Monday, January 26, 2009


Based on the movie is the game WALL·E. Being a typical videogame-of-a-movie, the game more or less follows the plot of the movie. You start off as the title character, doing some simple cleanup tasks on Earth all by himself. Much the same way the scenes in the movie introduce you to the character, the scenes in the game introduce you to the basic controls and mechanics.

The second scene brings in EVE, which instead of platforming and puzzle-solving instead introduces flight and speed. It can be a little frustrating, as the controls are very loose. There are also time trials that can be very frustrating, as the goals aren't very explicit. One that comes to mind is a trip through a boat. You have to take three passes, and there is one section of the boat where you choose which of the three paths you are going to take. You can only take each path once. Unfortunately, it is not clear that this is what you must do, and when you try to take the same path a second time, you are forced to another path in a move that often crashes you into a wall and doesn't indicate that you have to pick a different choice. This killed me more than once until I guessed the developers' intent.

The third scene gets more interesting, as you get to play as WALL·E and EVE together. It's back to a platforming dynamic, but with an added dimension of flight and the ability to shoot with EVE's cannon.

The game continues to follow the story, where you play as WALL·E, EVE, or both, depending on how the story goes. Your typical videogame elements have been added, such as tokens, collectibles (including, for some odd reason, Toy Story movie characters), and health units (solar recharge stations).

One annoying feature is that, to play multiplayer, one must first unlock the multiplayer stage by collecting all the tokens in the associated level in single player first. The tokens aren't entirely hidden, but it's not trivial to get 100% in a level. I'm not a fan of games that require unlocking multiplayer anyway. Multiplayer should be something that you can just jump into with your friends and family without having to wait for a single player to play through the game.

My kids seemed to enjoy this game well enough for being able to play through the story (and my two-year-old, who was saying the title character's name since the day he first saw it in the "Coming Soon" section of another Pixar DVD, loved watching), but once they finished the main storyline, they really haven't had a lot of interest in going back and playing the game again.

It's a fairly typical movie-to-video-game adaptation. Graphics aren't bad, but unimpressive (you certainly won't confuse it with the movie itself), gameplay is pretty straightforward, but not a lot of replay value.

1 comment:

Yakko Warner said...

Having just finished the storyline myself, I figured I'd add a few comments.

The game does seem to suffer from a few issues common to movie-to-videogame adaptations (especially those of the "kids' game" variety).

First, camera control. Granted, even games that spend an entire life cycle dedicated to being a game (rather than a movie retelling) have had issues with camera control, but there were issues that were just beyond bad. Take for instance one point where Wall·E was rolling along a particular magnetic ceiling. For some reason, the camera decided to rotate to a top-down view, and resisted any attempt to reorient to a bottom-up view.

Second, wonky physics. Occasionally, Wall·E would inexplicably slip off of platforms or bounce in very unexpected ways, leading to an unexpected and sudden death as you fall into a pit o' doom that wouldn't have been an issue if a solid, flat surface behaved consistently like a solid, flat surface.

Third, specials that don't seem fully debugged. There's a special magnetic surface (like the ceiling I mentioned above) that lets you roll up walls. However, these surfaces tend to guide you into going in a specific direction, either up-and-down or left-and-right (sometimes just one direction). The first time on one particular level, I rolled right up a magnetic wall and over the lip to the ledge above. But when I had to restart (thanks to being bounced off to my death by a wonky physics surface), that same wall only wanted me to go left and right, not up. I wasted several minutes trying to get Wall·E up that wall, once ending up embedded inside another wall such that I had to actually quit and reload the game.

All three of these bugs, present in various places elsewhere, came together on one level that took what should've been a 5-minute speed run and made it a 20-minute exercise in frustration.

Fortunately, even though there were no announced checkpoints, it did seem to save my progress in how many tokens and specials I had found in the level, even across the quit-and-reload. I was thankful for that, as I was not looking forward to repeating 15 minutes of frustration.

Still, it is pretty much what one would reasonably expect from a movie-to-videogame (for kids) game.

I'll be playing it again, of course, as the completionist in me says there are 23 achievements missing. I just hope I can get through all the "complete without dying" achievements with the glitches working against me.…