E.T.K. - the extraterrestrial Koala.
Games based on movies are usually pretty bad, but the Disney games tend to at least be playable. Still, I'd really like to see a game that doesn't just repeat the movie. For example, Stitch: Experiment 626 is a 'prequel' to the movie Lilo and Stitch.
If Disney really had the nerve, they would have designed this game around the movie's clever marketing campaign. Known as 'Inter-stitch-als,' the commercials depict the cute-as-cancer Stitch invading other Disney movies, from dropping a chandelier on Beauty and the Beast to hitting on Princess Jasmine.
Instead, we get a game that references other classic games and does a half-decent job of tying them together. In this prequel, Stitch (who looks like a blue koala version of Max) is let loose to collect DNA and destroy everything around him.
Stitch can hold weaponry in four of his six appendages. Nearly everything can be destroyed - boxes, scientific equipment, giant out-out-place tiki-head statues - you name it. DNA, the collectible "coins" of this game, is often uncovered in these objects. While collecting DNA, Stitch lays waste to armadas of gentle, peace-loving alien bugs and stormtroopers.
There are parts in Experiment 626 that play like a three-dimensional Bionic Commando. Stitch can hold a grappling hook in one of his arms, enabling him to shoot out an energy beam that can attach itself to certain bars. Stitch can then swing his way around to other bars in order to make it through the large stages. In some of the other stages, Stitch can strap on a jetpack and blaze through loops. It's a fairly generic game device, but the quick pacing reminds me more of the speed bikes in Battletoads then the anemic Superman N64. Traditional platform elements are also squeezed in, but they're the least innovative and inviting gameplay style you'll find in the whole game.
Stitch also wields the power of bullet time, the ability to move faster than the world around him. He can jump up in the air, and then float in a moment of slowed time as he pinpoints his landing attack target to bounce on. He can avoid enemy fire while he dishes it back in a cartoon version of Max Payne.
Unfortunately, the bullet time is a touch glitchy. A few times in the first world, I would be dishing out fire when suddenly the grappling gun would shoot out followed by short momentary bursts of bullet time. Not only is it disrupting, but it eats away at Stitch's speed meter, which dictates how much he can access bullet time. Bullet time is also hampered by the lack of enemies, both in variety and quantity. It's not so fun slow-time jumping without having something to destroy.
The game features simplified 3D platformer style controls with a touchy and sometimes problematic camera. The right analog stick can be used for looking and re-centering, but it's cumbersome to use during play. The camera is just awful when it comes to fighting bosses and climbing up walls. I wish they had just gone all the way and given the game first-person style dual stick controls.
Scattered throughout the levels are Squid-bots, which provide race challenges. By activating one of these bots, you are led on a squid chase around small sections of the stage. When you finally catch up to the last Squid resting stop, you earn a movie reel that can later be used to purchase clips from the movie.
I've reviewed a lot of Disney games, and I think I can safely say that these clips are just like trailers that spoil the best parts of the movie. Thankfully, at least this time you aren't forced to watch the clips. Plus, it's good for little kids, though they would probably have a better time just watching the movie when it comes out on video.
The 'prequel' story of Stitch: Experiment 626 is told though small, moderate quality CG film clips. There isn't much - it involves Stitch's jealous brother known as Experiment 621, as well as a giant talking hamster. These sequences aren't really enough to build a decent full story and I really wish they worked more in, but at least they aren't repackaged FMVs.
The graphics are mixed. There are some areas that look visually impressive, with energy beams darting around vast alien ships. But in general, the look is inconsistent. Some objects are textured richly, while others look too flat. Some objects are cel-shaded with outlines while others are not. It's a strange look.
The sound is surprisingly fitting, with techno beats to match the wanton destruction of stuff. Stitch constantly makes these guttural noises. They verge on being annoying, but help keep the atmosphere of the movie.
Stitch: Experiment 626 is a touch on the more difficult side for the target age level, but in fitting with Stitch's indestructible nature, you get unlimited lives.
Stitch: Experiment 626 definitely gets points for creativity and inventiveness. It tries to bring together many disparate game ideas, but these ideas weren't pushed all the way and at the very least weren't polished enough for a final product. Movie games are on tight schedules to release on time with the movie's premiere, and this one seems a little rushed. It just lacked a good final once over. Stitch Experiment 626 stitches many game ideas together, but unfortunately, the thread is a bit loose.