|System: PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atari||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E +10||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
Atari helps remind you how much you loved the Treasure Trolls from the nineties. I know what you're thinking, another movie made into a game equals crap. However, this latest movie-to-game adaptation stands out in an attempt to erase the movie-to-game curse.
The story follows the movie very closely. You play as Arthur, a kid on a quest to prevent his grandmother's home from being foreclosed on. Joining you are the prince, Betameche, and princess, Selenia, of the Minimoys. You'll start your journey in the Minimoy village, travel all the way to Necropolis, save the Minimoys, and prevent grandma's home foreclosure. Along the way you'll also be taught a lesson in teamwork, ad nauseam. Completely faithful to the movie's storyline, the game is long and in depth, but at certain moments you might wish the levels and the game itself were shorter. Atari even went the extra step by adding an option at the very beginning of the game to choose which level you want to play. Doing this in the story mode, however, limits the amount of extras you can view. The extras in this game are like a DVD, so you might want to play through the whole story first.
The dynamics of the game are refreshing. Instead of treating us to a harsh rehash of past platform adventure games, Arthur and the Invisibles aspires to introduce a younger audience to other genres without making it trivial. While an adventure/action game at heart, Atari included elements from other games, for instance, puzzles, like the Tomb Raider franchise. Even though puzzles are nothing new to rave about, it is the slightly increased level of each new puzzle you face. One puzzle could be to just stack a block here and there, but then the next puzzle consists of you using each of the three characters to unlock a certain treasure. This is both a good thing and bad. The repetition of move a block here and there and the length of dragging or pushing a block harm the effectiveness of the puzzles sometimes. Flying on the back of a mosquito and driving in a matchbox car are welcome additions to the game, though it never seems like you've done either long enough. There is even a small hint of an RPG present as well.
Each character is given their own unique abilities. Arthur is the acrobat of the group, mimicking the good prince of the Prince of Persia series without the complexity of aerial combos. Arthur also climbs and leaps from ledge to ledge, just like a certain prince. Betameche, the long range weapon wielder, spends most of the time charming snails, a mini-game that requires semi-quick reflexes. Then there is Selenia, the sword wielding warrior princess, who spends most of her time cutting down brambles. Switching between the three just takes a simple press of a button. Much like the rest of the controls, combos, which at times look very similar to God of War without the blood and bone-crunching agony, are simple and easy to pull off even for the inexperienced gamer.
Lavish backgrounds almost overshadow the character models. Most of the attention was given to the three stars of the game which look flawless when compared to the film. The attention to the detail of the environments is what stands out the most though. Because of this attention to detail, the switch between film clips and game content is hard to catch if you haven't seen the film. Unfortunately, having this much detail in the backgrounds makes the environments too busy after a while, which is the same reason that many movie critics gave for disliking the movie. Arthur, Betameche, and Selenia are perfectly captured, but the rest of the Minimoys come up short comparatively. Despite the lack of detail to the other characters, the seamless blend between the film and game is a step in the right direction of making better film-to-movie games.
One of the most obvious distractions is the voice acting. Missing are the stars of the film, Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, David Bowie, etc., and actually it is a let down. However, the film cutscenes have the actual voices of the stars. If that doesn't give you enough David Bowie, nothing will. The dramatic and playful music captures the sense of peril, urgency, and the fun of the movie. The drawback of the voice acting, including the background voices, is the rapid fire of the dialogue. It becomes annoying and takes a few levels of gameplay to get used to the hyper speak, unless you already talk as fast as a Minimoy.
Arthur and the Invisibles is a diamond among coal game. Giving you a multi-genre gaming experience in one title is innovative, and Atari really shines with the progressive steps they have taken to improve upon the tried and true formula of platform games. Even with a few shortcomings, Arthur and the Invisibles should be on the list of every aspiring gamer out there.
By Matthew Walker
CCC Freelance Writer