There’s little doubt that kids everywhere are asking mom and dad for the newest, coolest WALL*E tie-in. Disney/Pixar’s latest animated film earned more than $60 million, which means there’s no shortage of fans out there clamoring to extend their WALL*E experience and, of course, a videogame that will let them do just that. THQ’s adaptation of the WALL*E film is generally a predictable platformer that predictably extends the movie’s universe in (you guessed it) predictable ways. Fortunately, the game remains faithful to the movie’s tone and structure, and elements of it still remain fun.
WALL*E: The Videogame is designed for 8 to 10-year-old kids, so if you’re an adult or teen who loved the film, the chances are pretty high you’ll only be marginally amused. The game’s missions follow the film’s plot pretty closely, with additional levels created to extend the gameplay a bit and really let players poke around the periphery of the movie’s settings.
Like the movie, the game focuses on WALL*E, the main trash-compacting hero, and EVE, the plant-seeking robot with whom WALL*E falls in love, and it follows their exploits on land and in space relatively faithfully. Players assume the role of either character depending on the level at hand, and at times control them both alternately in an Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee kind of way. WALL*E’s levels require maneuvering the boxy robot around obstacles and solving puzzles by building trash piles into cubes that can be tossed or placed where needed. There’s also the requisite switch triggering, coupled by the interesting ability to overcome gravity by attaching himself to magnetized surfaces — a clever use of the metal robot dynamic.
Controlling the physics-based WALL*E is fun, almost like a cross between a tank and a remote-controlled car. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough gameplay variety to capitalize on that enjoyment. Even as levels and enemies change, the core of the gameplay is solving puzzles, activating switches and disposing of enemies by tossing trash cubes at them or firing WALL*E’s laser gun.
On the other side of the coin, EVE controls quite differently, as she’s able to fly and is much more graceful than our Earth-bound, blocky friend. This opens up new level and gameplay possibilities, such as a space-based chase mission reminiscent of X-Wing and a tunnel-racing game a la any on-rails arcade shooter you’ve ever played.
Because they involve flight, EVE’s missions are generally more expansive than WALL*E’s, yet they seem somewhat easier, since EVE can fly away from conflict rather than take it on directly. In fact, even when confined during the aforementioned tunnel levels, it’s harder to kill EVE before reaching the end than it is to make it through.
Since it’s part platformer, you know there’s a coin-collecting clone, and WALL*E’s version is a bunch of red “E” symbols that can be used to unlock movie-related goodies like concept art. Most of these are in plain site and directly in the path of playing through the linear levels, leaving little to no reason to return to the single-player story or co-op missions after a first pass. The multiplayer options boost the replay factor somewhat — a good thing, considering the easy-to-find E’s — but the lack of online support means you’ll need three friends in the same room to enjoy the smashing good times.
The cut-scenes in WALL*E are modeled directly on Pixar’s animations, and they do a remarkable job of feeling like a true companion piece to the theatrical universe. The in-game visuals are also well done and carry the tone of the film, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio truly uses all five channels, immersing you in the entire experience but particularly during the cut-scenes where the inquisitive score comes into play.
WALL*E is a tie-in, yes, but where movie tie-ins are concerned, it’s a well implemented one, both in concept and in its relation to the film. However, the confines of working with the movie’s universe didn’t really leave much room for gameplay exploration, but when the characters are this lovable, it’s easy to overlook that the rest of the game is a pretty standard platformer.
- Score: 7.2
- WALL*E is a fun character and film, but while the game explores more of the movie’s universe, the gameplay doesn’t explore anything by familiar ground.