|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 dont 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; its almost impossible to avoid the various obstacles, though youre given enough time for the task that completing it isnt 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.
Another problem is that the mini-games are unoriginal and get a bit repetitive. Theres 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 wont hurt the experience for a small, easily entertained child, but the games 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 wont get too frustrated. Every once in a while, though, youll come to some insanely difficult task without enough time to complete it. For example, before taking off for the moon, theres a simulation of a cockpit thats caught fire, and you have to put out the flames by aiming a water cannon without a reticule. Its maddening trying to adjust your aim without a guide, and the animation is such that its hard to tell when youve 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 couldnt 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 wed deposited more than 100 percent of the needed fuel.
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 wed 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. Were 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 isnt the bottom of the barrel, but its true. Aside from these complaints, Space Camp does what it does well. Theres probably not much here you havent seen before, but theres a cute story, reasonably interesting graphics, and games that, for the most part, work. Sad as it is, for these reasons, if youre looking to invest in some mini-games, it might not be a terrible idea to include Space Camp on your list of contenders.
CCC Freelance Writer