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Joseph Rositano
07 May, 2007

Disney's Meet the Robinsons Review

DS Review | We never realised how much running and shooting was required in the future.
For those of you wondering why there’s been a sudden influx of children running around your local shopping mall lately, there’s been a recent school holiday period and as you would expect, to mark the occasion those big wigs in Hollywood have released a new animated film. You should know where this is going by now – a videogame is released to cash in on the film’s newfound fame. Surprisingly, Meet the Robinsons turned out better than expected – at least for the Xbox 360 which we gave a respectable 7.0. While the DS version initially showed similar promise, it sadly fell a bit short.

Despite being based on the film, Meet the Robinsons follows the story of the lesser character Wilbur Robinson who has to retrieve his father’s time machine which has been stolen by Bowler Hat Guy. While on the chase for the hatted thief, mishaps occur at a science fair which cause the future to change and it is up to you to set everything back to normal and stop Bowler Hat Guy’s evil plans.

Taking a slightly different approach from other 3D adventure titles, most of the action takes place on the touch screen while the top screen is used to displays messages and objectives. At any given time, you can select three weapons and assign them to the bottom-right corner of the touch screen. Thereafter, you simply lock onto an enemy by tapping them and then tap your desired weapon to fire while touching Wilbur will cause him to perform a dodge roll. For the most part, the controls have been implemented considerably well and not once feel gimmicky. Additionally, the developers have allocated alternative controls using the X, Y or A buttons for your arsenal while the B button resides as the dodge command. In conjunction with this, both shoulder buttons are used to rotate the camera and when both are pressed at the same time, you will automatically lock onto the nearest enemy. The main drawback with this, however, is that the game will sometimes lock onto nearby component caches which, for some strange reason, appear to always be right behind you causing hindrance – particularly when you’re facing off against three robots at a time.

The name "Bowler Hat Guy" shows Disney's knack for originality.

The name "Bowler Hat Guy" shows Disney's knack for originality.
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When you start the game, you’ll have three weapons at your disposal which are made up of a scanner, disassembler and a charge glove. The scanner is primarily used to record information on enemies, objects and character cards. For the offensive, the charge glove shoots out balls of energy to inflict damage on enemies while the disassembler breaks down stunned enemies and component caches to obtain base components which are used to buy new gadgets and upgrade existing weaponry. Other gadgets include the Meatball Gun (guess what that does), the Charge Shield which surrounds you in a protective shield, and the Hopping Shoes that enable you to reach high ledges. In order to unlock new gadgets, you have to find and scan hidden character cards, defeat bosses and collect every last Robinsons Logo (basically a coin with an “R” on it) scattered throughout each level. Once you unlock everything however, it becomes apparent that most gadgets are purely there as a gimmick and you’ll most likely continuously use only about half a dozen or so.

In case you haven’t figured it out by reading the above paragraphs mentioning weaponry, Meet the Robinsons is largely a run-and-shoot title which can be compared to the likes of Metroid Prime: Hunters and Ratchet: Gladiator in that you are placed in extensive worlds and basically traverse from room to room shooting at everything that moves. To make the gameplay a tad more interesting, you’re given objectives to complete which are mainly made up of “shoot X amount of enemies” or “collect X amount of base components.” To say the least, once you reach the latter worlds, things will get fairly repetitive. Once completing all missions, you will be treated to a boss battle which requires you to learn their attack patterns but like much of the rest of the game, once you work out the attack pattern, the battle will consist of you shooting and dodging.

In terms of the single player experience, it will take most players only 5-6 hours to complete Meet the Robinsons due to its easy-going and repetitive nature. In fact, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say the only challenge in the game is to master the controls and upgrade the more useful weapons. Included in the package however is an interesting mini-game called Chargeball which is a cross between arcade games such as Pong and Breakout.

Just once we'd like to see big yellow bananas as enemies... Mario Kart doesn't count.

Just once we'd like to see big yellow bananas as enemies... Mario Kart doesn't count.
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The basic premise behind Chargeball is you have to protect a goal by ricocheting a ball towards your opponent’s goal. The real challenge to this, though, is that the goal is protected by stacks of bricks and the only way to score is to break them. Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly engaging for long periods of time and will go largely unnoticed once you’ve experienced it. Chargeball can also be played with a second player but the developers have foolishly (or wisely from a marketing point of view) made it so both players need a copy of Meet the Robinsons. There is no particularly reason for it, especially considering the mini-game is far less demanding than some of the other uses of wireless single-card multiplayer.

Visually, the game makes great use of the DS’ graphical power by making environments look fairly impressive by including streams, tons of building and scenery but it isn’t without fault. There is a slight tendency for some of the smaller enemies to be unnoticeable at a distance because they blend in with the colours of the floor and background. Generally, you’ll only spot them when you hear their distinctive call or get shot at. Also, as you progress through the game, you’ll get a sense of familiarity with levels as parts of the maps are reused with only a few colour changes being implemented to distinguish them.

There isn’t too much to brag about in the way of audio. While enemies and weaponry have fitting sound effects which consist of metallic, zapping and other humorous noises, the game’s soundtrack doesn’t entirely standout as something memorable but at the same time, manages to create the necessary atmosphere and set the mood for levels.

The top screen is wasted on what would otherwise appear on a pause screen.

The top screen is wasted on what would otherwise appear on a pause screen.
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Overall, while Meet the Robinsons makes great use of the DS touch screen and graphical power, there are contributing factors which effect what would have otherwise been a top notch game. Firstly, although there is a wide assortment of gadgets to take advantage of, many of them feel gimmicky and pointless. Secondly, the game’s missions, and in a few circumstances its level design, becomes repetitive and dull while its short lifespan doesn’t do it any favors.
The Score
Meet the Robinsons showed a great amount of potential simply by the fact it had solid touch screen controls – a good sign for any movie licensed game on the DS. While it does have its moments, its short life span and lack of depth bring it down. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Disney Interactive Studios
Developer:
  Disney Interactive Studios
Players:
  1-2

Extra:
Two game carts required to play multiplayer mode.

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