Gene Wilder’s Ghost! This game based on the movie by Tim Burton, based on the dark and wonderful novel by Roald Dahl is atrocious. And not “atrociously good fun” either. Simply atrocious. It’s like biting into an Oh Henry and discovering that it is indeed, a big fat solid chunk of stanky human dung and undigested peanuts.
At CCC we like to give games developed for children the benefit of the doubt and we admit to being a little lightfooted in these kinds of reviews because clearly hardcore gamers and 6-year-olds have vast differences separating their tastes, wants and desires when it comes to gaming. But in the case of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, something went a little wonky wonka, on the way from conception to gold and whatever that something was, will frustrate those gamers silly enough to venture too close to the product (ie: turning the on the power button and actually pressing Start).
Games based on popular movies are all too often “me too” 3D platform/collecting adventures void of the magic and originality which captured the audiences imagination enough to warrant the product in the first place. This fate is entitely reminiscent of the many side-scrolling licensed products turned videogames found on the SNES and Genesis 10 years ago. While the graphics and hardware have evolved, the impetus to make a quick buck on a lousy product has not – and therefore we will probably never rid ourselves of this vicious cycle, as inexplicably these pathetic ham-fisted movie tie ins continue to make money. Although it’s not entirely fair to fingerpoint, when it was announced that Titus – who was responsible for creating and publishing one of the worst licensed games ever created, the dreadful Superman 64 – had in actuality made a tidy profit from the sales (due mostly in part to ignorant consumers: aka grandparents and colorful box art) the floodgates opened.
CATCF stars Charlie, the movies protagonist and you’ll run, jump, collect candy, throw candy, fix machines and solve puzzles while you work your way through Willy’s fantastic chocolate factory. Unfortunately the game play is utterly catatonic and without any imagination which I shouldn’t have to mention is in complete contrast to the original subject matter by Dahl.
As mentioned at the start, kids games are held to lower standards in our reviews as long as they are designed for the abilities of younger children. Unfortunately the game suffers from unintuitive design and vague objectives which will frustrate even the most patient player. Without knowing what to do and where to do it, you’ll have to resort to trial and error. I was convinced that the game was broken a few times and no one was more surprised than me to find out that indeed, that was the case. CATCF is rife with glitches and other coding anomalies which will allow Charlie to get into or fall into places he shouldn’t, therefore freezing the game or completely halting progress; only restarting the system will fix the problem. I hate that. At other times the current objective was so utterly nebulous that I might as well have consulted tea leaves and the neighborhood witch doctor for further instruction.
The game looks appealing and tries hard to capture the bizarre look, sound and feel of Burton’s sets and characters, but it’s as phony as Willy Wonka himself. The pretty colors are only present to distract you from the appalling gameplay inadequacies and the voice acting by the movie Charlie is welcome, but in the end it doesn’t matter.
If you enjoyed the book and either of the two movies, leave it at that. Any attempt to extend your enjoyment of the subject matter by playing this game will leave a bad, bitter taste in your mouth that no chocolate bar or sweet candy will erase. You’ve been duly warned.