Atlantis: The Not-Quite-So-Lost Game Translation.
It's interesting that Tomb Raider and Atlantis are tussling at the box office, since Atlantis for the Playstation is basically a Disney-fied Tomb Raider, sans the boobs. Hey, it makes much more sense than that idiotic PC first-person shooter Atlantis. This version offers up some kid-friendly adventuring that's ripe for the little Atlantis nut, though not very enticing for the over 12 crowd.
The story comes straight out of the movie theaters and follows a band of adventurers in their search for the lost city of Atlantis. So if you haven't seen the movie, then think of this game as one giant interactive spoiler.
The levels are relatively rote with a linear flow, balancing puzzles with action. The puzzles are typical, often involving finding, say, a gem and knowing to place the gem in a slot elsewhere in the level. Other puzzles involve utilizing the 6 different characters.
Different members of your Atlantis crew have different abilities and uses. Using the radios littered about the level, you can switch to the other characters available. At specific "hot zones," an exclamation mark will "ding" above your character's head, signaling that one of the characters has a task to complete. If there's a lake of hot magma in front of you, just get Vinnie the explosives expert to blast an ancient pillar into a handy dandy bridge. Or if there's a different colored spot on the ground that looks mighty suspect, assign Gaetan Moliere, the Mole, to dig away. I must note that watching this Mole guy waddle around with his dinky little legs is a hoot. But somehow, I think most people will still prefer to stare at Lara's backside.
The level design does harbor some bits of originality here and there. One sequence involves working your way through a completely dark room with nothing but a flare gun to light your way. The fired blasts of the flare act as moving light sources which offer much needed illumination. Why couldn't the entire game be this innovative?
The high points of the game take place during the vehicle stages. They're simple but with the right amount of action. One of the vehicle scenes involves shooting this impressive, well-animated Leviathan, and then hightailing it away through some tunnels. Another one of these stages takes you across a collapsing highway amidst an attack of blazing fireflies. The vehicle stages are just cool.
The Atlantean creatures aren't too keen on explorers and will try to smack or spit on you. Their AI is pretty limited; they either run at you or lob something damaging your way, but your offense is equally inane. Stand in place, look towards your foe, and lob a few of your character's weapons at it. This game could have benefited from some Zelda target locking. I think even kids will ask for a little more action to this adventure.
At the very least, there are some pretty wacky death animations in here. A monkey monster will clutch his chest and spin around. A multi-legged worm will turn over and kick his feet up at the sky. Good to see that someone out there has a sense of humor.
This game is very easy and too short for me, but I think it' just about right for its intended age level. The radios in the levels double as save points, meaning plenty of chances to save. Plus, the game deluges you with lives and health to keep it easy.
The characters are cel-shaded and the environments follow suit, implementing a solid toon scheme to match the movie. Outdoor environments look dull and lifeless, but when the game ventures into dark caverns, the graphics hop up a notch. The flickering of lit torches and the shimmering of the water adds some spice.
Like all games based on Disney movies, there are movie clips between levels. The video has been edited down to meet the size limitations, and, like the entire game, it all seems to be geared towards people who have already watched the movie.
Following suit, the music has been taken from the film, which is good since it's above average and fits the game well. And there are truckloads of audio clips from the movie, with a good substitute voice for Michael J. Fox's Milo character.
Atlantis for Playstation is a decent game, and if I were a 7-year-old high on the movie, I'd have a decent amount of fun. The graphics, sound and design might not thrill older gamers, but we've seen a lot worse.