Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was always one of those event films when I was growing up. You know the type, the kind of thing they show as a TV highlight at Christmas or Easter because they can't find (or have worn out) The Wizard of Oz. It was a bit of a surprise then when a remake was announced some years ago although I'm sure it was followed by a collective sigh of relief when people learned that it was none other than fantasy specialist Tim Burton in the director's chair with his favored leading man Johnny Depp taking on the leading role of Willy Wonka (made famous by the wonderful Gene Wilder) At the time of writing this new movie has been at the top of the US box office for just over two weeks with the general public and movie critics alike giving it the thumbs up. Can we say the same of the GBA version? Read on and see...
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an evolving game. Rather than sticking any one format, it starts out as a simple platformer then quickly grows into a rather cunning puzzler with a fair share of exploring and collecting which involves you using an increasing number of Oompa-Loompas to aid you in your quest. This starts to play out a little like Dinolympics on the Atari LYNX with you tagging these strange purple folk so they follow you, whilst tagging them again makes them stop in their tracks There are numerous reasons for this mobility which include everything from activating pressure pads so you can get through a locked door to powering generators for moving platforms. Needless to say this becomes considerably more complicated as the game progresses and you will occasionally wish for the simple platforming/collecting that preceded it.
Another reason why you're picking up just about everything you can find is to unlock the mini-games most of which become available from the main menu once you've collected the letters to spell out WONKA in a certain level. These are very enjoyable on the whole, it's just a shame that they couldn't have also have been integrated into the main game. Never mind, they're here anyway meaning you'll be popping this cart into your GBA well after you've completed the main game. Most of them involve the Oompa-Loompas and all of them are weird involving everything from battling squirrels with nuts to broadcasting chocolate. They even feature a high score feature which is saved to the handy battery back-up just in case you want to challenge anyone else to fishing Oompa-Loompas out of a vat of fudge.
The control is made very simple thanks to help and advice dished out at just about every stage of the game. This could be a signpost, a Golden Ticket winner or even Willy Wonka himself. The outcome is an experience where you always feel confident that you're at least going in the right direction even if some of the puzzles are a little difficult.
While by no means outstanding the developers have played it safe by producing a kind of cartoon version of the movie. This is very similar to a Saturday morning TV show and while some of the backgrounds are a little sparse there's always enough going on to keep you visually stimulated. The numerous cut screens lifted from the movie provide references to the big screen outing as do the many bonus images available if you decide to collect the tokens for the Oompa-Loompa Album.
Like the visuals, the sound effects and music are nothing outstanding but all manage to do a pleasing job of pushing along the action. As usual there are no samples or dialogue from the movie but you already expected that didn't you?
While Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is no Batman Begins it's certainly not the worst movie tie-in we've seen this year especially when you consider it's aimed at kids. I've always found it hard to be objective about younger games and while someone like me will find them too simplistic, my niece, who I always get a second opinion from in these situations, generally enjoys them and the more references it has to the movie in question the better. The difference here is that this game's actually quite tough and a good few younger players may grind to a halt half way through. This isn't entirely a bad thing and while the puzzles are challenging they're not impossible and it does have some great mini-games. That said, it's probably wise to keep this in mind before you actually buy it.
Pro: Nice Mini-Games
Con: Gets Very Difficult
Final score: 6.3
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|