Bee Movie (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
In sitcom land, at least, the 90's belonged to Jerry Seinfeld whose show gained record audience figures for the majority of the time it was on the air. That was until, without warning, Jerry decided he'd had enough and he decided to call it a day just before we entered the Millennium. Since then he's done a little stand up and a few guest spots on other shows but The Bee Movie marks his real return to mainstream entertainment. The movie is currently gaining some positive reviews but what's the game like?
The game sees you playing the lead part of Barry. B. Benson who, whilst just an average Joe, dreams of becoming one of the elite Pollen Jacks. These are probably best described as Elite Bees. You know the kind of thing: the school quarter-back, the person that scores all the goals, an all-rounder who almost everyone envies and what the Pollen Jacks do here is collect pollen. Outside of the hive! That may not be terribly exciting to the average human but all the other bees are assigned to 'indoor' desk jobs. It's here where we join Barry, recently graduated, but aspiring to greater heights than his physical build would suggest.
The game takes place via a number of quests throughout the hive and three outdoor locations: Central Park, A Shop and The Honey Factory. The quests themselves are mainly of the 'locate an object and bring it back' variety but there are also some races. To add extra pressure these are all done against a timer, which counts down throughout the locations. Central Park, for example, has the weather as an alarm and spending too long outdoors will cause it to rain. This can be reset, of course, by simply finding shelter. The Shop is similar except this features an alarm system that can be turned off by a simple switch. Another aspect of the game is to improve your overall fitness so you can become stronger, faster and able to reach greater heights. This is where the mini-game aspects come into play and providing you have amassed enough yellow pollen you can work out with the best but only when you have shown you're willing by undertaking enough tasks. This kind of pacing does lengthen the gameplay because of the constant re-visiting of locations but, in the end, you'll still wish the whole thing was a little longer.
Given that you can fly as well as run around at ground level the control system is not only very tight but also incredibly intuitive. Other developers please take note.
For a DS title running a 3D engine the various locations are stunning in their design and attention to detail. These are all reasonably sizeable too with Barry able to view the whole thing from as high as a street lamp (on the central park section). Elsewhere the engine also pulls off some impressive animated cut scenes and don't forget to check out the top screen whenever you are playing one of the touch screen mini-games.
The game manages to put enough memory aside to play the wonderful movie score throughout the levels which makes for a refreshing change for a game of this nature. In addition to this you'll also be treated to some original voice over work by Mr. Seinfeld himself and while this only amounts to the odd 'wow', 'alright' etc it's still a great deal better than the usual sound-a-like.
The majority of the bottom screen time is given over to simple map use but there are also some touch screen mini-games. These are all based around exercising and improving your abilities and while they are all a simple case of hitting targets and tracing lines they're still a welcome break from the main game.
The Bee Movie is an incredible demonstration of just what the DS is capable of with great sound and visuals as well as engaging level designs. The problem is, it's just too short and your average gamer will complete the whole thing in a matter of hours. There is a little more gameplay available if you wish to attain the full 100% completion but this still won't extend the game enough. With a little more work this could easily have been the movie tie-in game of the year but instead what you are left with is more like a technically impressive demo.
Pro: Great Sound and Visuals.
Con: Short Story Mode, Too Many Fetch Quests.
Final score: 6.9