Cubed3 readers may well have already had the chance to see some thoughts on Wreck-It Ralph, the movie based around a video game bad guy that wants to turn good, in the latest Lights, Camera, Action!, but anyone that has yet to see the movie should be immediately aware that the game version - on DS, Wii and 3DS - contains spoilers, and as such, so does this review. Disney Interactive and Activision have teamed up to bring the latest CG movie mega hit exclusively to Nintendo systems.
Remember Lost Vikings and its sequel on the Super Nintendo? Well, this latest from Pipeworks Software - the team that recently completed the Devil May Cry HD Collection, as well as working on uDraw Studio and Zumba Fitness - works in a similar fashion, with players commanding two players and switching regularly between them in order to overcome various puzzles throughout an otherwise rudimentary platform adventure. In this case, the theme is that of new Disney Studios hit, Wreck-It Ralph, which focuses on Ralph, an antagonist that smashes the windows of a tower block only for the hero, Fix-It Felix, to jump around mending the broken glass. In the movie version, Ralph desperately wants to change his path and become a good guy. However, this video game iteration acts as a follow-on from the silver screen CG showcase (meaning it also proves to be a rather spoiler-filled product for those not having watched the film first).
For this, Ralph and Felix, rather than being immortal foes as in the in-movie arcade game, are now best buddies and begin working together to remove the Cy-bug army infestation that starts in the kart racing 'Sugar Rush' game and threatens to spread further, destroying Mr. Litwak's entire arcade. Only by game-hopping can peace be restored. Other than that game, players are thrown into 'Hero's Duty' and 'Fix-It, Felix Jnr' on the road to victory. Those that have watched the film may be expecting a wide range of gameplay types to be included. Some kart racing, first-person blasting action, and arcade japery? Nope, nothing of the sort. Each world has its own individual theme tune that plays in every level, but all stages are pretty much identical, with the focus on platform jumping, switch hitting, bug punching/hitting, character switching at certain times…and that is about it.
It is also somewhat saddening to find that all the cameos from the laugh-out-loud movie - such as Bowser, Dr. Eggman, Zangief, Sonic, Pac Man, and so on - are totally absent in this bite-sized platform effort. Instead there are three of the movie's fabricated worlds to work through, each with four stages that must all be completed before gaining access to four final boss encounters. The structure is quite odd indeed and, as with The Simpsons Game, leaves gamers feeling considerably underwhelmed by the whole experience, especially given that it can be 100% completed in about an hour and a half by a mid-level gamer. Smaller children will obviously get more from it, but the special items to collect are nearly always in clear sight, and the rewards (a handful of pre-release sketches of characters) will likely not prove strong enough incentive to plough on to the end, let alone through the New Game + that merely offers up the same experience, but with a higher difficulty level.
There are moments of inspiration dotted throughout, however, such as sections where barriers must be removed by timing the hit of a switch just right, or leaping over enemies to hit a switch that makes the platforms beneath disappear, dropping them into an acidic lake, similar to how Bowser can be despatched in Super Mario Bros. There are also some platform climbing sections that are reminiscent of Donkey Kong, with cylinders rolling down from above, knocking the lead characters flying if hit. More of these touches would have made this such a better title. Only being able to climb ladders and break objects with Ralph, plus only having access to a double-jump and item fixing ability with Felix does make for some inventive scenarios, but there was much more potential in Wreck-It Ralph, so it is a shame to see it end up as nothing more than a throwaway platform romp.
Wreck-It Ralph is a solid platform adventure with a few enjoyable character-swapping puzzles thrown in. Unfortunately, it is over before it begins, lacks any multiplayer, skimps on the extras, and generally runs out of steam in the creative stakes. Whilst competent for the most part, it really does feel like a missed opportunity, especially given the amount of cameos that made it into the film but are absent here.