You can all thank Atari for doing nothing to raise the bar for the doomed genre that is the game-based-on-movie. Although to be honest, you could hardly blame them in this case, considering the children’s book-turned-abysmal-film Arthur and the Invisibles is their source material.
Arthur begins with the first of many confusing cutscenes that sloppily bridge film footage with in-game footage. Arthur’s grandmother will be evicted unless she can find some cash - apparently, the operative word here really is "find," as Arthur’s uncle may or may not have some buried treasure in their backyard. Based on this, Arthur finds a way to shrink himself into a freaky-looking troll doll, and he’s clumsily introduced to chubby little Betameche, a tiny creature known as a Minimoy. They too look like troll dolls, so an instant bond is apparently formed. After the standard first-level “how to jump” tutorial, you’re bombarded by evil mosquito-riding creeps and you, Betameche and Selenia - another Minimoy who’s never actually introduced - begin your adventure.
You’ll spend the meat of your time switching back and forth amongst the three as you traverse the profoundly dumb, typical level design. Why must we step on three separate platforms at once or pull a lever for 30 seconds to open almost every single door? It must take an army to get across the Minimoy village.
Thankfully, the game breaks up your painfully boring jaunts with fighting, increasingly smart stone-stacking puzzles, balancing on a Mogoth (think Wampa, the yeti from Star Wars) or shooting down enemy mosquitoes while riding your own winged insect. But once you’ve fumbled with the analog stick and fought the camera moving a stone block once, that's enough. You may get sick by the tenth time you have to do it... in the same level.
And who the hell localized this game? Not only is it jarring that the English subtitles don’t match the dialogue, but characters speak their lines quickly, often cutting off or running over someone else’s words. Screw saving the others, Betameche needs some damn Ritalin and some Speech classes.
One positive about Arthur is its epic score. The music soars during a mosquito dog-fight and bumps to a groovy battle in a bar. But otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity seeing as how it cuts out for no good reason and you’re suddenly left to listen to the game’s repeating voice samples.
The PC version exhibits sharper visuals which help to flesh out the rich backgrounds, such as the invasion of the mosquitoes, or when Arthur must save his friends from a flood. However, the slightly cheaper price brings crappy controls. Forget about that mouse because you gotta use the arrow keys to move about while using the number pad for the action keys. The camera is already a nightmare, but having to use the Home and End keys to move it? If anything, spring for a game pad and save yourself from ridiculously cheap platforming deaths.
Never mind the typos in the instruction manual and forget that the word “Invisible” is never used to describe Minimoys. The most fun you’ll have here is every single diversion from the main quest, which doesn’t happen often enough. If nothing more, this mostly broken game exists purely as a way to cash-in on the latest CG snoozer not starring anthropomorphic animals. At least the packaging has glitter on it. Really, it does.