Games based on children’s films are a lot like visiting your Grandma. They’re really sweet to you, insult your intelligence and forget how old you are. Meet the Robinsons is a different breed of game-based-on-movie; it’s the older brother who knows what’s up and doesn’t talk down to you. But is Disney’s latest the kind of brother that makes you laugh, or does it sit on your chest and fart in your mouth?
Based on the latest Disney film of the same name, Meet the Robinsons eschews much of the movie’s plot about an orphaned boy seeking his place in the world and focuses on the wisecracking Wilbur Robinson as he tries to recover his dad’s time machine from the hilariously-named Bowler Hat Guy - complete with a Snidely Whiplash ‘stache. Because Wilbur doesn’t have access to the Nerf face-melting death lasers there will inevitably be in the future - he’s a kid after all - he must use the less cool future-tech weapons in the form of specially outfitted NES-like Power gloves that either throw Chargeballs or let you burrow underneath opponents and barriers.
Tame future weapons aside, Wilbur can use a Scanner which lets you scan rooms for secrets and hints and a Disassembler that can rip furniture apart for elements used to upgrade your weapons and health. This weapon also has its use in combat; stun a Robo-ant or jack the armor off a robotic guard before you lay siege with Chargeball shots. It adds a cool puzzle element to each enemy as you constantly switch up your attacks.
Much of the Robinsons’ level design comes down to semi-fetch quests. You usually need to find a key or destroy some robots in order to progress, which can be a little cumbersome. Added to that are some wicked puzzles which extends to Robinsons’ “figure it out” attitude. The puzzles can usually be deduced quickly, but are a chore to solve; activate a switch that forms a platform, hit another switch to rotate the platform, keep rotating it, make sure the platform doesn’t fall out beneath you, etc.
If the aiming and lock-on system didn’t fart in your mouth, then we wouldn’t have a problem with the overlong puzzles. But apparently in Disney’s vision of the future, everyone will be happy to constantly realign the camera while endlessly targeting the wall instead of a laser-blasting robo-bee. Maybe Disney’s too forward thinking on this, but in 2007, we like to target the most immediate threat.