Review by Jurnco

"Stop Screaming!"

Overstatements are thrown around rather haphazardly. For example “this is the best movie ever made!” or “that's the most disgusting thing on the entire planet!” But this is entirely opinion, and there could be far better movies, and far more disgusting things. However, to say that Monsters Inc. Scream Arena is the worst game ever made is a major, major understatement.

Rather than cash in the Monsters Inc. franchise with a traditional platformer, THQ opted to pit the Disney/Pixar creatures against each other in a match of dodge ball, which has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. The premise of the game is rather simple; the monsters play dodge ball because it makes kids laugh, which in turn fuels the monster city. The sport requires little effort on the player's part, with pretty much everything being handled by the A button and analog stick. Which the main control consists of run, pick up ball, throw ball. Dodge ball was never a very complicated sport, but then again dodge ball wasn't ever really all that fun of a sport either, and Scream Arena is no different. There are four different modes of play, a break the target mode, a traditional scoring mode, elimination mode, and a keep-away mode. All of which basically entail running around and repeatedly tapping the A button. There are several different balls that bounce around the arena, waiting to be tossed at their next victim. For most of these, however, it's hard to tell if there is even a difference between them. There are a few special balls that will reverse an opponent's controls, make them stop and dance, cause them to pause for a sneeze, or just make them freeze in place. That is, if you can manage to hit anyone. Throwing a ball feels very unresponsive and more often than not you'll miss your mark. The computer on the other hand has some kind of heat seeking device implemented in their ball, and rarely miss, even when attempting to dodge with the B button. This could be compensation for the incredibly stupid artificial intelligence. The computer players are constantly stopping in their tracks, often only a few feet away. They'll even back themselves up into a corner where they're easiest to hit, and they're constantly passing up opportunities to throw the ball. Of course this game is designed with children in mind, which explains the easy nature of the AI, but get about halfway through the game and it suddenly becomes extremely frustrating. The AI starts tossing any chance they get, and yet they still possess their amazing hit accuracy. Scream Arena's single player mode is uneventful, and the game seems to be geared as a multiplayer experience, but even with another player fighting along side or against you just isn't that fun.

Scream Arena is one of the most awkward looking games ever. The characters have a strange quality about them that makes them look like 3D sprites running on a GBA, and the frame rate is just downright awful. The strangest part is that the environment rendering and camera movements look fine, but the frame rate of the characters themselves is slowed down considerably. The balls bouncing around the screen look like paper cutouts, and everything has a quick, shoddy, made-in-half-an-hour quality to it. This is a game that could impress on the Nintendo 64, but looks ridiculous running on a Gamecube.

Voice acting is somewhat subdued, but sounds decent. There are very little sound effects, and the soundtrack really comes down to whether or not you like the jazz genre. If you liked what you heard in the movie, the game sounds remarkably similar. However if you don't care for that kind of music it will grind your nerves. Either way, it doesn't exactly match the whole dodge ball scenario.

Monsters Inc. Scream Arena was obviously designed with kids in mind, and while I can't get into the mindset of a child, I don't see how this game can be fun for anyone of any age or gaming experience. Scream Arena isn't even that good of a concept, and it plays even worse than it sounds. If you're a fan of the show, buy the DVD, buy the toys, buy the bed sheets if you must, just please don't waste your time and money on this stinker.

-- Graphics/frame rate
-- Dumb AI
-- Repetitive gameplay
-- Not fun

Score: 1/10

Reviewer's Rating:   0.5 - Unplayable

Originally Posted: 03/23/07

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