Monsters vs Aliens (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



When the first Toy Story was released over a decade ago, some sections of the animation community questioned the integrity of computer animation. Surely it wasn't real animation if it wasn't actually drawn? We've come to realize that the full length CGI movie has just as much creative talent poured into it as a more traditional release and, while some can be a little hit and miss, others go on to win Oscars and multiple awards. Monsters vs. Aliens could be one such movie and while I generally review film and TV tie-ins without actually seeing the thing they are based on, I have actually been the cinema to see Dreamworks latest and it's hugely entertaining. What all this means for the game is anyone's guess but please don't give us another platformer... please.


The game is definitely 'inspired by' the movie rather than a scene-by-scene account of the story. You can play all five 'monsters' to try to rid the earth of the aliens. This plays as a basic platformer with each member of the team possessing slightly different abilities. Ginormica (who was just an ordinary girl before being hit by a meteor) has both size and strength on her side but her only real challenge will be to jump rather large gaps. Both B.O.B. and The Missing Link have the ability to stick to walls but whereas B.O.B. can transform into other objects (another mini-game which involves you tracing over outlines within a time period) and move through grids and bars, Link is more of a fighter. The platforming changes to a puzzler when you take over Dr. Cockroach whilst Insectosaurus is the largest of the group and has the ability to knock down huge building and other robots.

Unfortunately all of this is pretty linear and you'll never be stopped in your tracks because you don't know what to do and you'll rarely have to restart a level because you've run out of health. The only bit of strategy you need is with the collectibles where, for instance, picking up the Monster DNA allows you to increase the team's health and other abilities in addition to unlocking a handful of other puzzles. There's also the option to unlock other 'skins', by collecting trash, but we never really saw the point of this.


While you do have the option to use the stylus to control your characters, in this game the traditional controls are much more satisfying even if you do have to resort to the touch-screen for the odd interaction. There are five characters here but don't worry about getting to grips with the various controls as there's a lengthy tutorial/training section which you'll have to play before battling it out with any aliens at all.


Visually this is one of the better looking movie tie-ins around but given that the visuals can simply be lifted from the source material, it's the least we've come to expect from this type of game. That said the various outdoor environments have been well designed and the character modeling and animation is well above average. It's just a shame there's no FMV or unlockable scenes from the movie itself


In addition to some great slices of the soundtrack you'll also get some wonderful voice acting with all the original main players lending their talents. While this is much more common now it does make the game that much more entertaining given that this is one of the main reasons why the movie is so good.

Dual screen

As we've already mentioned you can either opt to control the various characters via the d-pad and buttons or go for the much more difficult touch screen control. Obviously, for the platforming sections, we'd recommend the former but there is the odd occasion where you'll be forced to whip out your stylus. This can be due to the troublesome doors that insist on closing when playing as Ginormica where you simply have too brush the stylus in the direction of the arrow on the touch-screen. Unfortunately this slows the gameplay down and it does feel like it's been added at the last minute just to tap into the DS's features. There is one section though where you must use the stylus in order to progress. This is when playing as Dr. Cockroach who is the brains behind the team and is so charged with hacking computers etc. This translates here to the classic mirror and laser game where you must reposition reflective surfaces in order to direct the laser to its final destination.

Final comments

Monsters vs. Aliens begins quite well and the idea that the different members of the team have to work together using their unique abilities should make for an entertaining title. Unfortunately you'll quickly discover just how similar all of the gameplay is, not to mention simple and sadly you'll fly though it in only a few hours. There's also very little in the way of replay value and once you've unlocked all the puzzles you are unlikely to come back to this ever again. It's a shame really as the game looks and sounds wonderful but we can only really recommend it for very young gamers.

Pro: Lots of Great Voice Work, Nice Animation.
Con: Very Short, Little Replay Value
Final score: 6.5


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Boxart of Monsters vs Aliens (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Publisher: Activision