Rango Hands-On

Surprise kids! Rango, the movie starring Johnny Depp’s voice as a CG chameleon, has a tie-in game of the same name. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind with a movie-based game is usually something negative and hurtful, but prepare to be disappointed in this case. There is plenty of platforming goodness that will no doubt appeal to players nostalgic for the classics of olde, such as Spyro, Crash and Gex.

Rango, the game, follows the emerging standard set for movie games where the storyline is completely independent of the actual film it’s based on. The game takes place in Rango’s memories, or “Tall Tales,” as he over-embellishes his past few days to the townsfolk of Dirt. Playing through these memories is often humorous as sometimes Rango makes up something which the townsfolk recognize as a lie, and the setting immediately changes according to what’s accurate.

It seems as the developers went back to the glory days of platforming. Running and gunning with Rango’s popcorn gun feels great and responsive, and traversing the environments is just as engaging. Speaking of the environments, they almost completely steal the show. Since the game is about small critters, all the scenery, houses, bridges, towers, even the weapons are made up of regular household items such as matchboxes, staples, etc. But they never seem to be just randomly thrown together, instead they make up a very believable atmosphere that works for its wild west setting.

Some of the levels also include some pretty well done chase sequences. Riding on the backs of roadrunners and flying bats while shooting down obstacles and enemies is exciting, but never overly difficult, which is important since the game is primarily aimed at kids. Sometimes during a level you’re required to shoot a golden bullet which can be steered into multiple bullseye’s that ricochets off each one and sets off a chain reaction that helps Rango advance further. Other times you’re required to golf to progress through the level, confused? The best use of this was in the zombie level (don’t worry, they’re kid friendly zombies) where I had to fend them off as they tried to break through a gate by shooting golf balls covered in fire at them. It was completely goofy, but definitely entertaining. Quite possibly the most unique level was when Rango gets sucked into a broken down arcade machine. Everything from the scenery to the enemies is made up blocks, the music goes retro and even Rango is self aware that he’s stuck in a land of 8-bits.

Besides its great platforming elements, the game has some other things going for it as well, such as all character assets are done directly by Industrial Light and Magic, which makes the overall look more authentic to the source material. Even the sound got a splash of authenticity as the soundtrack is being helmed by Hans Zimmer. Make sure you check out Rango in Theaters on March 4, as well as our full game review following that.