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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Platformer

 

Publisher

Disney Interactive

 

Developer

Avalanche Software

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 2007

 

 

- Appealing graphics

- Many, many sci-fi references that will fly right over the heads of the intended audience

 

 

- Lock-on functionality is abysmal

- Hamster Ball races and Chargeball challenges can be infuriating

- No manual jumping in a game that feels like it should have been included

- Run of the mill game with nothing new

 

 

Review: The Incredibles (XB)

Review: Chicken Little (XB)

Review: Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)

 

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Meet the Robinsons

Score: 5.5 / 10

 

For licensed games such as Meet the Robinsons – in theaters now! – I will typically plunk down some money and go see the flick or read the book/comic if it applies but money and time have been tight lately so I can’t speak to the faithfulness of the game to the movie on which it is based, with the exception of the graphics, which compare well to the film.

 

meet the robinsons          meet the robinsons

 

Now that I’ve typed that particular disclaimer, Meet the Robinsons is a run of the mill platformer/adventure game that struggles to emulate far more successful games like The Legend of Zelda franchise.  Chief among these failings is a poor lock-on system.  Rather than stay locked-on to a target, the lock is broken after every shot, which forces you to press the left trigger to lock-on again.  Your character – Wilbur Robinson – has access to a handful of different weapons which can be mapped to the face buttons.  It makes total sense but when you’re forced to re-lock a target after every shot… it just doesn’t work well, especially because you won't always lock-on to the same target!

 

Amazingly enough, there is no jump function.  Like the latest console Zelda games, the leaping and ledge-grabbing is context sensitive; no button pressing required.  It takes a while to get used to because with a visual style that reminded me of Ratchet & Clank I always wanted to jump and in fact many of the trickier

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encounters would have been a cakewalk had Wilbur been given that ability.  Took more than a few hours to get used to and even then I actively resented the limitation.

 

Meet the Robinsons pulls its inspirations from just about every sci-fi and cult classic (and not-so-classic) film and TV show for the last 60 years, including The Addams Family, 

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Forbidden Planet, the original TV Batman (Adam West is everywhere these days) and The Jetsons among many others.  Your average 10 – 13 year old won’t get any of these references, but for the older gamer – let’s say that’s anyone over the age of 30 – the references come off as obvious, to the point it’s not so much a reference as it is a rip-off.

 

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that that gameplay varies wildly.  You’ll square off in “Chargeball” mini-games, run courses while inside a giant hamster ball, and explore the usual gamut of more traditional platforming environments, spread, as they are, across various time frames since the central focus is stopping the villain who has acquired Wilbur’s dad’s time machine.  The hamster ball and Chargeball sections are entirely frustrating and forgettable.  The hamster ball sections aren’t optional, but the Chargeball challenges are and I’m sure the only thing that will encourage players to keep playing them are the Achievement Points.

 

Whether or not Meet the Robinsons is a compliment to the movie source is beside the point – the game is a standard, by-the-numbers platformer adventure.  There are some neat moments of exploration and odes to sci-fi classics, but the incongruent control scheme – that only gets it half right to boot – relegates Meet the Robinsons to a passing rental at best for your kids because it’s mostly harmless, which is ironic because I didn’t find any references to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

- Omni

(April 18, 2007)

 

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