Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Last weekend Editor in Chief Kirby Y and I took our daughters to see WALL•E at one of our local movie theaters. While the kids are still a little too young to fully appreciate the movie, us dads were quite impressed. Yet again Pixar has delivered a great looking movie, and as usual the storyline sucks you right in. When I watch the majority of Pixar movies I almost always find myself really caring for the movie’s main hero(s) and with WALL•E it was no different. So when I got a chance to review WALL•E for the DS my first thought was “how could this game possibly live up to the movie?” Well, it doesn’t come close, however that does not make it a bad game for gaming on the go, especially if you keep your expectations open.
Overall, the visuals in WALL•E for the DS are not that bad. I would not go so far as to say the graphics maximize the hardware in the DS, however they do the job. Our main hero, WALL•E, is very recognizable and looks good on the tiny DS screen. His box-like shape and human like expressions are bang on. The maps, albeit very basic looking, are linear and lack any real detail. Don’t expect a very colorful game either. You will notice that earth is a very drab, bland and dirty place. Nonetheless, for those that have seen the movie, the maps do effectively mirror those environments seen in the WALL•E movie itself.
The cut-scenes in WALL•E for the DS are decent too as the game essentially follows the same storyline as the movie. Following each mission/level you are greeted with a slick looking cut-scene reliving some of the best moments found in the movie. Overall, the scenes are rendered quite well, but at the end of the say it won’t blow your socks off. Everything else aside, the game runs smoothly with little to no load times.
As with the games visuals, the sound in WALL•E is good but certainly not great. For those that have seen the movie, there is no doubt 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. Sure, it may not sound nearly as good as what you would hear in a theater but the game does a good job of reproducing the sound of the movie. Heck, you know it must be a good job when even my five year old daughter recognized the games character voices immediately. As for the other sound effects, such as WALL•E’s crushing of trash or falling off a ledge, they manage to do the job. The games soundtrack is a bit of disappointment considering Pixar has always had great soundtracks in their movies. In fact, many of the games levels feature no music whatsoever, just in-game sound effects, and what little music you get is very forgetful as it just loops over and over again. In the end I would say the whole audio package is solid enough, but there was still some room for improvement.
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. Having seen WALL•E on the big screen, the games storyline very much follows the actual story of the movie, but it also expands the storyline in other ways.
In simple terms, as I am a simple guy, WALL•E for the DS is essentially an adventure based puzzle game. In Tomb Raider type fashion WALL•E must get from point A to point B using his abilities and the environment around him. As he does in the movie, WALL•E can pick up items, place them in his belly, and spit them back out in a nice square and compact manner. You will use these cubes for various actions in the game. The controls are very easy to pick-up and the game contains icons scattered throughout the level which gives you tips on how to use the various controls and how to use some of the destructible environments to your favor. You control WALL•E using the ‘D Pad’ and you can also easily control the camera by using the L and R shoulder buttons.
WALL•E’s missions on the DS are quite linear which is one of the games set-backs. You often get lost in the games maps as they are quite small and broken into several sections throughout each level. On the other hand, the developers did do a formidable job with the layouts of each level and often it took some time for me to figure out the ideal way to make it to the next area which helped the length of the game as it added a slight, but not overbearing challenge. Younger gamers may have difficulty with some of puzzling areas; however most gamers should not have a problem breezing through the game’s levels.
As you progress through the game you mostly play as WALL•E himself, however there are points in the game where you play as EVE which can be quite satisfying. Controlling EVE is also pretty basic and was a nice touch as it gives you a break from controlling WALL•E who can get on your nerves at times. I should also mention that there are collectable coins located throughout the game which unlocks various screenshots from the movie. It is another nice touch by the developers and certainly gives WALL•E for the DS a bit of replay value.
Overall, WALL•E for the DS is perfect game for those younger and somewhat experienced gamers who loved the WALL•E movie and own a DS. While the sound and graphics will not blow you away, the overall gameplay offers enough substance for fans of the small robot. The game follows the movie’s storyline and the games missions are perfect for gaming on the go. Go ahead, reach out and grab WALL•E while the name is still hot.