Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew

5.5

Introduction

If you've been reading DS-x2 for any time at all you'll know what we think of the majority of movie-tie in's. The basis of this rather shoddy treatment of the gaming public must stem from a recent survey indicating that the general public purchase games based on films not because of positive reviews but becaasue they enjoyed the movie. Now you can understand this with books but games? THQ and Disney have gone one further here with the sequal to the original big screen outing posing the question 'what happens next?' The answer, of course, lies in the plot of the game with the Underminer reeking havock on our two super heros.

Gameplay

Like the original the main objectives here are rather simple as in stay alive and smash everything in your path. Where this differs from the last is the introduction of some reasonably satisfying puzzle elements this never amount to more than pressing a button to activate an exit of some description but help break up the action none the less. The levels themselves are pretty bland affairs with little to mark the beginning and end and the only indication you are progressing through the game is the fact that the enemies become slightly larger and more robust. Strangely though, for a game of this design, there's no end of level bosses and the only indication that you've completed a stage is the fact that the screen chages to a points counter calculating the stage score. This also presents another mystry of the game in that throughout the various levels you collect tokens which, other than points, are absolutely useless. No shop to trade them in for say extra lives or concept art, nothing. Another rather anoying part of the game design is the enemies ability to shoot around courners and while you'll initially consider yourself safe when backtracking slightly you'll suddenly be hit by, what could be a fatal, laser blast.

One of the greatest improvements Rise of the Underminer has on it's preedesesor is the inclusion of another playable character who can be summoned at any time with the press of a button. It's not a case of playing as your favourite either and Mr Freeze has very different skills (including the ability to surf on a bed of ice) to Mr Incredible and it's only by combining their skills will you overcome the more difficult puzzles. This is also the case in the multiplayer although because of the developers decision to only allow this with a copy of the game for each player it will clearly have limited appeal.

Controls

Not bad at all thanks to the various 'help' robots which populate the first few levels pointing out just about everything you need to know to play the game.

Graphics

As with a fair few DS titles now Rise of the Underminer is built upon a king of 2.5D engine and while it does appear to be 3D on occasions you are on a fixed path. The visually trickery is pushed even more when the camera starts to move and if you are required to view a full puzzle it may pull out or drift above you allowing you to see just how detailed some of the environments are. There's also some nice cut screens (which seem to be mysteriousley absent from the middle of the game) that push the story along nicely although given the DS's power why weren't these simply FMV clips?

Sound

Great Soundtrack lifted from the movie plays throughout the game adding to the overall super hero atmosphere. Dissapointingly though the sound effects are all rather generic with the main characters silent.

Dual screen

Quite frankly one of the most redundant uses of the touch screen we've seen yet with any interaction making the game incredibly frustrating. This is because the developers have decided that various points in the game could be controlled by the touch screen. this has been attempted before with great success in the recent Ultimate Spider-Man but the whole thing here just falls flat on it's face.

Final comments

While this is technically superior to the GBA original of a year ago it still contains the same repetetive and frustrating gameplay. The developers have though addressed some of previous criticisms and the indroduction of another playable character (Mr Freeze only appeard briefly in the original) and mouch greater focus on the puzzle elements gives a greater incentiev to play things through to the end. In addition to this the whole presentation from the front end menus through the soundtrack to the actual gamng engine is stunning although a few more levels above ground would have been a huge plus. Overall though whilst full to the brim with eye candy Rise of the Underminer just doesn't have it where it counts: gameplay and even the multiplayer option adds little to the repetetive levels. A definate try before you buy.

Pro: Play as Mr Incredible and Mr Freeze, Great Sound and Visuals.
Con: Incredibly Repeteetive, Pointless Touch Screen Design.
Final score: 5.5

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Boxart of Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action
Developer: Helixe
Publisher: THQ

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