Review by Suprak the Stud

Reviewed: 11/30/09

Definitely Needs an Upgrade

Wall-E was originally an animated film released by Pixar that was something of a critical darling. While I thought the movie was pretty good myself, at no time during the film did I think to myself, “This would make a great game!” While this probably occurred to very few people, it was at least evident enough to a group of designers and people in marketing that Wall-E was also made into a game for a variety of platforms including the 360. I know it was popular and everything, but focusing a game on a robot that is programmed to compact trash doesn’t sound that much fun because I’ve seen a trash compacter in real life and I’ve never wanted to play it. The game is about as enjoyable as one made exclusively to milk more money out of a popular kids’ film can reasonably be, but it still isn’t very good and even most kids are going to find this effort underwhelming.

The game roughly follows the same plot of the movie, and by roughly I mean all the levels are based off of parts of the movie but nothing is really explained. If you have seen the movie then you already know what is going on, and if you haven’t seen the movie you aren’t going to be playing this game in the first place. Essentially, a series of robots were set up to commission the cleaning of the Earth when humanity got to fat and lazy to do it themselves. All of the other robots have broken down, making Earth a fairly lonely place to be for a wee robot like Wall-E. Another robot has been sent down to scavenge for vegetation to see if Earth is hospitable again, and after she finds some Wall-E accompanies her back to the hovering ship containing the oversized humans. It sticks to the movie fairly well, but deviates a bit at times, like the portion where Wall-E goes Rambo and uses Eve’s arm to gun down hundreds of security bots. There are some cutscenes at the end of each chapter, and while these are alright, if someone is really interested in the story they can just watch the movie as it delivers the full experience of the story without having to deal with all of the annoyingness of the game.

As the story is sort of glossed over, the focus is placed on gameplay, which is a shame because the gameplay is something that they should have been trying to hide. Levels are dividing between Wall-E levels, Eve levels, and combo levels where you can play as both, and the enjoyment varies between none and negative. The Wall-E and the combo levels tend to be fairly straightforward platforming segments, which are both dull and frustrating. Wall-E has an unnatural affinity for walls, and whenever you veer to close to one he turns his focus entirely on the wall, shifting the camera from what you’d want to see to the undying object of Wall-E’s affection. The camera in general is trying its best to kill you and likes to shift to weird angles when you are moving between various platforms. The game has tons of checkpoints, which I suppose is its way of making the game incredibly easy yet frustrating at the same time. Wall-E does have a couple of special moves, most of which involve him crushing garbage or turning into a cube himself. Garbage crushing puzzles abound, but as the game was designed for kids they barely count as puzzles, especially as the game goes out of its way to tell you what to do. However, whoever designed the magnetic panels in this game clearly hated kids, as these portions are so incredibly glitchy that I can only assume the person who designed this thrives off of the tears of children. Wall-E rolls into a ball and can move along the magnetic platforms, and by move along I mean sometimes roll slowly and get stuck and sometimes go at some breakneck speed and get jettisoned off into the abyss, depending on the mood of these evil platforms. It really is sort of the most unique aspect of the game that doesn’t involve being a cute garbage disposal, so it is kind of weird they didn’t bother to make it not terrible. Everything else is fairly standard and works alright occasionally, but the jumps tend to be made more difficult than they need to be by the camera. Some portions are almost enjoyable and you might be able to actually scrounge some entertainment out of a couple of the middle levels, but too much of the game is either incredibly easy or based around broken mechanics to be truly enjoyable.

The Eve portions do offer a change of pace, in so much that it changes the ways you can be bored and frustrated. Eve can fly around and shoot, which sounds fun until you realize that almost all of her missions involve you flying through tunnels that you basically can’t die in. There are some other missions, but these are somehow even worse and tend to involve you holding still and scanning things or flying around and locating something. Her levels tend to be a bit more open, and at times the missions stop for long enough for you to fly around and explore. The problem is there really isn’t any reason for you to want to explore, and on more than one instance while I was flying around, Eve had some sort of robot equivalent to a stroke and lost her ability to turn, causing her to fly straight until you enter some sort of black abyss and subsequently smash the disc into tiny edible pieces.

Everything else is fairly standard and doesn’t deviate much from what you’d expect for a kids’ game. There is lots of stuff to collect, but no real reason to collect most of it. There is some sketch art and various costumes for Wall-E and Eve to use in multiplayer, but the game really isn’t enjoyable enough to go back and track anything down in case you missed it. The multiplayer mode is fine and includes a complete of different games, but it is local multiplayer only and the games aren’t good enough to warrant spending any time playing through them for very long. There isn’t much to do beyond the normal game, which is so short and simple it can be completed within an afternoon if you can stand to play it the entire time.

The visuals and sound effects are both alright, but aren’t anything spectacular enough to be memorable after the game concludes. Everything looks fairly nice, and the bright and colorful visuals do resemble the movie nicely. The sound is also not terrible, and a lot of the music and noises seem to be lifted directly from the movie, which is probably a good idea as tying itself to the movie as closely as possible might actually confuse some kids into thinking it is the movie, which is the only way people will enjoy it. Unfortunately, the game developers seemed to have been limited to how many phrases and noises they could use in each level, as the same things repeat endlessly in the background. Not just the music, but background announcements repeat over and over, and for some reason they thought the phrase “Rogue robots” repeating for literally an entire level wouldn’t bother any one.

Some people might think I’m being to hard on Wall-E, and as it was something that was probably designed for kids’ I should be more lenient with my criticisms. But just because something is for kids does it mean that it should also be terrible. Lots of things are for kids that are well constructed, and a lot of early Disney titles for the NES or SNES are fondly remembered by gamers to this day. Wall-E isn’t just a title for kids, it is an obvious money grab that was made to lure in fans of the film, which wouldn’t be that bad if some effort was put into the product. The levels are boring, the controls are frustrating, and the game is glitchy. Even kids are going to be smart enough to want to stay away from this one, and their days are better spent either just rewatching the movie or going outside and eating dirt.

Wall-E (THE GOOD):
+Visuals are alright; artwork is nice for fans of the movie
+A couple of somewhat entertaining levels
+An alright game for younger kids or fans of the film

Clunk-E (THE BAD):
-Terrible camera that has an affinity for walls
-Frustrating controls for numerous parts in the game
-Too many boring missions for Eve that focus on some mundane task
-Glitches are fairly common throughout the game
-Annoyingly repetitive soundtrack
-Short and very little to do

Lame-O (THE UGLY): The endless stream of fat people wearing skin tight spandex rolling at you that you need to dodge in one of the levels. This is every bit as terrifying as it sounds, and is the kind of thing that can ruin a kid’s childhood.

THE VERDICT: 3.25/10.00

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Product Release: WALL-E (US, 06/24/08)

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