We’d call this another instance of GR fanning the flames of Fanboy War, but let’s be honest… Dreamworks Animation doesn’t have any fans. Shrek and Co have graced a few bed sheets here and there, but that studio’s name alone carries almost no weight when compared to the globally beloved institution that is Pixar. Yet while Pixar’s movies always out score Dreamworks in the Metacritic department, how exactly do you think the games stack up?
Above: By the end of this article, you will know the answer to the question no one ever asked: Whose games are better, Pixar or Dreamworks?
With next week’s release of Toy Story 3 (SQUEEE!), Pixar and Dreamworks are poised for more than a battle at the box office. We’ve done our damnedest to pit the most comparable movie games from both companies head-to-side-grinning-head using their highest ranking game. And only the first game to stem from the movie. No spin-offs, sideshoots, and most importantly, no Game Boy Color games! That sad sort of shit has been thankfully relegated to the iPhone App Store.
WARNING: POTENTIAL BIAS! While I carry a deep affection for almost every Pixar film, I consider every Dreamworks Animation movie that isn’t Kung Fu Panda to be a derivative puddle of pop culture-spewing, donkey piss. However, the games were not selected so as to rig the contest in either company’s favor.
Toy Story vs Shrek
For the most part we’ll be looking at movies/games that came out within the same time period, but how could I not kick things off with these two heavyweights? Shrek is to Dreamworks what Woody is to Pixar. Each icon is synonymous with the studios’ most recognizable films, and their successful execution would pave the way subsequent theatrical CGI would be realized in terms of tone, style and production. The toys take the win here, but obviously, there are several years between the two games. And to be fair, Toy Story for Genesis came out during a time when mascot platformers were still all the rage, whereas Shrek didn’t have that luxury while being developed by a company known primarily for manufacturing blank cassette tapes. The playing field from here on out will get much more balanced…
“This game may be geared to a younger audience, but it's hard to ignore its technological achievements… It's the Donkey Kong Country of the Genesis, showing that the machine is still capable of making advancements.” - Game Players
“The game play appeals to the young and hopelessly naïve gamers who think they're reliving the movie experience. Good luck to them.” – Hot Games
A Bug’s Life vs Antz
Ah, and thus we see the emergence of a notorious rivalry. Did Dreamworks rip off Pixar, or was it just a case of parallel thought? Neither, actually. Jeffery Katzenberg left Disney well aware A Bug’s Life was in development at Pixar, but greenlit Antz anyway soon after creating Dreamworks, as it had been in varying stages of development for some time and character textures on insects (as opposed to animal fur or human skin) seemed far more doable given the current stage of CG technology. Both movies were different enough to enjoy success, but the fact that Antz was rushed through production, seemingly with the sole purpose of beating A Bug’s Life to the box office, remained a point of contention between the two animation companies. Oh, the games? They’re both utter dog shit barely worth revisiting.
A Bug’s Life
“…This game can be simplified to walking around while constantly pressing the berry-throw button.” – Ben Stahl, GameSpot
“What kind of lesson are we teaching our kids when we make them play a game that has smarter bugs abusing larger ones for the sake of their own personalized sports entertainment? I don't think me riding on the back of another human down a racetrack is very funny. I'm all for enslaving other people and species, but shouldn't we wait until the teen years before we instill those values into our children?” - Ivan Sulic, IGN
Finding Nemo vs Shark Tale
Having almost cleared Dreamworks of plagiarism charges above, here we find them at their most rippy-offest! Antz proved that they can crank shit out faster than Pixar (Fact: Dreamworks has already produced more theatrical films than Pixar did with a three year lead!) but the similarities here start to get… Christ, I’m really trying not to say “fishy” because that would imply it wasn’t outright theft. As if the aquatic copycatting weren’t enough to have Pixar fans throwing poisoned McDonalds glasses over the gates of Dreamworks HQ, kindly note this tidbit: The Shark Tale game scored higher than Finding Nemo on all platforms! Attentive readers may already know why…
“Very plain and ordinary, and without the Nemo license there wouldn't be much reason to actually own it.” – Dan Wong, Game Critics
“If you loved the movie, enjoy funky retro dance music and contemporary hip hop, and want to experience some of the best computer generated undersea graphics to ever grace the GameCube, take Shark Tale for a swim.” – Mark Smith, Game Chronicle