WALL-E is a simple robot with a simple life, but I think that's where he gets most of his charm. That simplistic charm definitely carries over to the Nintendo DS version of his theatrical adventure from Pixar – THQ's Helixe studio has created a cool retro-style puzzle game in the vein of the classic Chip's Challenge. It does get a little long and repetitive in its linear presentation, but the developer put a lot of fun in this basic licensed package.
The handheld version of WALL-E follows the structure of the upcoming movie, which follows the classic movie formula: Boy Robot loves Girl Robot, Girl Robot Loves Boy Robot, Boy Robot Gets Blasted Off Into Space. On the Nintendo DS, this story has been translated and reformulated into a puzzle exploration challenge where you – as WALL-E – must get to the exit of an area by using his basic abilities and the world around him.
WALL-E can pick up, put down, and throw objects, as well as move around the environment. And that's pretty much it. But even with the limited amount of things that the players can do, the designers clearly had a lot of fun creating environmental puzzles that put these elements to use. Players must use the environment's objects and hazards to WALL-E's advantage: use an exploding cube to blast the robot across chasms, or toss one onto a switch that'll activate a pusher so that WALL-E can zip across a backwards-moving conveyer belt. Players must make sure they don't accidentally roll WALL-E off the edge of a cliff, as that'll reset the level and remove any progress that you may have made.
The game is fun in short spurts because the puzzles take a little bit of thought to accomplish. But levels tend to drag on with the way the designers string small puzzles together one after the other, and it's difficult to tell when you're getting close to the goal. Since WALL-E doesn't have much else to do beyond the basic move set there's not much variety, and the EVE flying levels are too uninteresting to spice things up the way they should have. And the payoff to find all the hidden tokens in a level isn't really all that great: you earn a snapshot from the movie. Yippie.
The games visuals are pretty solid for the Nintendo DS but nothing spectacular; WALL-E is in a fixed perspective 3D that does a good job allowing the player to see all around him by putting camera rotation on the shoulder triggers. While the main game visuals aren't eye-popping gorgeous, the style the developers used for the cutscenes are very cool: the flatshaded appearance is very reminiscent of what Delphine did for its storytelling in Out of this World and Flashback.
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