Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and Sly and Bentley are all busy doing their respective things when their worlds all get paused and they get pulled into some far away universe to battle for the fate of recently imprisoned cute looking aliens. It’s a thin premise to bring all these characters together, but it is a premise, which is more than can be said for similar mascot gathering adventures. The whole game is billed as a sort of competition among the heroes, but it really doesn’t matter who you play as, nor is there a score kept among the competitors. Every time you start a game, you start with whoever you want and statistics do not carry over. Your goals are the ones immediately presented to you, and they expire when you have completed them.
Also, as an aside, every time you start the game, it asks you what hand you play with. We welcome the foresight from developers to politely ask what hand you prefer to play with, but this is a single-player game. Your hand preference does not change. There is no need to ask every time. Additionally, southpaws will generally play with the Move controller in their right hand, and the navigation controller in the left to emulate a normal controller, so the option is pointless. What it’s really asking you is which hand you would prefer your chosen character to grip their weapon with. Their left hand or their right hand? You, the player, will always be playing with your right hand regardless of your typical preference. It’s nice to have these sorts of choices, but when they are incessant and entirely pointless, it shows that not much thought went into the option.
There are five different game types that are tweaked in a couple of interesting ways. Sometimes you will be timed, sometimes you will be searching for and saving displaced aliens, sometimes you will be protecting them and sometimes you will just be destroying as much stuff as possible. You will be shooting, whipping, bowling meleeing and throwing Frisbees in the aforementioned game types, and some are a lot more fun than others.
The whipping and meleeing games are the ones that lend the least amount of control. You will often find simple wide horizontal and vertical swiping motions to be just as effective as anything else. It is not a one to one translation to the screen. Bowling and throwing Frisbees are similar in the sense that you are throwing an object and taking full control of it after it leaves the hand or paw of your character. The Frisbee game offers too much freedom with not enough time in a large open setting. The bowling game limits the number of explorable directions for the player, and provides a much more interesting directed experience. While the whipping and meleeing games don’t offer enough control, the bowling and Frisbee games seem to offer too much. The slightest lean or rotation of your wrist will often result in too wide a turn, or too much of a drop, and it can be frustrating.
The shooting games are the most familiar to the average gamer, and tend to be the most fun. It’s like playing a third person shooter, and the weapons change frequently. Sometimes you will be using weapons with shotgun-like spreads, and other times you will be using what amounts to basically a grenade launcher. These stages are the most playable.
There is a multiplayer mode in Move Heroes, but it is a limited one. A second player with an additional Move controller can play as the hero’s sidekick (Clank for Ratchet, etc.) and control an on-screen aiming reticule to help shoot destructible objects and enemies, among other abilities. It’s a welcome addition, but this feels like the sort of game that should be more welcoming to additional players, and offer more options.
The game does have other things going for it – namely, it looks good. It’s not quite up to the standard of the best looking PlayStation 3 games, but it is certainly respectable. It emulates the designs and universes of each character well. The only exception, oddly, is Sly Cooper. He looks out of place in the somewhat realistic world of Move Heroes. Ratchet, Clank, Jak and Daxter all exist in a cartoon-like world, but the world that Sly and his turtle pal Bentley exist in is a world of thick black lines and solid colors. He looks weird when you can see his fur and the fabric of his clothing. It’s unsettling for some reason. Bentley, being fur-less as he is, looks slightly less strange.
There are four worlds in the game - one pulled from each of the starring duos’ worlds - and a fourth designed specifically for Move Heroes. Overlooking the fact that all of the levels exist floating in the middle of space, they are convincing re-creations of the setting we know each hero from.
Move Heroes was one of the first games to be shown off when the Move controller was first announced and with many recognizable Sony characters, it seemed like it could have been the game that would sell the Move. At the very least, it was amping up to be a fun showcase of the capabilities of the new controller. The actual game ends up being neither of these things. If anything, it makes us pessimistic about the future of the Move. The game isn’t necessarily not fun to play, but it is far too simple and makes the Move feel like nothing more than a slightly accurate Wii remote with a colorful glowing orb on top.
To see these characters in the current generation of consoles, four of which have not been given a proper showcase yet, was enjoyable. It’s clear that care was taken to bring elements of each franchise into the game. There are unlockable costumes for each character, and each one has his own special moves. The costumes and special moves are all themed to each character. Jak, for example, can dress in his racing gear from Jak X, and his special move turns him momentarily into Dark Jak. These little touches go a long way to please fans of the original games, but it does not hide the fact that the core game is a fairly mediocre, repetitive collection of games that aren’t quite small enough to be considered mini, but not nearly large enough to be considered full.
Mar 30, 2011