Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Wii | Majesco / beHAVIOUR | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now (North America)
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote
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9th February 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
In imitation of games like Just Dance, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked takes the form of a dancing game where players use the Wii Remote to continually replicate on-screen actions as familiar tunes play in the background. Along the bottom of the screen, you'll see cue cards scroll to the right that help you prepare for any upcoming "changes" in the dance routine. As you rock out with Alvin and the rest of the gang, you'll be given different evaluations depending on how well you did a move, going up to the "Munktastic" level. With each action you perform perfectly, you'll add energy to the Munk Power Meter at the bottom right of the screen. When this becomes full, the next cue card in the queue will have your character busting out an "ultra cool" handstand (you don't have to copy this). At about the halfway mark of all songs, your character will also do a solo performance that just involves shaking the Wii Remote. In theory, this should all come together, but as if you couldn't already guess, it's all really shallow.
At the start of the game, you'll be asked to answer a simple personality quiz so the game can set you up with a chipmunk character that best suits your style. The questionnaire goes about asking you questions like what's your favourite colour, how you'd react in certain situations, and so on. They felt I could relate best to Simon, which sounds about right to me. It's been a while since I've seen a game implement a feature like this instead of a normal character selection.
Aside from the standard options for game customization, the game is divided up into three main gameplay modes: Story, Free Play, and Coop. The first two play out exactly the same with you choosing songs and dancing to them, except that in Story Mode, you're just forced to go through them more systematically and unlock songs gradually. They took a hint from the Just Dance series and made all songs available from the start in Free Play, but this actually makes Story Mode seem like a pointless addition as the only real reason behind its existence is the movie the game is based on. Coop allows you and a friend to take turns playing the same song, with players being forced to switch mid-way through with only a small warning ahead of time. The whole idea of having this mode in lieu of a simultaneous multiplayer option is really lame, and the execution of how this plays out isn't much better either.
As for the song picks in this game, I admit I was surprised to see one or two appear in the group, but the selection as a whole seems much more geared towards older folk with choices like "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Stayin' Alive". Of course, all of these are actually cover renditions with the Chipmunks taking over the vocal arrangements. In one case, they actually made a song I normally dislike actually sound somewhat likeable. Others were butchered (as in the case of "Turn the Beat Around"), and I found their rendition of "Video Killed the Radio Star" to be especially piercing to listen to. Across the board, songs are organized in a list format with no additional options for organization. At first I questioned why players aren't indicated what the difficulty is for each song, but I later realized that despite the occasional differences in speed, it's because they're all pretty much on the same level.
One of the biggest problems I have with this game is how incredibly repetitive the routines are. Seriously...the same moves appear again and again and again, even with each new song you try out. There are a few that are different from the rest in the sense that they're not used as much, but as a whole, the variety is completely absent. It's actually for that reason that I hesitated to refer to these transitions as "changes" earlier in the review. Everything is just rehashed so much that it completely flattens any kind of fun factor that could have been had.
The kind of progression that would otherwise take place in a properly structured dancing game is also missing here, clearly evidencing just how shallow the gameplay is. The dances themselves are really tame, even slow at times, and the whole game just lacks energy. Additionally, transitions between the different dance moves can feel off, with sequences initializing before the following set of lyrics are even introduced. So not only does the game really lack variety and energy, but you can also add flow to the list of things the game doesn't do very well.
On top of all this, my second biggest issue with this game is the waggle recognition. What initially seemed average was quickly deemed as unsatisfactory once a bunch of things came to light. When the game counts slight flicks of the wrist or off-beat motions as being adequate for a high rating, I naturally start to raise an eyebrow. Some moves can easily be executed without doing exactly what the game asks you to do, and if you do a variation on it (like, say, moving your arms back and forth like a robot), even that will suffice. Again, I'm not saying this is universally true, but it is still a valid concern. Never mind just awarding Munktastic ratings when players go too early, when I repeatedly did motions at double the speed of the game, I was consistently awarded high marks and Munk Power bonuses. It's one thing for a system to be forgiving, but when said system is already suffering from a lack of variety and flow, inaccurate motion tracking becomes a third strike that the game isn't able to recover from.
As far as presentation goes, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked doesn't look that great, especially with it releasing this late in the Wii's life cycle. The whole game not only looks very basic, but as has been discussed with the questionable gameplay, it feels basic as well. Most background environments look decent, but the water effects in the background of the beach scene looked a bit dated. There's nothing adorable about the character models, especially with Theodore looking deformed. Trust me, seeing him do a twist/shuffle move wasn't exactly pretty. When you think about it, though, all aspects of the game follow this to a tee.
Realistically, no one's really going to care about weak incentives like trophies that try to get you to stick with an already shallow game. The process of aiming for five-Star runs is made a totally boring concept since it involves exposing yourself to so much repetition. Such repetition quickly makes the dancing mechanics shallow and one-dimensional, which ultimately puts the entire game under question. And with the game giving players a poor consolation prize after failing to offer proper multiplayer incorporation, there really is nothing to keep you here. Then again, there isn't a lot of draw to pull you in to begin with.
When games like Just Dance are dominating, I couldn't help but ask myself why the developers bothered taking this approach in the first place. There is absolutely no reason to subject yourself to a dance game that, first of all doesn't even function well, and secondly, fails to provide any semblance of fun or satisfaction. Accuracy? Flow? Variety? Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked has none of that. There is nothing you could possibly want from this game. Even on the off chance you think you'd be treating someone of a younger age group to a fun time, the unoriginal, repetitious and shallow gameplay sends a strong message as to how worthless this game really is.
09/30 - Very Poor
Gameplay 2/10 - Really shallow and repetitive, feels slow, transitions don't always flow, doesn't do a good job of verifying the accuracy of your actions
Presentation 5/10 - Basic presentation, character models are hardly adorable, audio can be surprisingly decent one moment then piercing the next
Enjoyment 0/5 - Questionable gameplay strips this game of any kind of fun factor, lacks energy and variety giving you little reason to play at all
Extra Content 2/5 - Story Mode is pretty much the same as Free Play, Co-op Mode is lame, no reason to aim for anything, customization options
Equivalent to a score of 30% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System