Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Wii Zapper Compatible
Every time I receive a game to review that is based on a movie I start to tremble as so many of them have been quite hastily done. It seems that so many of these games are rushed out the door in order to meet the release date of the movie they are based upon. Recently THQ has partnered up with Disney Pixar and released a game based on their latest computer animated movie WALL•E. And after spending sometime with the WALL•E I am still of the opinion that movie based games are rushed, which in turn leads to them being somewhat average.
If there is one area that I was quite disappointed in, it was the visuals in WALL•E for the Wii. Now anyone who has read any of my Wii reviews in the past will know that I am well aware that Nintendo’s next-generation is not a graphical powerhouse, but that being said it is capable of some pretty good visuals. With this in mind, you would think that with source material like WALL•E, a computer generated movie; the visuals would be pretty outstanding. Unfortunately they are not near what they could or even should be.
I am so used to the majority of games on the Wii jumping off the screen with bright and vibrant colors. However in WALL•E the colors just aren’t that vivid. Maybe it has to do with a lot of the location of the game, Earth in a very ‘littered’ and desolate state, but that does not take up all the game’s action locations. Overall it is as if the colors are muted and at times really dull. As for the character models, they are quite recognizable, but yet they don’t seem nearly as well rendered as they could have been.
Technically speaking the framerate seems to take a hit more times then I would have liked. Again, this is mystifying given that the Wii can handle some great visuals, and given that the crew at Heavy Iron Studios is more then capable. I wonder if the hiccups in the framerate are due to not having the time to lock it in. Regardless these hiccups managed to provide quite annoyance more then anything else.
Sound is another area where I had high expectations for WALL•E. Although the audio gets the job done, it definitely doesn’t blow the doors off so-to-speak. There is no doubt that you will recognize the voices in the game as WALL•E, EVE and all the supporting characters sound like those in the big screen movie. It was pretty cool to hear those recognizable sounds of WALL•E himself, and EVE’s voice has that same charm it had in the movie. Heck my four year old daughter recognized both these characters voices immediately. As for the other sound effects (e.g. EVE’s blaster or WALL•E’s crushing of trash) they manage to also match the movie to a tee. Where I was somewhat let down was in the music. Pixar has always had great soundtracks in their movies, however the game version of the music gets really annoying fast as it just loops over and over again. In the end I would say the whole sound package is solid enough, but there was some room for improvement, especially in regards to the music.
Having had the chance to see WALL•E in the theatres on its day of release, I would have to say that the game itself keeps a lot of the story alive, and continues much of what you didn’t see as well. The game does take some creative liberties with the story in terms of telling more of what was not in the movie. I give props to developers of the game for giving additional story rather then just making a videogame version of what was seen on the big screen.
For those who have not seen the movie, and want to know a bit about what the game is based upon, let me explain. WALL•E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is one of a series of robots who were designed to clean up all the trash that have humans created. Humans have since left the planet in order to allow all these robots to clean up the mess. Well, without ruining the plot, WALL•E is the only robot left cleaning up. After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL•E discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. WALL•E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most exciting and imaginative comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen. Joining WALL•E on his fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future, is a hilarious cast of characters including a pet cockroach, and a heroic team of malfunctioning misfit robots.
Overall there are nine worlds for you to explore in WALL•E the videogame. These nine worlds are based on, and inspired from, the environments found in the movie. They do a great job of bringing the movie to life on the Wii and I found that as I played through the worlds in the game it very much brought me back to the movie that I had just seen a few days ago. There is no doubt that Heavy Iron Studios worked very much in conjunction with Pixar to get the feel of the movie incorporated into the game.
Interestingly enough, the Wii version of the game utilizes the Nunchuk and Wii remote setup, but you can also use the Wii Zapper if you like. Specifically speaking, the Wii remote is used for flight control, power surges, as well as to control EVE’s laser arm, which is quite important in combat. In terms of the actions it was neat to have to swipe the Wii remote in order to pick up objects or wave the Nunchuk to throw your WALL•E made cube at an on-screen target. The controls work very well and anyone who picks this title up for the Wii should have absolutely no problems controlling the on-screen action.
The majority of the game has you using WALL•E’s trash compacting abilities to form cubes. You will solve a lot, and I do mean a lot, of puzzles using cubes that are the necessary for you to advance (e.g. magnetic, electric or standard) in the game. Of course as this is a THQ/Disney game there is your traditional platforming and shooting sequences as well, given that both WALL•E and EVE have the abilities that allow you to do such.
Although the game does a great job on story and control, it is very short in its total content. The games overall story can be completed in about five or six hours, and even though the game is geared towards fans of the movie (read: KIDS) this is quite short to me. Maybe the developers thought a short attention span of those who are the main audience warranted a short game. Regardless of the rationale for such, I think that the game could have been flushed out more given that they do touch on areas that were not in the movie and actually expand on the whole WALL•E experience. On more of a plus note, there are also a bevy of unlockables (e.g. concept art and costumes) for one to open up, but I really wonder how many people may find this fun, let alone necessary.
There is a multiplayer component to the game that does provide a little more meat to its bones and it comes in the form of both adversarial and cooperative modes. The latter allows for WALL•E and EVE to take on the adventure set forth in the game’s story at the same time. In the adversarial modes there are three head-to-head games that have three variations each. For example, one of these games is an on-rail shooter, ala House of the Dead. Using the Wii Zapper made this multiplayer mini-game kind of fun. Interestingly enough, when you are playing against a friend or two in this shooting game you must beat them to the targets as you are all aiming (editor’s note: no pun intended) for the same thing. All in all the games are ok, but they do seem a little tacked on. Regardless though, it was good to see them try to add some further playability to the game and the younger ones may even really enjoy them.
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