Review by Ian Abbott
Wreck-It Ralph is a mini mind wrecker - it’s a video game, acting as a story extension for the film, which is based on video games. We’re already deep in the meta-video game/film lands with all these narrative crossways, but thankfully, that’s as complex as it gets for this Activision title with a family friendly PEGI 3+ rating.
With the big screen bad guy currently reigning supreme at the top of the UK film charts, the creative cats at Disney Interactive/Activision have come up with a cunning ploy to keep Mr Wreck-It and Mr Fix-It in the lives of little ones across the country, by creating a DS/3DS and Wii game which begins where the film ends (if you haven’t seen it yet, watch the film before playing the game or risk encountering massive spoilers in the game’s opening scene).
A cluster of creepy crawling Cy-Bugs have taken over the three film inspired levels; Sugar Rush - a calorific and cake infested pink and white e-number heaven, Hero’s Duty - a semi-industrial grey and tan landscape with plenty of prominent lines and iron girders and Fix It Felix Jr - a Wonder Boy inspired forest with rounded trees and a towering skyscraper. It’s up to Ralph with his prominent forearms and his partner Fix-It Felix with his trusty spanner to progress through this simple platformer with its peppering of puzzles and rid the world of the Cy-Bugs.
Wreck-It Ralph is aimed squarely at mini-gamers aged 5-8. With the ability to instantly and easily switch between Ralph and Felix you have the power to reduce things to rubble, crash through boxes of walls as well as high jump, dodge, repair and renovate parts of the environment as well. With a massive nod to both Donkey Kong (red climbable ladders and obstacle hurdling) and Mario (coin collecting, twitchy jumping-off-walls and left-to-right goodness) in the game mechanics, there’s an 8-bit chip tune soundtrack and nostalgic sound effects which could have been lifted directly from 1987. The film voice actors are also present throughout the game and it felt like an episode of Glee when Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, aka Calhoun commented “adequate work civilian” on my level completion in her inimitable style.
With five stages for each of the three levels and a big boss to dismantle at the end, the game took me less time to complete (120 minutes) than going to the cinema, watching trailers and seeing the actual film (135mins). Upon completion, a new game+ mode opens up which increases enemy difficulty, puts a countdown timer on each level, takes away any mid level save points and challenge me to rack up the highest score possible but no game, no matter at what age it is aimed at, should be finishable in two hours. Although part of the in level titling, text boxes and cut scenes were demonstrating some 8-bit square pixellage love, the actual game was fully rendered and for me this presented a level of unwanted inconsistency between the two worlds.
Wreck-It Ralph has plenty of authentic nods to the past alongside the jumping and coin collecting with a cheat code screen, an options menu where you can either turn the music or SFX up or down and the accrual of a ridiculous amount of lives (52) combined with whopping high scores (18 million). With its simple platforming mechanics, a great narrative idea of expanding the films story into the game and genuinely instant character swappage this video game deserves Wreck-ignition for identifying its core audience and delivering to them in abundance.
Wreck-It Ralph the game is out now on DS, 3DS and Wii. The film is out now nationwide.