts of Wall-E exist to highlight his severe loneliness--and that weight comes across quite powerfully. Wall-E eventually meets up with a flying robot named Eve and gets to experience space travel first hand. The cutscenes are well done, telling most of the tale through gestures and robot groans that give a lot of personality to the mechanical beings. Though the cinematics were not taken directly from the film, they are still carefully crafted to express the subtleties of Wall-E and Eve's wide range of emotions. The environments are inviting and eye-pleasing, though they are sometimes too sparse, especially in the space station levels.

The quiet energy of the first few levels doesn't lead to action packed gameplay, but it still provides a few thrills. Your time on Earth is spent navigating through elaborate obstacle courses. As Wall-E, you can jump and make tiny cubes of trash that you can hurl at targets. Shaking the Wii Remote to pick up cubes isn't exactly intuitive, but it doesn't detract from the action. There is a variety of different garbage types--heavy, magnetic and explosive--but the puzzle solving is extremely light. The key is always next to the locked door, so navigating this filthy world is very straightforward. The platforming elements are a little more complex, forcing you to climb walls vertically and even upside down with your magnetic bottom, but the paths are always linear so any sort of directional acumen is left by the wayside.

The Eve sections follow the accessible path displayed in the Wall-E portions, but they spice up the action a bit. Eve is able to fly around the environment at will, which turns out to be surprisingly fun. There are two types of flying sections: open air and tunnel races. In the open, you have to search for plant life and other collectables hidden on the surface. The freedom of flight works well here because the controls are so responsive. It's easy to fly through pipes and under bridges, but the lack of imagination in these objectives is disappointing. The levels are ultra streamlined so it removes any challenge from the scavenger hunts and the space is too confined to make racing interesting for long. It's a shame the developers couldn't have expanded on this section because the act of flight is really well done.

The shooting sections make up the final gameplay type, which occur late in the game. Once in the spaceship, you have to fight your way through a small army of robots. The hectic pace and destructive violence seems out of place here compared to the rest of the game. You can pull the camera in over your shoulder and mow down robots with quick aiming, or you can point at the screen from your normal viewpoint to nail baddies while running around. The targeting is ultra tight, making quick work of your enemies before you have time to worry about your health dropping. The sheer number of foes you'll have to face here make these sections too long and repetitive, though. When the simple joy of platforming and flying is replaced by nonstop shooting, the game loses much of its charm.

There are a number of movie related unlockables, but the rewards aren't compelling enough to demand a second play-through. The multiplayer mode is only good for a quick taste before it loses its appeal. There is just something unsettling about taking part in a deathmatch with four happy Wall-Es wheeling around with laser guns. The main adventure can be finished in less than 10 hours, and after you play through the story once, there just isn't much reason to go back again.

The presentation is the only part of Wall-E that separates it from the glut of other platformers out there. The different gameplay mechanics offered by Eve and Wall-E provide some variety in this adventure, but the ideas are never fully fleshed out. This is still a fun game for anyone anxious to spend more time with the garbage-making robot, but there isn't enough


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