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Chicken Little: Ace in Action

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Buena Vista
Developer: Avalanche Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Platformer/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Chicken Little: Ace in Action is a solid game that is fun to play and packs an unexpected amount of punch... for a movie-licence, anyway.

Visually, the game not only does a pretty good job of recreating the action-movie stars depicted in the Chicken Little movie, but when the four main characters (the "real world" versions of these action heroes) are shown, they aren't all that bad either.

As far as sound is concerned, Ace in Action, here again, surprised me. I would normally expect some soundtracks from the movie, as well as the actors reprising their roles from a tie-in like this. But Ace in Action upped the ante with added audio aspects like Adam West playing Commander Little, and a whole slew of perfectly fitting background music and sound effects.

One part of the game that hit me, originally, is the fact that while you are controlling Ace and his crew, you will hear Chicken Little, Runt, Abby and Fish comment about what is going on. If you aren't sure exactly why that would even occur, read the next section.


Gameplay:

Okay, so Chicken Little: Ace in Action is actually a game that the gang pops in and starts playing - "the gang" being the kids from the movie. The game they are playing is a prequel loosely based on the movie that is even more loosely based on their adventure depicted in the Chicken Little movie that came out in 2005. It's a mouthful isn't it?

Put simply, you are playing as the kids playing the game. Though you don't actually look over their shoulders or anything, you do get the bonus of hearing them comment on the events. That, plus the fact that between some levels, you will cut away from the game-inside-the-game and watch as the four kids argue about whether girls can play games, Runt's emotional investment in the characters that prevents him from putting their lives in his hands, and Little's desire to skip over the story so he can blow some more stuff up.

Anyway... on to the game itself. Each level has you controlling one of three members of the Heifer (a knockoff of the Enterprise designed to look like a barn). You will control Commander Ace Little as he runs around third-person shooter levels blowing up everything in his sights. During these levels, you will also have to play the occasional mini-game as Mr. Fish in order to hack into security consoles.

As Runt (a boarish version of the big piggie), you will control a tank, again destroying everything that moves. And as Abby, you will control a hovercraft that allows you to fly around levels ... once again destroying everything. Each level type has a very different feel and really helps to keep the game's repetitive nature from feeling too overwhelming until later in the game.


Difficulty:

Chicken Little: Ace in Action is a fairly straightforward game when it comes to difficulty. I found that I could make steady progress and died only rarely. In fact, I'm not sure whether I ever died by losing all my health; I know most of the times I died was because I walked off some cliff into a bottomless pit.

Weapon refills and health packs are spaced at just the right places and they reappear after a time, so if you are stuck in a room with a ton of enemies (which happens fairly frequently), you won't ever really run out of health pickups. Between levels, you can buy various upgrades to your characters, so even those rooms get to be a little easier.


Game Mechanics:

As mentioned in Gameplay, Chicken Little: Ace in Action levels are divided into three types and each type has a different feel and control. While the basics of these controls are the same, the differences really help to set each style apart.

During Ace's levels, your control scheme is a lot like most shooters have been for this system. Your Wii-mote acts as a combination camera-control and sights. Whereever you point your Wii-mote is where you will shoot, and as you move towards the edges of the screen, the camera rotates and Ace turns.

When controlling Runt's tank, the basics are the same, but the camera/aiming mechanism feels a bit more detached from the movement aspect of the controls. Since you are controlling a tank and you can rotate it in any direction, being able to drive around in circles while having your guns wave in wildly different directions feels a lot smoother and ...well like I said, more detached than when controlling Ace.

Abby's hovercraft is probably the most interesting scheme, and was definitely the hardest one to get the hang of. Like Ace and Runt, you point where you want to shoot, and the camera will follow. Like Ace, the camera and movement controls don't feel quite as detached as they do when driving the tank, but the hovercraft has the added bonus of being able to go up and down simply by tilting the Nunchuck up or down. Like I said, this took some getting used to, but once I did, I was able to pilot the hovercraft with great precision.

For all of these modes, you have two types of weapons. Your main weapon is fired with the (B) button and your alternate weapon (the one with the limited ammo) is done with the (A).

Chicken Little: Ace in Action is just a fun game. I doubt many gamers will be able to pick it up and not enjoy the experience. What might throw some people off, however, is the Wii's different control scheme, but with practice and a little bit of time, those issues go away.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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