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Disney's Chicken Little: Ace in Action

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Buena Vista
Developer: DC Studios
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2 (WiFi)
Genre: Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Licensed games will forever be the Screech of released games. Every system has its amazing-looking, but terribly shallow Kellies and smart, but not all that attractive Jessies, but a majority of any systemís catalog is usually made up of awkward outcasts. While this is usually the case, some games, like Chicken Little: Ace in Action, manage to break out of the stereotype and put on a solid show.

Ace in Action pulls off some of the better visuals seen on the system. Rather than try and push the systems limits, Ace does what it can with the DSís hardware, resulting in a clean, colorful look. At any given time, dozens of things can be happening on screen -- small armies of enemies, numerous salvos and explosions galore. Despite it all, the game keeps up a good framerate.

The gameís soundtrack is appropriate and typical for an over-the-top space adventure.


Gameplay:

Chicken Little: Ace in Action builds on the movie within a movie seen at the end of Chicken Little, placing Chicken Little and his friends in the roles of space-faring adventure seekers.

Gameplay is separated into three types, though each is fundamentally the same. As you travel from planet to planet, you will play as Ace in on-foot ground missions or as Runt in tank-based ones. These two mission types share the most similarities. Youíll also play as Abby during vertical shooter levels.

Levels are set up as top-down shooters. During these levels, you use the D-pad to move and the face buttons to shoot in different directions. The setup is similar to Smash TV, and may be a little complex for the gameís audience, but works surprisingly well. Enemies come from all directions, so youíll find yourself constantly changing the direction of your shots while pushing forward towards you next mission goal.

The scheme is different and may feel intimidating, though as you progress through the game, you come to appreciate the flexibility. Regardless of you who you are playing as, the mechanics work the same way, giving you more than enough time to learn how to do everything.

Ace and Abbyís levels are the most enjoyable of the three types, with Abbyís taking a slight edge. Runtís levels arenít terrible, but they arenít as fun as the other two either. A big reason for this is that the tank isnít the most maneuverable of vehicles and is hard to control. It isnít to the point that it is unplayable, but it is easy to become overwhelmed by enemies as you wait for the tankís slower reaction time. Runtís tank does have a special cannon that can target multiple enemies, but you have to get so close to use it that it isnít all that useful. Even the inclusion of a ďrun downĒ attack doesnít help and makes the tank a little harder to control.

Two-player mini-games are also available, though I was unable to test them.


Difficulty:

I had originally written the game off as just another blow-through shooter, but was surprised at how complex and challenging the game is. Enemies come out of the woodwork and show up everywhere, including areas you had previously cleared out. With the near endless stream of enemies comes slower pacing as you are trying to blast through waves of enemies. Again, youíll come to love the shooting mechanic. Running isnít much of an option since enemies will follow and are joined by respawning reinforcements.

In addition to the shooting mechanics, Chicken Little: Ace in Action also introduces other complex actions. You have a shield, evasive maneuvers and grenades with a blast radius (there is actually a part in the tutorial that provides an in-depth explanation of blast radiiĖ another thing I wasn't expecting). Personally, I enjoyed the challenge level and the mechanics behind everything, but it may prove to be too complex for really young players. Then again, if my job has taught me anything, kids will surprise you, so use your best judgement.


Game Mechanics:

Ace and his crew start with basic peashooters that donít do much damage. As they travel through levels, theyíll uncover special weapons which are selected by touching the bottom screen. Each weapon has its own capabilities and is used in different situations. A shotgun-like weapon is good for close-quarters fighting, while a wide-shot weapon can take out large groups.

During levels, you can collect aliens which act as in-game currency. Between levels, you can purchase upgrades. They arenít cheap and cover a range of attributes, adding another level of strategy. It is possible to go for a balanced build, though I eventually found myself going for a more offensive build.

All in all, Chicken Little: Ace in Action is a solid shooter that might be a little too complicated for the young audience it is geared towards. But, if you are a fan of shooters, especially of the Smash TV or Robotron variety, Ace in Action is worth a try.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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