Night at the Museum 2 (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



The idea that everything comes to life when the lights are turned out in a museum has probably crossed just about everyone's mind at one time or another. If fact, when the trailer first premiered for the first movie, you did wonder just why this story hadn't been brought to the screen decades earlier. Stranger still was the fact that no game was produced to coincide with the first release. Whether everyone passed on it (which they did with the original Matrix) or it wasn't made available is anyone's guess but Majesco clearly aren't going to let this one escape them. The movie has been doing incredibly well worldwide so what's the game like?


Given just how confusing the 'story' is, it's probably better just to focus on the gameplay but if you do work out what's going on, please let us know. Battle of the Smithsonian takes you around various themed areas of the museum jumping from one platformer to another and disposing of enemies with your handy flashlight. Exploration is encouraged and you'll be able to pick up badges, keys and a number of other collectibles. Not all areas are open to begin with though, simply because you lack the magic ability to enter them. These can be picked up further in the game allowing you to reach greater heights, fly across large areas and even miniaturise yourself. There's no Multiplayer and the gameplay is incredibly straightforward although, due to the various fact boxes which litter the areas, you may just learn a thing or two while playing it.


Other than your standard moves such as run and jump, you'll also be awarded a number of special moves which you collect as you move though the levels. These allow you to reach areas which are otherwise inaccessible and include the aforementioned ability to jump to greater heights or shrink yourself to get into some of the smaller areas.  Happily this does make for some interesting platforming action and, because you don't have all these special moves to start with, a much less linear experience.  


The actual backgrounds aren't bad; they're just not a patch on what we all now know the DS is capable of. The various character sprites however are really disappointing, they're reasonably well animated but have almost no detail at all and the result is more a mass of coloured blobs than anything approaching an actual person. Worse still are the cut screens which are frankly scary, with Ben Stiller in particular the stuff of nightmares. It's clear that the developers should have gone with cut-screens lifted from the movie as the graphics engine used here simply isn't powerful enough.


The audio is actually one of the strongest elements of the whole package as not only are you treated to an impressive orchestral score but also some well crafted sound effects.

Dual screen

The touch-screen elements are very poor. Rather than add a selection of stylus driven games the developers have instead used this function to allow you to select the various 'special abilities'. It's functional but hardly groundbreaking.  

Final comments

In the end Battle of the Smithsonian is, thankfully, much better than your average platformer due to the various added extras. Yes, there's little in the way of a story (odd, given that it's based on a movie) and some of the visuals are highly questionable but there's still much to recommend. The extra abilities allow for a more interesting platforming experience and the fact that you don't have them all to begin with does extend the gameplay. The various educational facts and figures you are fed, as you wander around the exhibition are a nice touch and certainly make this one of the better 'educational' titles available. Unfortunately it's still all over a little too quickly and, with little replay value, it is a short lived experience. Still, if your children enjoyed the film then there's every reason to believe that they are going to get a kick out of this at least until the DVD comes out.

Pro: Good Representation of the Movie, Better than we Expected.
Con: Average Sound and Graphics, Nothing Really New
Final score: 6.7


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Boxart of Night at the Museum 2 (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action / Adventure
Developer: Fizz Factor Studios
Publisher: Majesco