Review by WishingTikal
"Dance, slide, swim.... Rinse, repeat."
Licensed games are always almost doomed to be bad, for some reason. It could be that the license limits the developers, or the developers just don't try, since the game is going to sell because of the license, not because of its gaming merits. Happy Feet is a decent children movie, kids love it, parents are subject to buying the game. However, it would be wiser not to. Save your money and buy the movie instead, or if you already have the movie, then skip the game.
The game's presentation is just as cute as the movie, it's the same characters, same story, even the same voice-work. Set around a map, various dots indicating levels will connect to each other as you travel across the land, playing as Mumble. The game follows the storyline from the movie, so between levels, cutscenes give life to the adventure, giving a sense to what you're doing. Otherwise, there would be no sense to what you're doing, and why you're doing it, as you'll see shortly.
Happy Feet's map consists of 33 levels. The bad news is that there are only 3 different levels, all other stages only presenting variations of the same three levels with extremely slight changes. The first type of level is a dancing one, with the wiimote instead of a dancing pad. While the penguins are dancing on screen with stirring music, you have to shake the wiimote up, down, right or left, according to the arrows moving on the screen. I found the controls to lack responsibility, it's not too clear exactly when to shake the wiimote, and even if it was, the mini-game is tiring and gets boring really fast. Games like this are supposed to drag you in with the beat, not just have you sitting, shaking the wiimote like a zombie. That's how I felt.
The second type of level is the swimming one. You hold the wiimote sideways and move it right, left, up or down to swim. The character will go forward by itself, so that's really all you need to do. Some stages will have you collect items, others reach the exit before time runs out. Another variation of this stage has a large foe chasing you around. The third type of level, and the last, is the sliding one. Here again, same thing. Move the wiimote right or left to veer, while Mumble slides down the mountain. Most of these stages are races against friends, or they have you collect items or beat the clock. The End. If this was boring to read, then think of the game.
Once you've played the three first levels of the game, you've played the whole game. If you do decide to finish it, and the only compelling reason would be the cutscenes holding everything together, then the game lasts a few hours, if you don't fall asleep before. It's unnecessarily too long. You are rewarded with medals depending on your performance in the stages, and getting gold medals unlocks... the exact same stages from the main quest. Going through the same levels over and over is discouraging enough the first time so that you won't want to replay a second time just to unlock something that is already in the game. I fail to see the logic of these unlockables.
The only good thing about the game is that it's like playing the movie. The character models look impressive and the environments present graphics of good quality, although the lack of variety in what you'll be seeing kind of makes them dull. The music is great too, just like in the movie. I'm not a big fan of any of the popular songs you dance on in the game (nor in the movie), but the levels with the original soundtrack pieces blend well with the action. The voice-acting is also of high quality, with the same voices from the movie.
In conclusion, Happy Feet is an uninspired game that would appeal to very young kids with its simple interface. Perhaps young children won't realize they are doing the same thing over and over in a game that seems to never end. The sliding levels are sort of fun, but not after the tenth time, and the rhythm levels are all but fun. Do yourself a favor, and re-watch the movie instead of loosing time on this game.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/14/07, Updated 08/16/07
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