[Guest review by Darryn Bonthuys]
Well howdy there pard’ner. Pull up a seat and lemme tell ya about that time I played one of them new fangled video games that starred a chameleon by the name of Rango, a lawman that protected his little town of Dirt from all manners of unsavoury characters.
Based on the recently released film of the same name, Rango stars the eponymous character himself, a chameleon that left his sheltered life and wound up becoming Sheriff of the town of Dirt.
Taking place after the events of the film, Rango finds himself embroiled in another adventure, in a quest that involves him having to recover meteor fragments and stop the Jenkins gang in the process.
It’s an original tale penned by one of the writers from the film, but the game makes no effort to reintroduce these characters to new audiences, instead relying on the idea that anyone who bought this game must have seen the film first.
The action in Rango consists primarily of platforming sections interspersed with some on the rail action, as Rango can chase down varmints on his trusty, chicken steed or take to the skies on a bat to dispense some justice.
Of course, there’s going to be quite a few obstacles in the way, such as hoodlums and miscreants, who will endeavour to keep Rango out of their business. Fortunately, Rango has an assortment of skills at his disposal, from run of the mill fisticuffs to slam attacks and a gun that fires deadly kernels of popcorn at lawbreakers.
All of these skills are of the upgradeable variety, purchased with sheriff stars that litter each level and are awarded by smashing crates and defeating wave after wave of bad guy. Power-ups for your gun can also be found hidden away in the jack-in-the-box crates, transforming your pistol into either a machine gun or a shotgun for a few seconds of over-powered ballistic gameplay.
The world of Rango is brilliantly realised and has obviously benefited from the designs seen in the film. Human garbage has been recycled into virtually anything, from homes and bars to fully functioning trains.
The western theme is implemented in a manner reminiscent of old spaghetti westerns, and the characters themselves fit into several archetypes quite well, from the familiar bowler hat wearing villains, to a quartet of owls that comprise a mariachi band that follow Rango around, predicting doom for him.
And yet, the game is not satisfied with just giving gamers an eccentric western platformer to play around in, but also tosses in some sci-fi and zombie themed levels as well. A few nods to infamous western movies are also apparent, and even a familiar character from a certain Johnny Depp film appears as an antagonist during one of the later levels.
As a platformer, Rango is a surprisingly solid title that avoids many of the pitfalls that most movie to game adaptations fall into. It’s nothing original, and the in-game camera can be a nightmare to control on its own, but it’s a generally polished and well put together title.
The voice work is spot on, imitating the many characters that were originally voiced by celebrities in the film, while the visuals are of a surprisingly above average quality.
It’s not the longest of games, clocking in at around 5-6 hours of gameplay, but the 9 levels that the game consists of feel long enough to stretch out over several days of gameplay.
Aimed at children predominantly, Rango is a forgiving title, with checkpoints liberally scattered throughout levels and the difficulty being challenging enough to encourage repeated attempts at success.
Solid and well designed, the game makes full use of the controller for an assortment of moves and tricks, while the camera works perfectly until you try and move it around yourself. Not the most original of games, it is still nonetheless an above average experience that any gamer of any age can have fun with.
Design and Presentation: 8.0
Surprisingly quite well detailed, the characters look like they were ripped straight from the film, while the western locals make imaginative use of human garbage in order to realise the world. The soundtrack deserves a special mention as well, as the trumpeting music and old-timey melodies help sell the Wild West attitudes of Rango.
As a kiddies game, it’ll keep the young ones amused for quite a few hours, but grown-ups will probably become bored with this game once they’ve played through it once.
It’s not really designed for adults, and it helps if you’ve seen the film before you’ve played the game, but Rango is a movie to game adaptation that raises the benchmark just that little bit more, something future games based on celluloid licenses can learn from.
[Rango was reviewed on Xbox 360 but is also available on PS3, PC and Wii]
Last Updated: March 8, 2011