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
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
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.
They are cel shaded and look cartoony, just what
you would expect with some pleasant surprises.
The voice-overs aren't that great, and the
absence of the original character voices from the show is apparent.
This won't provide too much difficulty for
veteran gamers, but young kids will be challenged by its play.
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.
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.
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.