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

The controls don’t fare so well, unfortunately. The game is designed to work without a Nunchuk, which is fine, but it can get irritating having to point at the screen and hold the A button whenever you want to move (which is pretty much always). Your character will often get stuck around corners, and the navigation problem gets about 100 times worse during a mini-game that requires you to drive a moon rover; it’s almost impossible to avoid the various obstacles, though you’re given enough time for the task that completing it isn’t really a problem. It would be really nice if those of us with Nunchuks could sub in the joystick for the point-and-click system.

Space Camp screenshot

Another problem is that the mini-games are unoriginal and get a bit repetitive. There’s a good deal of overlap with other recent Wii games, such as Six Flags Fun Park: basketball, light-gun-style shooting, collecting items by controlling a crane (similar to the arcade machines with stuffed animals), and even a take-off on the classic board game Operation. Also, you play many of the same games over and over, and it gets boring walking between the same few locations and digging up moon rocks all the time.

These issues probably won’t hurt the experience for a small, easily entertained child, but the game’s random difficulty fluctuations could send such a player into one serious temper tantrum. For the most part, the mini-games are easy enough that an experienced adult player can beat them on the first try, and that a child won’t get too frustrated. Every once in a while, though, you’ll come to some insanely difficult task without enough time to complete it. For example, before taking off for the moon, there’s a simulation of a cockpit that’s caught fire, and you have to put out the flames by aiming a water cannon without a reticule. It’s maddening trying to adjust your aim without a guide, and the animation is such that it’s hard to tell when you’ve put out a given section of the fire completely. Also, before we got the hang of the second meteor shower, we almost started crying, screaming, and pounding our fists on the floor ourselves.

The biggest problem we experienced was that we couldn’t get the game to end. Our last mission was to explore a new area and get the energy from nine solar generators. We did this and put the energy in the fuel tank, which put us close to the amount of fuel we needed to get home. Then, when we checked our mission screen, it said there were no missions available. Assuming the only thing left was to fill the tank, we converted our moon rocks to energy until we had enough, and the tank confirmed we’d deposited more than 100 percent of the needed fuel.

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We were a little confused that after filling the tank, nothing else happened. Then, when we interacted with our robot companion, he gave us the mission to get the energy from the generators again. We double-checked and we had, in fact, already exploited all nine generators. Then we defended against another meteor attack, which the game called “The Second Wave” even though we’d already battled two waves. Then it took us back to the generator-finding mission. When we restarted the console, we came back to the same situation: full tank, all nine generators in the new area tapped, the game telling us we need to tap all nine generators in the new area in order to fill the tank. We’re still not sure how to get the poor little kid back to Earth.

Now, it says a lot about the poor state of mini-game collections on the Wii that a title with such a profound flaw isn’t the bottom of the barrel, but it’s true. Aside from these complaints, Space Camp does what it does well. There’s probably not much here you haven’t seen before, but there’s a cute story, reasonably interesting graphics, and games that, for the most part, work. Sad as it is, for these reasons, if you’re looking to invest in some mini-games, it might not be a terrible idea to include Space Camp on your list of contenders.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.3
Graphics
It’s no graphical powerhouse, but the visuals run smoothly and have a lot of personality.
3.0
Control
The game could have benefited from Nunchuk support; it’s annoying having to use the pointer to make the character walk.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This is one of the game’s better aspects, with voice acting and unobtrusive, fitting music.
3.0

Play Value
3.0. There’s a full day’s worth of material here and lots of unlockables. However, it gets repetitive, and we encountered an apparent glitch that stopped us from beating the game.

3.1
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • A secondary A.I. character in the form of a small robot named ARP follows the main character around, interfaces at certain times, and gives hints on what to do next if the player gets stuck.
  • Filled with fun, Wii-specific missions and a cool environment to explore, all wrapped up in an enjoyable, character-based adventure.
  • Wii-specific controls enable you to dig up space rocks, shake training simulators, and drill on the lunar surface with the Wii remote.
  • Compete against up to three friends in the robust mini-game tournament party mode.
  • Customize your character as a boy or girl, pick skin tone, and earn or find new space-suit pieces and other clothing to update your character's appearance as the game progresses.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Space Camp screenshot - click to enlarge Space Camp screenshot - click to enlarge Space Camp screenshot - click to enlarge Space Camp screenshot - click to enlarge

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