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M&M's Adventure - NDS - Review

Gw

Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 1.8 Abysmal

Since the beginning of video games, developers have tried to coin a new property – or merely earn some coin – by taking advantage of an existing franchise that has no relation to interactive entertainment. Case in point: M&M's. One could argue that the act of opening a bag, grabbing a handful and pouring them into your mouth is interactive. But are these crispy-coated candies really made for gaming?

Having created three notable characters (Red, Yellow and Green) with several years' worth of clever advertising, M&M's are certainly worthy of a trip into other mediums. Unfortunately, their latest trip has created somewhat of a time travel effect that will take gamers back to the dark and scary days of Bubsy 3D.

If you want to get specific and technical, the Nintendo DS version of M&M’s Adventure is probably better than Bubsy 3D. I haven't played the latter game for more than 12 years but its memory won’t let me forget that it's the worst game of its kind. M&M’s Adventure is not quite that bad and maybe, just maybe could have been good...had the developers given us something to do. The lack of player accomplishment is the beginning of this game's problems, which stretch from moderate tedium (no real goals outside of item collection) to pure unrelenting boredom (the super-slow frame rate is literally dragging) and to the dreaded area of frustration/unavoidably annoying (the awkward camera makes platform-hopping a chore).

As Red, players can fly with his snazzy gliding wings – an addition that makes little sense from a candy perspective but was a more creative development choice than having no wings at all. The controls are a choppy version of Star Fox, minus the consistent frame rate and cool visuals of that game. Yellow, Red's best bud, can get a bit nutty with his ability to jump twice as high as the others. Green, of course, loves to play tennis. This was never established in her M&M’s ads (not that I can remember, at least), but in M&M’s Adventure she comes equipped with a tennis racket, ready to take on any threat that keeps her from collecting the essential candy pieces.

When not using their special powers, the three M&M’s heroes control like any character in an action/adventure. That could have worked out great, but there's never a moment where the game does anything exciting. You run around several environments (all of which look like they belong on a machine developed before the first PlayStation – maybe the Philips CD-I would have been a better fit?) and do...nothing! Enemy encounters rarely involve any form of combat, as Red and Yellow have no way of defending themselves. Green's tennis racket defense is barely a defense, and should never, ever be mistaken for an offense. Thus, your only job is to collect 120 M&M’s candies. Most of them are obvious, and those that aren't are usually hidden by an obstructed view or poorly designed level texture, creating a scenario that artificially hides the tasty morsel your tongue craves.

Which again, if the technical mistakes hadn't been employed, could have worked, especially in the early days of 3D gaming when we were all so desperate for a Mario 64 successor. But then there's the problem of speed and functionality, two elements M&M’s Adventure just doesn't have. The frame rate is painfully slow, the camera is even slower, and the characters move with a sluggish feeling you won't soon forget (but will surely want to).

If the stars had been aligned and none of the above had occurred, there'd still be one more hurdle for M&M’s Adventure to overcome: candy collecting alone isn't fun. For starters, the levels are very bland. But more important than that, if you think about all the action/adventures that people love to play (even obscure kiddie junk like Croc), they all incorporate multiple types of objectives. They aren’t merely comprised of four walls, a ceiling, several platforms and 120 collectible items.

Review Scoring Details for M&M's Adventure

Gameplay: 1.9
Run around (very sluggishly), collect M&M's candies and... And...! Rats, there's nothing else.

Graphics: 1.0
The word "dated" doesn't quite cut it. These super low-end graphics are about as bad as you can get for a 3D DS game.

Sound: 1.0
Torture in a music box.

Difficulty: Easy
Just walk and collect. Walk, turn the sluggish camera, and collect.

Concept: 1.0
It's a 3D action/adventure, minus the action and the adventure.

Overall: 1.8
Not worth the time of any M&M's lover, and should be vehemently avoided by fans of the action/adventure genre. Do yourself a favor and buy a few bags of M&M's instead – they're much cheaper, several times more enjoyable, and won't leave you with a horrible aftertaste.

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