IGN Review of Disney's Bolt
I always appreciate when a videogame based on a movie provides a different storyline than the film. Having it be supplementary to the motion picture is far more entertaining. And with a property like Bolt, it seems pretty obvious that a game about a dog with super powers would be golden. So why is this game so boring and bare bones?
While the film Bolt revolves around the canine actor's misadventures in the real world, the game is about the action adventure TV show. Players control Penny and Bolt as they travel across the globe, using superpowers and gadgets to stop the evil Calico and rescue Penny's dad. The entire story is told through artwork stills on the top screen, and dialogue boxes on the bottom screen. There's no voice acting, and what few in game cutscenes there are feature next to no sound effects and really generic music. I hope the music in here is not the score for the film because it's pretty terrible.
As Bolt, players have access to the little dog's super powers. His sonic bark is an attack that can be used against enemies, whereas his super strength and laser vision are used for puzzle solving. It's a bummer that the powers are so limited since it could have been cool to use things like laser vision in other contexts besides opening instrument panels or cutting stone pillars. Penny has her wheel bar, which allows her to scale buildings, zip along ledges, and beat the stuffing out of generic henchmen.
While there are platforming elements, Bolt is mainly an action game. The platforming is limited to specific areas. In fact, players cannot jump or walk off any ledge that isn't connected to another. And even when it is a chasm you can jump across the game doesn't let you jump unless you're lined up perfectly.
The game is ridiculously easy, since it makes it nearly impossible to die. Most of the time the game tells you exactly how to solve any puzzle, and if it doesn't there's only one option anyway so there's nothing to think about. Any challenge the enemies have is negated by a power-up system that levels up Bolt and Penny's abilities, making them impossible to kill juggernauts. Oh, and most of the enemies can simply be skipped anyway. There are only a few rare instances that require the player to defeat the enemies, and there are very few bosses of any kind.
If you do stop to kill the enemies you get a rather clunky control system trying to thwart you. All too often Bolt will leap at an enemy and go right through them without hitting. There's no way to determine why it happens or how to do it differently.
The best part of the game, by far, is the hacking mini-game. It's a touch screen setup where players use the stylus to complete patterns to build up a meter. It's also one of the multiplayer modes in the game, where two players compete and try to mess each other up using power-ups. Unfortunately, there are only a few levels of difficulty and the multiplayer requires two copies of the game.
Outside of the main game is a sub game featuring Rhino, the hamster-ball sidekick. It's a Super Monkey Ball style maze game where players use the touch screen or D-pad to tilt the level and roll rhino through the obstacle-laden maze. The levels are basic and walled in, so Rhino can never fall off. And there are only five obstacles that get reused over and over, making every level feel the same. On top of everything the camera turns far too often, which shifts the player's controls and causes Rhino to roll off course.
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