Space Camp Review
Space Camp box art
System: Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Activision 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 26, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

If a little-known publisher had put out Space Camp, it would be rather easy to dismiss the title as shovelware; it’s a collection of mini-games loosely woven together to form a story. With Activision at the helm, expectations rise a little.

Space Camp screenshot

The game is indeed an enjoyable experience, especially for kids, but there are more problems than there should be: the controls are a bit annoying, the mini-games are unoriginal and get repetitive, the difficulty could have used some fine-tuning, and we encountered a serious glitch that can completely ruin the end of the game. There’s really no need to buy Space Camp, though if you’re intent on picking up a Wii mini-game collection, you could do worse.

At the outset, you’re attending (guess) space camp to learn how to be an astronaut. When you’re allowed to get on a rocket, however, you push a button that sends you into space, and you land on the moon. To get back to Earth, you have to find enough fuel to fill the ship’s tanks. Your robot sidekick, ARP, provides guidance and gives you missions.

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For the most part, the idea is to explore as much of the U.S.’s moon base as possible. To do this, you’ll need to find various tools to help you open the doors and storage lockers. Some of these tools you find scattered around, but others you have to make out of metal. You’ll find metal occasionally, but more often, you’ll have to dig up moon rocks (a simple process involving walking on the surface of the moon, finding rocks, and shaking the Wii-mote near them) and convert them.

Space Camp screenshot

When you use these tools, the mini-games come into play. For example, when you repair a broken connection, you play the most fun one, a game similar to Pipe Dream that involves directing electrical current to its receivers without hitting a circuit breaker (you swap the tiles, rather than placing new tiles as in Pipe Dream, though). To win another game, you have to shoot a ball of “data” at the core of a computer without hitting the protective shields that revolve around it. Occasionally there’ll be a meteor storm, and you’ll need to head to the base’s defense station to shoot at rocks (a direct rip-off of a scene in Dead Space, of course).

As the game world opens up, you’ll get closer and closer to your fuel goal, especially when you find solar-power generators, which contain lots of energy. You can also convert moon rocks directly to energy (a very slow process) and find it in piles of moon dust (an even slower one). Many of the lockers and doors are optional, and simply provide you with unlockables like new outfits.

Space Camp screenshot

Space Camp’s presentation certainly isn’t groundbreaking, but the character you customize, the humans and robots you interact with, and the world you explore all have their own personalities, and we didn’t notice a single graphical hiccup in our time with the game. As is typical for a kid-friendly Wii game, it’s a colorful visual experience, and even dangerous things are more cute than menacing. The sound works beautifully, with lots of voice acting, well-done sound effects, and soothing music that fits the space theme.

Overall, we found Space Camp fun. The story is a lot cleverer than most of what’s on the Wii these days, and most of the mini-games work well. The game saves constantly, so you never have to redo games you’ve already won, and when you fail a game, you’re given another chance immediately, without losing anything. There’s about a full work-day’s worth of material here, plus the option to play some of the games against friends.

Screenshots / Images
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