|System: Wii, PS2, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Engine Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Playlogic||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 4, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Okay, kids, it's that time again. Another summer blockbuster hopeful has hit theaters, and it's dragging along with it a slew of games to pad its parade of licensed merchandise. Fear not, however, as the handheld imagining of Aliens in the Attic is a competent romp that's actually worth a look.
The game closely follows the story of the movie, and you'll take collective control of Tom, Jake, and Hannah throughout the adventure. Aliens have invaded your attic, of course, and it's up to the trio to save the world. Aliens in the Attic on DS is something of a platforming shooter, so liberties are taken in terms of the size of rooms and the overall expanse of your abode.
If you're hoping for a focus on story, you're sure to be disappointed. The exchanges of dialogue in the game are mostly funny, but they're also fairly generic. You'll get the gist of where the game's headed, what's happening with the characters, as well as a basic plot that ties everything together, but the action takes center stage here. Considering the premise of the story, however, the presentation works just fine.
As you might expect, each of the three main characters has a little something unique to offer the gameplay, and you'll often be required to switch between characters on the fly (using the shoulder buttons). Tom's the brains of the bunch, so he's the only one who can make use of the alien gadgets you'll acquire throughout the game. Jake's the oldest and strongest of the group, and it's up to him to move heavy objects, either for use in navigating higher platforms, or simply to clear a pathway for your team. Lastly, Hannah is the smallest and most agile; she can double jump, as well as make her way through narrow passages.
Each of the two boys are equipped with homemade guns (compliments of Tom's handiwork), which can be upgraded via items that will be passed on to you when you rescue neighbors and family members throughout levels. Upgrades include a homing device, ammo that can knock back enemies, as well as a nozzle that creates a spray of bullets. Though there's infinite ammo, you will need to keep an eye out for grenade and health pick-ups.
Shooting is pretty satisfying, and you can simply hold down the button to rapid fire. There's a decent variety of enemies in the game, considering the overall length of the adventure, and the A.I. is surprisingly defensive at times. If you try to kneel down in one spot to exploit their position, baddies will often retreat back to safer ground. That said, there are really only three or four types of attack patterns you'll see from the pool of enemies, and they only pose a significant challenge when grouped together.
All of the action takes place on the top screen, with your hub located down below on the touch screen. You've got a shared health bar, as well as icons that allow you to switch out gadgets and guns on the fly. You can also use the touch screen to free aim, and though it's often a necessity, it's a very clumsy mechanic. In most cases, it's preferable to simply aim using the D-pad while firing with the Y button.
The levels are designed in a basic yet enjoyable fashion. There aren't really any puzzles, other than perhaps having Hannah navigate a series of platforms so that Jake can then move a heavy block out of the way, but the way in which the game makes use of all three characters is still fairly entertaining. Some environmental obstacles are completely pointless, lacking any sort of creativity whatsoever. However, the bosses are a true highlight that will mostly present players with a healthy challenge.