All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Score: 58%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (3D)/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think we're ever going to see anything great come from trying to force 3D polygonal graphics onto the DS. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs does just this in the form of a 3D platformer to make things worse. You control a kind of snake-like dark blob that's supposed to be Buck, the adventure-seeking weasel character from the movie. When it's hard to tell if your little guy is dancing or having the life sucked out of him, it's time to step back and see if your graphics engine is doing you any good. Aside from the large dinosaurs, the landscape is pretty bland. There are lots of platform-ready rocks and vines, but the small things that are supposed to be plants and insects are just difficult to make out. Later in the game, the landscape gets a few nice little flowers and other elements to change things up, but for the most part, it all blends together.

Music is about what you'd expect for a game based off an animated movie. It sounds very much like a movie soundtrack, but because it's for the kids, the music stays light-hearted and never gets too "scary." Of course, it would be hard to maintain a serious atmosphere with all the "boinks" and other cartoony side effects. Other than that, the voices in the game sound as if they were mostly voiced by the cast of the movie. Sid, the clutzy sloth character from the movie, narrates a story in cut scenes that occur between levels. Buck occasionally yells out a one liner or yells out during the game, and otherwise most of the cast of the movie will make a cameo or two.


If you extracted the story from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs out of the game, you'd wonder what kind of person, even what kind of kid would subject themselves to 94 minutes of a movie about the same thing. The story told by Sid goes something like this: Buck loved danger (cut to entire level of gameplay), one time Buck faced a terrible monster (cut to entire level of gameplay), and Buck was a crazy guy (cut to entire level of gameplay). Yep, you got it. Mindless movie tie-in is the name of this game.

There are some parts of the game that could be considered cute. The squirrel, Scrat, will make an appearance whenever you discover an acorn. He usually ends up being squashed by a dinosaur foot or otherwise abused by some chance falling rock or other slip up, but again, with the graphics in this game, it's difficult to make out much of this slapstick humor. If there were silly expressions or something else happening, you would have no way of knowing.

Most of the game consists of Buck's platforming adventures where he fights everything from caterpillars to deadly spike-shooting plants. Between these levels, however, you'll occasionally have to complete one of Sid's mini-games. You'll have to keep his adopted brood of T-Rex babies sleeping soundly by fighting off other noisy dinosaurs. You'll slingshot projectiles at dinosaurs by pulling back on Sid's head. This is rather enjoyable until the added element of trying to "shhhh" the babies back to sleep is added in. You have to tap on a waking baby T-Rex and say "shhhh" into the microphone. But the game apparently wants a "shhhh" so loud and long that it would wake the dead, so it gets to be very aggravating very fast.


Your typical 3D platformer, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs doesn't try to be anything else, so the challenges are fairly predictable. You will encounter the following: timed geysers of steam, disappearing platforms, icicles that fall from the ceiling when you are close, and annoying endless projectile attacks. Whether you enjoy the challenge of timed jumping and running will make a world of difference because this game is difficult because it is so aggravating. There are long sequences that you'll have to repeat if you fail because the checkpoints are so far apart.

The good thing is, you can earn some help. You'll collect gems in each level that you can trade for powerups like unlimited life. It takes a while to earn enough for these, so you may end up wanting to drop the game before you get to that point.

The 3D element itself seems needless and aggravating. You have very narrow platforms to stand on, and when the game requires you to move into the foreground or background, it's easy to misjudge distance and fall.

Game Mechanics:

Though this is a fairly simple platformer for the most part, there's still a lack of polish that keeps it from being a solid one. Buck has so many different moves that it's easy to accidentally hit the wrong one. In some situations, such as hanging on to a platform, you simply should not be able to wall jump yourself into an abyss. These are the things that produce dents in sheetrock and broken DS units. It's just not right. Another particular drawback is the fact that there is some sort of zoom-in feature to the game, but it's not documented if it is indeed a feature. So what will probably happen is you'll discover the screen randomly zooms in on you and disorients you at the most inopportune times.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is by no means unplayable, but it's the sort of soulless creation that doesn't give you much incentive to work with it long enough to learn to play it well. It's repetitive, the story wouldn't be exciting even to a fan of the characters, and it has elements like gem collecting don't even make sense in this movie universe. It's hard to even recommend a rental on this one.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Sony PlayStation 3 Droplitz Nintendo DS Dawn of Discovery

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated