Ice Age: Continental Drift freezes fun solid
Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games, Nintendo Wii, Activision/Behaviour Interactive. Rated E, MSRP $29.99.
I DON’T KNOW why I’m surprised when I play a movie-tie in game and it turns out to be just a dreadful gaming experience.
I’ve been reviewing video games for almost a decade now and yet I can still sometimes be taken aback by how reprehensible hastily developed titles that are loosely linked to big movie releases can be.
Case in point — Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games. Granted, the characters from the movies are in this title so if you are some kind of Manny, Sid or Diego fanatic, your ship has come in.
For the rest of the planet, prepare for just the worst example of gaming that is lazily shovelled onto the Wii like so much dirty snow off the sidewalk.
The “premise” of Arctic Games is that the Herd of lovable characters from the movies encounters a ruffian Crew of prehistoric pirate animals and they squabble over a gigantic acorn full of food.
As I am sure most ancient disputes between animals were solved, they agree to play a series of zany athletic competitions to decide who gets the grub.
If you can believe it, the game goes downhill from here.
A paltry ten mini-games comprise the content in this title. That’s right — ten.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s about 40 less than Rhythm Heaven Fever, 62 less than Mario Party 8 and about 190 less than WarioWare Smooth Moves — all of which are far superior to this dreck in almost every way.
Games consist of wacky sports hybrids played against various wintry and jungle tableaus.
Hopping from glacier to glacier, hurling coconuts at targets, simplistic bobsledding — Arctic Games manages to dole out the most colour-by-numbers mini-games imaginable.
A basic take on curling and a sometimes smirk-inducing game involving launching Scrat from a cannon are the best of this bunch, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting really into any of these snoozefests.
Controls are extremely basic — most of the time, you’ll be holding your Wiimote sideways and just tapping a button from time to time.
The challenge level in each game is clearly aimed at the kids who likely forced you to buy this for them in the first place, which is to say that every mini-game is unbelievably easy and almost entirely bereft of challenge.
The tragedy is these same kids lack the attention span needed to suffer through this game and after you barrel through the hour or so of content it has to offer, they will likely be more interested in hurling the game disc around the room than leaving it in their Wii for another helping of this mess.
A local multiplayer mode is included where players can take turns playing Herd or Crew, but it lacks split-screen so it’s basically playing a game against the clock and then handing the controller to your very bored friend.
Graphically the game is muddied and unappealing, even by Wii standards. This looks more like a GameCube game than a Wii game.
Sound work is the expected collection of triumphant horns and heroic music, with lots of comical bonking sounds and the like. The voice talent from the movie stagger through their lines with some effort, but it’s in a losing cause.
It’s hard to be this crushing on a title that is clearly designed for younger gamers, but this is the kind of shiftless game development that squandered the Wii’s reputation in the first place.
If you have $30 burning a hole in your wallet, take your kids to see the Ice Age movie instead. You’ll get about twice as much entertainment out of the experience and you’ll have one less abhorrent Wii game cluttering up your living room.
UPSIDE: Scattered moments of fun, bargain priced.
DOWNSIDE: Very little content, far too easy. Boring, unimaginative gaming. Poor presentation, no replay value.
BOTTOM LINE: Arctic Games needs to go back into the deep freeze.
Neil MacFarlane is a Halifax video game enthusiast.