reviews\ Nov 25, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Ben 10: Protector of Earth - WII - Review

If you have ever caught Cartoon Network's original superhero series then you already know the story, but for those of you who don't know, Ben Tennyson is a smart aleck kid on vacation with his Cousin Gwen and Grandpa Max. The first day of vacation a meterorite crashes near him where he discovers a weird watch that gloms onto his wrist. The watch, called the Omnitrix is actually a very powerful weapon that house the DNA from 10 aliens within it's confines. Ben, discovers that by dialing the watch he can activate any one of the aliens and turn into them in order to do heroic deeds (and some mischief). As the series goes on, Ben finds that the watch replicates the DNA of any alien he comes into, and depending on what you see, he is actually up to Ben 15 and there is even an episode where he goes into the future and meets himself 20 plus years down the line and he is called Ben 10,000. The point is, he is young and impetuous, his cousin is his age but taller and smarter and his Grandfather just happens to be a former special op agent called a "plumber" and has had a career full of dealing with the weird and alien. The watch probably could not have found a better owner. Oh, and the time Ben turns into an alien is finite, so he needs to get his heroic deeds over with fast or the watch shuts down and takes a while to recharge.
So, now that you are caught up on the history of the show, how does this game make use of the license? Well, for starters I would have to say that it does a better job then most, but there is a few missteps. Now, as a grown man who has seen his share of Ben 10 episodes (with his children of course) I have some things that are good and some that are bad. So let's get down to it.

"Trust me, this isn't someone you want to arm wrestle."

In this rendition of the game, Ben only can play as five aliens, HeatBlast, Four-arms, XLR8, Cannonbolt, and Wildvine. This is where I first take issue, the name of the show is Ben 10, not Ben 5, and even though we have already established that he has more then ten aliens in his arsenal, he needed to at least have had the 10 original aliens, giving us only five was somewhat of a letdown for me. Next, when you start playing, you can only play as two of the alien... what the dickens is going on, right off, the developers have changed the formula of the show. He has 10 aliens in the beginning, and when he needs to go "alien" he activates the watch. Now, in the beginning, he never knew who was going to pop out from each activation, but as the series goes on, he has gotten a better handle of things. So, the developers could have used this as a crux, rather then only providing 2 aliens to start off with. How cool would it be to play the first few levels not knowing what alien you are going to get but having to have to deal with it. You heard it here first folks, if this gaming idea appears in another Ben 10 game, I get a cut of the profits or I am gonna riot in my living room. :)
OK, I won't completely shake down this game for the developers take on the license, I understand that there needs to be some gravity in the gameplay and giving so many options so early in a kids game may be overwhelming, I get that. So lets move our attention to the actual play of the game. Now in Ben 10, you pretty much do the whole side scroller action thing. You walk and as an alien, get to dole out punishment to all the baddies that come on screen. Sometimes when the screen gets full of bad guys you stop moving in the continuous gait, and must destroy all baddies to then keep moving. Interestingly enough, some of the boss battles aren't characters from the show (and trust me, there are quite a few) but even more interesting they are huge monstrosities who are often seen in the background of earlier levels, lumbering toward your inevitable battle. Now trust me when I say this was actually really cool and surprising as I had, at this point thought I was getting another dud. The game doesn't take as much advantage of the Wii's controls as I would have liked, but there is some wiggle and jiggle in the game's controls. So other then the minor moves, it feels and controls like a throwback action game, using the bare minimum of buttons to make it as easy as possible for five year olds out there.

"Feets, don't fail me now!"

The game could benefit from a little more animation from the show, yeah, it has cel shading and for the most part, it gets things done, but there is a certain amount of flair I wished the game had that the show does. Textures look pretty good and the boss battles as you can see above, are pretty impressive to look at. I thought the lighting effects were used well within the confines of the animation and everything moves at a decent clip so as to not become too confusing or difficult for players.
The show has a really catchy theme song, and if I need my four year old to get fired up about cartoons, all I have to do is start singing it, too bad the game doesn't have the same chutzpah in its rocking and rolling, the music is somewhat restrained and the sound effects are passable, but I would think with alien heroes that can run 400mph or lift five ton objects and make em' smash would be really crackin out of the speakers, but as it is, the sounds come out a little flat. 
There is a nifty little addition in the game where a second player can jump in and also play with the same five heroes. I enjoyed the additional gameplay and my little guys always appreciate it when Dad can play along with them in a game so "right up their alley".
Now I found this to be interesting, in the beginning of the game, there are places you cannot access since you do not have the right hero, so in order to take full advantage of all the hidden goodies in the game, it pays to go back to the beginning with all the heroes and really look around. Sure lots of games use this well used formula, but this one is for your kids and it is fun to watch them as they discover new cool things.
Gameplay: 6.5
Not enough use of the Wii's controls, but I understand the need to keep things simple. An action packed button smasher complete with combos for keeping things snappy.
Graphics: 6.0
They are cel shaded and look cartoony, just what you would expect with some pleasant surprises.
Sound: 5.0
The voice-overs aren't that great, and the absence of the original character voices from the show is apparent.
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
This won't provide too much difficulty for veteran gamers, but young kids will be challenged by its play.
Concept: 6.0
If they would have used more of the rules based on the show, it could have been a bit better, but I can't fault them for the idea behind this game.
Multiplayer: 7.0
My kids and I had the most fun when we played together, of course they like to let Dad do all the fighting and then run in at the end to score the kill, Still, its very fun.
Overall: 6.7
It is a pretty decent first effort by DP3 to try and capture the surprisingly complex and monster/alien filled world of Ben 10, I hope they get another chance to crack the Ben 10 universe only using all of the aliens from the show.

Above Average

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