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Disney Pixar Ratatouille

Score: 83%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Platformer (3D)/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

So from one side of my mouth, I have said that movie games, hands down, have nothing to offer gamers. I have mentioned the rare exceptions to this LAW (it is no longer a rule) with games like Riddick, King Kong, and recently for me, Surf's Up. But I recently had a chance to play three versions of the game Ratatouille, and once again I am surprised by their level of content. Now the actual main gameplay is a little bit static, but there is a lot of content to keep you engaged.

The graphics engine for the GameCube is beginning to show its age now that I am used to looking at next-gen and HD. Tires are definite polygons and not smooth, round objects. There is so much of this angular look to the game you might assume that it is on purpose, but I think it is more of doing the best you can with what you have. The lion's share of the graphical power is dedicated to making the character look, act and move as true as their big-screen counterparts.

Soundtracks and sound effects are usually all but done for movie inspired games. Rarely will you have a ton of music scores to rewrite. You will have a lot of voicework to take care of and lines to read, but even there you already have established characters.


Gameplay:

Besides the normal "play along with the movie" style of gaming, Ratatouille has a lot of side gaming to do. With the regular game, you will assume the movie's main role of Remy. Remy is a rat with a nose for cooking. First things first, there are a few important lessons; so you start out with the tutorial. You will be asked to perform many acts of balancing and jumping from here to there; all standard fare for a platformer. Work your way through the movie scene by scene to follow Remy's adventure and earn points. But it just begins with the standard game. Under the Extras, you will find four sections: Gusteau's shop, Single-Player Mini-Games, Multiplayer Mini-games, and Championship, where you can spend those hard earned points to continue the fun.

In Gusteau's Shop, you will be able to purchase new game modes, levels, bonus art, movie clips, concept art and secrets. It is all about the new game modes, where you can buy Dream Worlds mode, Cooking Stations mode, Slides, Multiplayer Mini-Games and Cooking Stations Championship. What is a game about a cooking rat without, well you know... cooking. Under the movie section, you can purchase previews of upcoming movies. There are tons of levels to be purchased for the new game modes. This all serves to make a big game even bigger with plenty to explore.

You get the idea behind Mini-Games and Multiplayer; square off against your friends in the Championship and Cooking Station Championship to be top chef. Well, not really, but hey -- you can't burn your hand on the controller.


Difficulty:

Ratatouille is a platformer, and the three keys to success in any platformer are timing, timing and timing. Patience never hurt anyone. They do a decent job of throwing in some other game elements, like stealth, to throw you off of the platformer tedium, but do not get your hopes up from this break, as you will be doing the same moves and tricks the whole game. If you find that there is a lesson that has gone unlearned, you can always travel to the tutorial at any time to regain your skills. With that being said, you just need timing, timing and timing and all will be well. If you happen to lose your way in a mission, there is an interesting "scent vision" you can trigger and it will show a bold blue line to your next destination. Thanks, Toucan Sam!

Game Mechanics:

Ratatouille is full of other interesting mechanics, besides the stealth, that make your movement, dare I say, more animated. You have your jump and sprint, all fairly standard fare. You also have two different balancing abilities. Did we need two? I don't know. One is Remy standing on his hind legs tight rope style across a rope. You can control his balance with the shoulder buttons. The second was an automatic scamper across slightly larger and wider paths. It could have worked the same for both, but hey, it worked. You will also find yourself swinging gymnastics style from protrusions on the wall -- very Lara Croft.

There is so much more to this game than a static movie game. It was because of this, and only because of this effort, that I see it as a better-than-average movie-turned-game. Between the multiplayer interaction for everyone to play together and the single player mini-games, there is plenty to keep you busy. Then, there's the cooking and the bonus materials. This is a very good pick for the appropriate age range. There is plenty for multiple players to get into. I would have only liked to have seen a Cooperative mode to make it more sibling friendly. But, nicely done. If we can just fix the "game on rails to a known end" part, we will have solved the age old problem of movies as games.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Sony PlayStation 2 Hitman Trilogy Windows Trackmania: United

 
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