IGN Review of Arthur and the Invisibles
So, despite having a huge name attached to the flick (Luc Besson, director of The Fifth Element, easily one of the finest sci-fi films ever in this reviewer's eyes), Arthur and the Invisibles came and left the theaters as insignificantly and as unnoticed as the little creatures that starred in it. But the brand held enough promise for Atari to pursue a videogame deal to coincide with its release, and that's where Neko's DS rendition comes into play. As creative as the movie's style was, that creativity doesn't really flow into the design of this portable game -- it's just ripping off Wario Ware wholesale and throwing in a Tamagotchi virtual pet as a secondary mode. It's not original, but it's not all that bad, either.
Right from the first boot-up you're faced with tiny little micro-challenges that require quick reflexes on the Nintendo DS system's touch screen: fast touch, tapping, stroking, circle drawing, and...oh, yes, microphone blowing. And each challenge happens one after the other in rapid-fire succession, and each only gives you a few seconds to accomplish the task. Hey, just like Nintendo's own WarioWare! It's no coincidence -- even the feel and the level progression mimicks Nintendo with its short pauses between challenges.
But you know what? The challenges have some differences to Wario Ware, so it's not entirely a full-fledged rip-off. It just feels that way.
In context, though, the game design makes absolutely no sense. Why are you performing these tiny challenges? The game fails to offer any insight into the characters or the world of Arthur and the Invisibles until after the first round of four whole levels of mini-game challenges -- and by that time all it does is give a brief snapshot of the film's line-up of little guys. If you've never seen the film you have absolutely no context to go by -- why did you need to fling a beard on a character? Or pop spores on blades of grass? Or try to uproot a sword in a stone? WarioWare was just weird for weird's sake...but it's clear that Arthur's challenges refer to stuff in the universe. But good luck trying to figure that out by this game's half-assed presentation.
Though there are a handful of art assets that have clearly been doodled up for the game, for the most part the game's been constructed mostly out of production stills or official art from the movie. A lot of the design seems like developers trying to create as many challenges as they could using nothing but recycled artwork. Don't expect to be wowed by the game's visuals the way Luc Besson's filmmakers tried in the theatrical production. Unless you're impressed by cutouts sliding around the screen.
The second portion of Arthur on the Nintendo DS is its Tamagotchi-like virtual pet where you raise a...well, he's sort of a puffball with eyes. He can be as cute as a bug if you manage to feed and pet the little guy, but don't expect your heart to be captured in the same way that, say, Nintendogs managed to. The interaction between this character is extremely minimal -- you can pet and feed him, but the interface is so clunky that you feel like you're more an outside observer than a direct caregiver.
©2007, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved