There’s an unwritten rule in game development; if you’re tasked with creating a game that’s tied to a blockbuster movie – particularly a movie aimed at younger audiences – you have to go out of your way to make a game that’s dull, lazy and only loosely tied to your source material. It’s been that way since ET for the Atari 2600, largely believed to be one of the worst games ever created; and it’s a trend that’s unfortunately continued.
Blitz games, behind the THQ published Puss in Boots tie-in have, for the most part, broken those rules. For one, they seem to have actually put some effort in to it.
The game follows – as you’d expect – the exploits of the Latin-accented feline hero matching the events of the film. It tells the tale of the cat before he joined up with everybody’s favourite green ogre with a heart of gold and his annoying donkey side-kick. You play as Puss as he travels with female counterpart Kitty Softpaws and more reluctantly, Humpty Alexander Dumpty through towns, deserts, and a giant’s castle in the sky. He’s after the goose that lays the golden egg to repay the citizens of San Ricardo that he unwillingly betrayed a lifetime ago.
What sets Puss in Boots apart from other quick cash-in licenced games is variety. While you’ll still encounter similar sections, copy and paste enemies and a whole lot of repetition, it’s neatly divided up and spaced apart so you’ll never be doing the same thing for too long. To that end, it more like a collection of mini-games, cleverly crafted to be a whole experience as opposed to bite-sized bits. Your first activity – naturally – is sword fighting; which is where PlayStation Move support shines. It utilises motion control for its swashbuckling, with an almost 1:1 accuracy, better than many games focused on the feature. Swing your fake plastic bulbous sword in just about any direction and Puss’ movements will correlate, all while blocking attacks from bandits who wish to to make kitty kebabs. Unfortunately, like many waggly games, you can flail about like an ADHD kid with a sparkler and get the same result. Successful rapier work builds up two meters; and filling them allows you to either kick a bandit in to the background (often revealing treasure, or showing a cute scripted demise) or attack with your claws and unleash waggle-charged paws of fury.
Other section have you sneaking through areas, trying to avoid the gaze of guards…or noisy, sleeping pigs. There’s plenty of platforming too – but with the game’s attention set mostly on motion controls, the platforming is relegated to jumping at pre-determined edges, or scurrying across ledges. It’s a bit of pity really, because this could’ve actually been a pretty good platformer otherwise. By far my favourite bits are the sections where Puss finds himself on a vehicle of sorts – like when he’s surfing down a giant, twisting beanstalk’s vines on a leaf.
The game is a little on the short side, with just 10 levels rounding out the game, but there are a few collectibles strewn about for completionists to collect. You can also tackle the minigames separately (alone or with a friend) to add a bit of longevity. Of course, with its target market, that hardly matters. Kids will play the same thing over and over again if they think its fun – and in this case they should. It’s a fun little romp, filled with that Dreamworks charm that should keep young gamers suitable entertained, especially if you have PlayStation Move or Kinect. You seasoned, core gamers? You’ll probably hate this, but you’ve all got hearts of stone.
It’s not especially good – but hey, it’s not terrible.
There’s some decent variety, with a number of gameplay elements. Move support works quite well – but it does all become quite tiring and repetitive. Kids will love it though.
Design and Presentation 7/10
It’s actually quite a decent looking, and mostly polished game. While nobody without severe vision impairment will mistake this for the film, it does have moments filled with Dreamworks charm – especially, curiously, the 2D cartoony, narrative bits.
It’s pretty short, unfortunately – but taking its source material and stretching it out would have resulted in a poorer game.
Last Updated: December 12, 2011