reviews\ Jan 2, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Disney's Chicken Little: Ace in Action - WII - Review

How to make a Chicken Little:

(1) Take one small, feathery character. (2) Give him three loyal friends: Ace, Abby, and Runt. (3) Place ingredients into one 3D shooter. (4) Add Wii-specific control mechanics. (5) Stir with Wii remote until it comes to a boil.

Chicken Little: Ace In Action lands on Wii with DS anticipation. Everyone who’s played the DS version is bound to have a vision for what they think the game will be, or at the very least should be. The DS, as great a system as it is, does not have the kind of power roaring under Wii’s hood. That technology is not used to its fullest here – this is merely a console-to-console port. But new control possibilities are demonstrated.


An Ace In Action

Though Chicken Little’s name is on the box, you don’t actually play as the Zach Braff-voiced character. This adventure is all about his friends.

Ace’s blaster skills make him the king of on-foot combat. His standard and secondary weapons are destructive in a non-harmful way. Enemies are typically robots – destroying them causes no damage to any actual creatures. Pillars, rocks, machines, and other things that stand out can be used to your advantage. You must, in some circumstances, destroy a particular machine to open a door that’s blocked by a force field.

Nearly everything you shoot, whether it’s an enemy or stationary object, has the potential to leave behind Acornium (a raw material that functions as this game’s currency). Use it in between missions to upgrade your weapons and vehicles.

Ace’s controls are an interesting mix of the past (analog character movement via nunchuck) and present (aim using the Wii remote). The latter has had some problems on Wii, most notably with Call of Duty 3. Ace In Action isn’t nearly as stressful. The game does detect your every move (unless you go too far off screen, more on that next), but it doesn’t push the camera all around if you screw up. In a weird way that’s not easy to explain, the game is almost like a 3D version of Smash TV – if Smash TV were dummied down with a family-friendly environment that had fewer enemies to shoot.


The sensor bar must be plugged in and pick up your remote in order for the game to work. If you tilt the remote too far away from the screen in any direction, the game will stop moving. This is a pain that takes time to get over. You’ll be expecting the game (more specifically, the camera) to move with increased speeds as you tilt the remote, just as PC shooters move faster as you move the mouse.

Since Ace can go in any direction by pressing the thumbstick, there isn’t much need to dodge a sudden attack. Just keep moving and you’ll miss almost all of them. Health packs appear frequently, so you’ll be able to replenish your energy nearly every time you need to. Dying is rarely a problem, but if you do die, most of the levels will take back to a place not far from where you bit the dust. There are a few exceptions, mainly in Abby’s spaceship levels. Lose your health there and you might end up having to re-do a less desirable portion of the mission.

Should you feel the need to make Ace dodge (despite not really needing to), move the nunchuck left, right, forward, or back. Good idea, but it doesn’t work. I fumbled with it for a few minutes, gave up and tried again later – several times – before finally losing all hope in the system. The idea is that you push the nunchuck (not its thumbstick, the actual controller attachment) in the direction that you wish to jump to. But the game often interprets your action in the opposite direction. Ironically, whenever I adjusted my moves to follow this pattern, the game corrected itself! I push left to go left, and Ace dodges right. I do this a couple more times, then push right to make him go left. Eureka! I try again. Now he’s moving right, but soon he’ll move left again.

The Runt of the Litter

Runt, the gargantuan oinker and resident tank driver, is a man (pig) of few words and big destruction. His missions let you control a powerful, enemy-crushing tank that doesn’t stop for anyone. Since the vehicle is much larger than Ace and the majority of the enemy’s you’ll be fighting, the levels had to be designed with size limitations in mind. There’s enough room to move around pretty freely. Don’t expect any corridors, or too many barriers that will hinder your progress in a lame and glitchy way. Do expect a constant stream of robots to blow to pieces.

Tank controls are what you’d expect after using Ace: a nice combination of analog movement and motion-controlled aiming.


Space Out, Dude

The third and final playable character is Abby, a sassy goose (or is she a duck?) with a license to fly … into space. Her levels are mostly boring, but the controls are worth noting. Everything you know about Ace and Runt is the same – basic movement and camera/crosshair functions remain unchanged. The difference comes from the nunchuck, which can be tilted forward or backward to move the ship down or up, respectively. It sounds insignificant. Joysticks have been doing that for years. But this function, combined with the other control elements, makes flying a fun pastime.

The only downside is the levels themselves. They’re poorly paced, are often slow, and don’t contain the most exciting combat.

Review Scoring Details for Chicken Little: Ace In Action

Gameplay: 7.2
Ace In Action shares the title, characters, vehicles, and premise of the DS version. However, they are not the same game. While the DS version is like an arcade game on a more traditional level, the Wii version is very much an arcade title in the vein of the modern-day action game. It also packs some of the best controls I’ve experienced in a Wii shooter. They’re by no means flawless, but are generally consistent and reliable, suffering primarily from a lack of crosshair detection when the remote is aimed too far away from the screen. Theoretically that should make the game move faster, but it doesn’t look at it that way.

Repetition is also an issue, though it shouldn’t be much of a problem for the younger crowd (who, having not played many shooters yet, might have a higher tolerance than the rest of us).

Graphics: 7.0
Mostly average. The game is colorful and attractive at times, but mostly looks like what you would have expected to see on GameCube, not a next-gen platform, three years ago.

Sound: 6.8
Adam West’s voice-overs are cool, but the rest of the sound is just barely at the average level. You won’t be particularly annoyed by it, but you won’t have the desire to crank your speakers either.

Difficulty: Easy
What’d you expect? The game is called “Chicken Little.” Big Chicken – that could be difficult. Angry Rooster would certainly be tough. But not this game.

Concept: 7.9
Same ol’ shooter, level, mission and puzzle formula. However, the game does offer a cool twist: a combination of standard and Wii-exclusive control styles that make the game more interesting than the average shooter.

Multiplayer: 6.5
It’s not exactly a deathmatch, but you and a friend can jump in the tank or spaceship for a competition to see who can score the most points.

Overall: 7.0
Worth renting for any lover of the Wii shooter style, especially if you want to experience more motion-driven technology. The flight controls are pretty unique – I’ve played games that are entirely analog or entirely controlled by motion, but not by both. Ace’s dodge controls aren’t very accurate, though thankfully the rest of the game is dead-on. The post-finish replay value is questionable, but Chicken Little fans will at least enjoy themselves while journey lasts.


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