Jerry Seinfeld. The very name connotes puffy shirts, close talkers, cold swimming pools and the Soup Nazi, all of which are a far cry from cute animated films. Yet there we were this fall, listening to Seinfeld voice Barry B. Benson in Bee Movie and, now, lend his vocal chords to the same pollinating character in the Bee Movie Game. Like many Dreamworks pictures, Bee Movie is predominantly designed for a younger crowd, with just enough double entendre and deeper meanings to entertain adult viewers as well. Bee Movie Game, on the other hand, is a decidedly under-13 affair.
Bee Movie Game follows the adventures of Barry B. Benson as he graduates from Bee U. and tries to find his own path in life — one that doesn’t necessarily involve honey or the hive. Bee Movie Game tells this story across 12 different chapters, which are further split into more than 20 different missions. Generally these missions involve flying through the air while pollinating flowers, shooting wasps with your Pollinator gun, dodging raindrops by activating a bullet-time effect, and/or engaging in timed button-pressing sequences or pressing directions on the D-pad to avoid various obstacles.
The 12 chapters, although very repetitive in the gameplay department, seem at first to deliver a surprisingly high level of entertainment. In reality, they’re simply a breath of fresh air from the rest of the game, which is comprised of half a dozen different mini-games that players are forced to play in order to advance to the next mission. These mini-games take place in the Hive and involve benign enough activities like catching drops of honey in a bucket, giving Crazy Taxi-like rides to worker bees, racing cars through the hive suburbs and performing timed button-press automobile repairs in the local garage. There’s even a series of unlockable games in the Arcade, where players can purchase old-school-styled 2D games, play them against real-life friends and upload their high scores to the online leaderboards.
But unlike many video games in which these mini-games are nice diversions from the “meat” of the game, Bee Movie Game makes these mini-games compulsory, as you have to complete three, four, five or more of them in order to advance to the next chapter. This definitely extends the length of the game, but it does so very artificially. This tactic also has the inadvertent affect of taking some of the fun out of the mini-games because they’re forced upon players in order to advance.
In an ideal world, of course, the younger gamers for which this game is designed won’t notice this forced completion because they’ll be enjoying the simple mini games and pretty graphics. And make no mistake, Bee Game Movie looks great. Compared to heavyweights like Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed, Bee Movie Game isn’t going to win any awards. But compared to the source animated material, and by under-13-years-old standards, Bee Movie Game is hard to top. Same goes for the voice acting and cut scenes, both of which are top-notch for a game of this ilk.
Bee Movie Game never claims to be a game for adults, and the repetitive gameplay in its 12 chapters is more of a tactic to help younger gamers succeed than it is a sign of a title that lacks diversity. Older gamers will quickly find fault with a number of things, but frankly, those gamers have a whole host of more-mature games to play at this time of year anyway. But if you can take it for what it is, a game based on a movie in which a bee falls in love with a human, you’re likely to have a bit more fun with it. And at the end of the day, if your kids enjoyed the feature film, Bee Movie Game is likely going to be a hit as well.
- Score: 7.7
- We’ve never been fans of forcing someone to play a set number of mini-games to advance to the next mission, and we don’t like that element in this game either. But the mini-games are simple enough and the mission structure repetitive enough that young kids are likely going to have a good time.
— Jonas Allen