|System: X360, PS3, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Where the Wild Things are is a classic children's book which has captured the imagination of children for decades. Although the recent movie has been praised by critics, some parents have said that the movie's themes feel too adult considering the intended audience. The movie might be the subject of this controversy, but this accusation can't be made of the game. When it comes to simplistic gameplay, 'Wild Things' hits every note perfectly. However, these notes are more than just a tinge sour.
The game doesn't really have much of a plot, which should come as no surprise as the book (and to some extent, the movie) don't really have much of a concrete plot either. The game opens with Max mindlessly following a Wild Thing around, while meteors fall from the sky and bugs threaten to sting. Max will also have to jump over canyons, slide across vines, and water plants in his pursuit of the Wild Thing. The action in the game is very tame, and even on the game's hardest setting, its doubtful that you'll ever feel immediate peril. Although this certainly makes the game yawn-worthy for battle-tested, hardcore gamers, it does make it much more approachable for younger kids.
The approachability factor of the game is certainly a positive aspect, but it comes with a negative side: repetition. After a few levels, I figured there would be more to the game than just running around collecting items, running and jumping, and beating up bugs, but that dream never materialized. There are some levels that branch away from the format slightly - the game has a pseudo-vehicle level that involves riding on a Wild Thing's back. But other than that small diversion, all the game's levels suffer from chronic sameness, which will likely bore even the most easily entertained children.
Controls are a good fit for the gameplay, however, using the left stick for moving around, one button for jumping, and another for attacking. Where the Wild Things Are doesn't have much in the way of a combat system, and attacking bugs involves either whacking them a few times with Max's stick or just holding the button for a higher powered attack. As you progress in the game, you'll be able to throw things and even use a pea-shooter, but the controls never really evolve past pressing the single attack button.
The only replay value that this game has (and the only real challenge for gamers old enough to read) lies in the extensive collection quests that are laid out across the different levels and the game's hub area. Before every level you'll be able to explore the base camp of the Wild Things, complete with helpful characters that can heal you and side missions that involve interacting with the environment. There is a surprising amount of things to discover in the hub, and talking to the Wild Things will net you additional collection quests throughout the levels of the story mode. However, if collecting a mass amount of items is not your idea of a good time, then there isn't much here.
Although the gameplay is a little on the dull side, I have to say that the most disappointing facet of the game has to be the portrayal of the Wild Things in the game. The game depicts these creatures as completely boring beings that hardly ever speak, or do anything meaningful beyond just shuffling around their forested home. The Wild Things' interactions with Max are minimal, and while most levels will have you following around a Wild Thing, the creatures will only say a few generic and repetitive lines to Max, and certainly don't treat him like a friend, king, or even acquaintance. While the movie version of Wild Things explores complex social relationships, the game is its antithesis. No one in the game has any relationships, and any hint of larger goals or a plot beyond killing bugs and watering plants is nowhere to be found.