Review by SneakTheSnake

"What a wreck."

Wreck-It Ralph, a movie released to praise from gaming fans and critics alike, is truly a love letter to classic gamers. Characters from games long past pop up on screen in droves, many game-based puns and backdrops inspired from retro and modern favorites littler the film's entire narrative and visuals. And now, we have a video game based on a movie. A video game based on a movie based on video games. Shouldn't that be a match made in Heaven? Nah.

I got my hopes up with this Wii release. Perhaps I had no actual reason to other than hey, I figured that, if it's a game based on games, there'd be more effort, right? More sly nods to the classics, more nuanced gameplay or... perhaps I had no reason to expect those things either, but Wreck-It Ralph for the Wii succeeds only as a continuation of the film's narrative. That's really about it; nothing about its gameplay or graphics truly shines, and the game is simply not worth a purchase, at all.

You take on the characters Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-It Felix, now best friends, in a narrative that acts as a follow-up to the CGI film of the same name. Ralph is attending a public event in Sugar Rush (a kart racer that appears as a game in the film Wreck-It Ralph), and a bug infestation threatens to destroy the games themselves. It's up to Ralph and Felix to head through the three main games from the movie - Fix-It Felix Jr., Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush - to stop the invasion.

Wreck-It Ralph is a 2D platformer with basic puzzle elements. You can swap between the two characters on the fly, and each character has a specific set of abilities. Ralph can climb ladders and is much better in hand-to-hand combat; Felix can repair broken machines and is better at platforming. You play through twelve levels of this stuff and then take on four bosses consecutively.

This is gameplay of the lowest common denominator. Run up ladders, jump on platformers, take out the big bad bugs, look for trinkets and the like. There is nothing inspired in this game adaptation, which to me is still truly surprising. It's a game based on games; the implications for parody, writing and setting are near limitless. What if Ralph wound up in a Sonic level, or facing off against a Ryu knock-off? Something, anything, to take advantage of its background and pedigree! But no; this is the gameplay from 1997 put onto a disc for a movie that happens to be made in 2012. It feels like these are levels from a Lost Vikings beta that were scrapped for being too unoriginal and bland.

It doesn't even function as a parody of movie-based games; that's a frame of mind I tried really hard to accept during the first batch of levels. It's only doing this to function as a parody, I thought to myself. But no; it really just is this bad. It's really this uninspired; it's really this backwards; the jumping physics and collision detection are proof. Not only was I not challenged while I played this game; I was never really inspired to continue. I continued because, based on my progress percentage, it would only be a matter of time that I'd finish it. And I was right; the entire game, minus a few collectables, clocked in at roughly 2 hours. And there's no way I'd play a New Game+ with a game whose gameplay is this milquetoast; why would I want harder enemies and to compete for a high score when those things don't contribute to a more fun-filled campaign anyway? Forget New Game+.

It's a poor game for fans of the film and it's a poor game for children. The young ones will certainly rush through this in a matter of hours. There are perhaps two points where I felt Wreck-It Ralph was even mildly interesting; one level in Hero's Duty has you jumping over a pit to nab a little trinket in order to collapse the bridge under an enemy (like Mario and the axe in Super Mario Bros.), and there was a little series of "pull the lever" puzzles in which you must deactivate laser barriers in sequence.

The graphics and sound in the game are atrocious. You'll laugh at the graphics for this; it's no wonder there wasn't a gameplay trailer before the game was released! Sure, the in-game CGI (about 2 to 3 minutes max) is entertaining and looks pretty good, but the rest of the game is sloppy and poorly directed. Character models are uninspired; they look like braindead husks of the original characters, as they lack facial expressions or even much animation at all. Environments lack polish or detail; the "talking head" cutscenes will bore you with their oddball writing and pathetic character portraits (seriously, Ralph looks like he's made out of clay), and level backgrounds lack variety.

The sound is only somewhat more passable. The game is voiced by either inconsistent sound-a-likes or from the real voice actors in a rushed, distracted and off-sounding performance. The lines are well acted, but many of them simply don't sound right, save for Jane Lynch's and Sarah Silverman's characters. The music becomes bland and repetitive within the first few minutes; levels typically last for 10 minutes, but the music loops and doesn't change from level to level. Shameful.

As previously mentioned, there's a New Game +, but one will be lucky if your child plays the game all the way through. There are no multiplayer options, but there are some randomly-assigned pieces of concept art to unlock, as well as some medals, as rewards for finding goodies that are only slightly off the beaten path. There are no multiplayer options or any other bells and whistles.

Shame on Disney, then, after spearheading Toy Story 3, an excellent movie-based game and game in its own right. Shame on them for not taking advantage of the video game medium like The Simpsons Game did, a game which, while not having much better gameplay than Wreck-It Ralph, was filled to the brim with great writing and interesting game parodies. Even Despicable Me has a game wherein there's gameplay variety, head-scratching puzzles and more cutscenes. Wreck-It Ralph is a rushed game that does not deserve to be purchased, even in the bargain bin. Avoid at all costs.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/12

Game Release: Wreck-It Ralph (US, 10/30/12)


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