|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, Xbox, GC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Heavy Iron Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 26, 2007||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|
by Maria Montoro
July 9, 2007 - Ratatouille has quickly become one of my favorite animated movies to date. With its clever humor, beautiful and colorful visuals, great character design, and surprisingly engaging plot, I just can't resist to the wonders of Ratatouille. Because it's going to be a long wait until I can pick up the DVD, I thought I'd entertain myself a little by playing the video game of the same name and reliving the story of the cute mouse named Remy (Yes, I said cute!).
For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, you should know that Remy is a country mouse who lives in a farm along with his whole family which is, as you might expect, very large and has quite an appetite for any kind of food they can find! Luckily, the old grandma who lives in the farm has a well assorted pantry and lots of garbage all over the place. The mice take advantage of this and live a good life, filling up their bellies as much as they can. Remy is not very interested in junk food; he has a more delicate palate and dreams of being a chef (not that mice could be chefs, but we all have our dreams, right?). One day they run out of luck and have to storm out of the farm; circumstances take Remy to the city of Paris, and he ends up in none other than the restaurant of his dreams, Gusteau's. Do you want to know more? Watch the movie! It's worth it!
Unfortunately, the story is not as gracefully told on the video game. Lots of key moments are skipped and the plot seems broken into pieces a little bit; it definitely lost part of the charm with its short and simple cutscenes. Also, the game doesn't belong to the action / adventure genre, but instead to platforming. Platforming is fun when it offers good level design and user-friendly controls; on the same token, platforming can be extremely painful and frustrating when controls are inaccurate, camera issues are present, and the gameplay is linear and repetitive. It's important to think outside the box and design imaginative levels, with varied and random obstacles, little repetition, and plausible controls. Ratatouille doesn't offer any of the above; each of the six environments presents the same kind of obstacles and boring objectives that are far from easy to accomplish.
Ratatouille should be a game designed with kids in mind, since it's based on a family movie. Before playing the game I could imagine lots of daddies (and mommies) playing with their children and sharing the video game experience. After playing it, I could just imagine enraged parents trying to make it to the next level, uninterested kids, bored to distraction because they can't play, their parents keep falling in the same spot over and over, and the story won't continue! Where's the fun in that?
You'll control Remy as he climbs up to ledges, jumps on top of boxes, cars, tables, and again, more boxes. He'll slowly walk across tightropes, while you control his balance. He'll climb up pipes, chicken wire, and air vents. If you have him jump on top of a ball, he'll also juggle around with it. That's the extent of his actions, which would be okay if the game was well designed, but there are just a whole lot of bad camera angles and lots of unpleasant jump, climb, fall, die, and do-it-again-from-the-beginning situations that make the game a living hell. This game gives too much importance to the position from where you jump, the distance you're at from the destination, and the length of the jump; I personally enjoy games that are a bit more laid back, that allow the action to continue at a good pace, and don't just let you drown in a painful trial and error situation, like Ratatouille persistently does. If you're going to be demanding of player skills, please, give us at least good camera angles so the rat doesn't climb up in one side of the wall and, all of a sudden, appear in the other side, end up trapped in the middle of a whiskey barrel with no way out! Moments like this just make one want to throw the game out the window, and I didn't do it because it was a rental and I didn't want to pay for it.
Each level will consist of picking up some colored charms scattered all over the place. You won't be able to continue with the story and play the missions until you have the required number of charms. This slows down the rhythm of the gameplay considerably and manages to make you lose the interest quickly. You will gradually unlock minigames as well, which consist of races with obstacles, picking up stars while jumping around in a rotating platform, and other silly and bland games that are not easy to play and become unrewarding in the end when luck is finally on your side. You can play these minigames from the main menu if you wish, but I doubt they'll catch many people's interest. Some of them allow for up to four-player competition, whereas others are just made for one-player action.