|System: DS, X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Avalanche Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The presentation fares a bit better, and though the graphics lack polish, the games vibe and look are sure to appeal to the Disney audience. Character models and environments look good, though a little grainy. Youll travel to different locales around the world, including Russia and China, and you get a nice variety of distinct visual settings. Again, character movement isnt very fluid, but the framerate is steady pretty much the whole way through. Cutscenes are done using still art and text dialogue that offer little pizzazz, but still make for a tight package, overall.
The music is broken up to fit the locales youll travel to throughout the game, and they generally do a fine job of supporting the adventure. Its all very generic and there isnt a single cadence to tug at your heart strings, but music and sound effects are effective and fitting with the bubble-gum nature of this game.
As an aside (though not for Disney), Bolt DS includes something called DGamer. Its a completely separate offering from the actual adventure, and its where the real value of this package lies. Simply put, DGamer is a chatroom device. No other DS tool including Nintendos own Pictochat has offered this level of personal interaction. You log on via the Nintendo WiFi Connection, and once online, you can enter various Disney-related chatrooms and engage in discussion with other DGamers. Theres a nice selection of options, and youll be able to customize your avatar with almost the same level of depth offered from Nintendos Mii system (from the Wii console interface). Youll have to first register (for free) with the DGamer website if you want to be able to type in actual comments within chatrooms, though you can simply lurk as a guest if you like. By playing through the Bolt DS adventure, youll unlock a bunch of cool features you can use to further enhance your DGamer experience.
As a single adventure, Bolt DS is mediocre. Its not a terrible game, but it greatly lacks focus and the mechanics are too loose to offer even mindless, button-mashing pleasure. Levels are repetitive, and the story and production values arent strong enough to support the lackluster gameplay. However, the unlockables available for DGamer are incentive enough to muddle through the adventure; the low level of challenge makes doing so an easy proposition. Additionally, there are a handful of challenges based on the Monkey Ball formula, and an unremarkable multiplayer offering also helps round out the package. Bolt DS might be worth a rent for fans of the movie, but only those folks who plan on making extended use of its DGamer tool should consider it for the long haul.
CCC Freelance Writer