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The Adventures of Tintin: The Game - Wii Review

Game Info
The Adventures of Tintin: The Game

Wii | Ubisoft | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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27th December 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

I used to love watching Tintin as a kid, so when I found out there was a game coming out, I was honestly ecstatic. Call me crazy, but the whole idea of a snoopy reporter who would always find his way into trouble sounded like something that would work well in video game form. And with the recent theatrical revival of this beloved French icon, who better to handle this property than Ubisoft? Has this adaptation turned out to be yet another worthless licensed game?

    The Adventures of Tintin: The Game is set up as a progressive story over the course of six chapters. Each chapter consists of various sequences that form the scope of the entire adventure, with 32 segments in all. Instead of having a hub world to tie everything together, traversing to new locations involves following dashed lines to the next area on a large surface map. Much of the game plays out like a side-scrolling platformer where you solve occasional puzzles and engage in combat with enemies. However, at other points in the game, it feels more like an adventure game as Tintin explores locations from a third-person perspective, searching for clues and asking townsfolk for information. Mixed in amongst these core elements, you also have three sub-games that are weaved into the storyline where you pilot a plane, engage in sword fights, and use a sidecar to get to a nearby destination. Because there's a mix of different gameplay styles here, you can't help but wonder if it's all going to come together well by the end of it.

    As the star of the show, you're obviously going to be taking control of Tintin for much of the experience. The basic setup involves using the Analog Stick on the Nunchuk to move and the A Button to jump. The A Button is also used in conjunction with the Up and Down presses of the Analog to climb up or hop down from ledges, and to enter doors. When you come across treasure chests, you can open them holding the B Button and shaking the Wii Remote, but as you can imagine, this feels unnecessary.

    There are points in the game where Tintin will come across areas that are unreachable for someone his size, so he'll instead enlist the help of his trusty sidekick, Snowy. In fact, at the very start of the game (i.e., post-prologue), you'll be using his dog Snowy to find him in a flea market. Holding the B Button will cause footprints to appear that you can trace back to the person who left them. Snowy can also be used to dig through holes in the ground by pressing the A Button. While exploring narrow passages, rats will come and try to attack you, but by shaking the Wii Remote, you can bark and scare them away. Although you'll be switching from Tintin to Snowy at different points in the game, you'll always have three lives to work with. Losing all your life points will initiate an animation where we see Tintin fall to the ground, limp from a bullet wound, or rise up from a body of water. It's extremely lame to say the least.

    The game adopts a very simple combat system during the side-scrolling areas, where shakes of the Wii Remote are used to throw punches. The Tintin I know could hold his own against grown men, but in bringing him back, they've made him appear a bit wimpy in his combat skills. You're even able to grab enemies by the legs and swing them face down to the ground or put them over your shoulder. Even despite what I just said, how is the kid able to do that? Tintin fans may find this aspect of the game a bit unwelcome in its approach.

    Much more appealing is the stealth gameplay that's often encouraged through the way Tintin quietly enters rooms and is able to secretly hang from ledges. Depending on the level you're in, Tintin can even hide in barrels, send bags of sand or chandeliers hurdling down, or jump up from a reversible metal platform and catch them by surprise. Additionally, certain areas have glass bottles, beach balls, ignitable torch sticks, bananas, or even explosives that you can chuck at enemies. When I found out you could use these against enemies, suddenly my ill feelings toward the shallow combat system had been replaced by something infinitely more amusing. And given how resourceful Tintin always was in the comics and the television show, it's a very fitting decision.

    Those same items will also be needed for solving simple puzzles along the way, usually involving a switch being activated or ropes being burned. There are also boxes that you need to drag into place, as well as other interactive elements that you need to turn or pull to lower platforms. Later on, Captain Haddock becomes Tintin's partner, and by clearing the way for him, he can volley you upwards to reach extendable ladders that can't be reached with a normal jump. Separate from the levels, there are some plot-related puzzles where your cursor will be used to twist masts and reveal an image or line up multiple pieces of paper together. At the end of the day, everything carries the same general feeling: they don't interfere with your enjoyment of the game, but they don't enhance it either.

The level designs themselves are surprisingly good. As you explore a bunch of different rooms in a mansion, you'll be climbing up and down chimneys, rolling through vent-like shafts, walking inside large bookcases, wall-jumping inside narrow passages, and exploring dark tunnels with your trusty flashlight. Sure you have your usual teeter-totter and ferris-wheel-type platforms, but everything else just feels so sneaky and investigative with the way the environments have been designed. The same is true as you explore the interior of a ship, and later, a royal Arabian palace. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed the look of nearly all the environments and I definitely think the overall art direction works. It demands attention inasmuch as it feels so different from all the dreary and lifeless locales seen over the years in this sub-genre. And that's definitely something Ubisoft should feel proud of.

    As you travel to different rooms and other parts of the environments, dynamic camera angles are implemented to add interest and create some suspense. Plenty of these changes occur during platforming segments as you visit different rooms and hallways within the same environment. The camera even switches from side-scrolling to third-person view at times when the game wants to return to its adventure roots. At one point, Tintin is running away from two men who are giving chase in a car, and as he turns down an alleyway, the camera shifts to inside the vehicle where you can see Tintin directly ahead with the two men in front. There were instances where I wanted manual control, but overall, the camera usage is definitely something worth praising about this game.

    Breaking away slightly from the standard format are three sub-missions (referenced earlier) that pop up from time to time. The first of these is a flight segment where you use the Analog Stock to control a plane through caverns and stormy weather. It definitely tries to be exciting with giant rocks falling as you go through caves and turrets firing at you from small and large blimps. But these are usually slow and lacking in fun factor. The second set of missions is the most boring. You simply take control of one of Haddock's ancestors in an on-rails segment, using swings of the Wii Remote to attack with your sword and the B Button to defend. The presentation values here aren't good, the execution feels sloppy, and the quick-time events feel like they were just thrown in for no real reason. Finally, sidecar driving has you commandeering a bike, taking turns with Haddock on who's driving and who's defending with a slingshot. They fulfill their roles in the development of the plot, but that's about it.

    In addition to the Plane, Sword and Sidecar components, there are some additional moments where we see some variety in the game design. There are multiple points in the game where you'll be running away from something, whether that take the form of a (rather slow) car or gushing water in an enclosed space. You'll also spend some time beneath the surface as well, swimming through underwater caverns with a motor-powered aquatic device, dodging walls, mines and large jellyfish. Likely in keeping with the sailor themes present in the game, you'll also get some help from a parrot to bring you to new heights when visiting the nice-looking palace environment. And finally, three boss battles also take place over the course of the adventure, and although the setup doesn't change all that much each time, it's surprisingly decent. Having such a variety of environments to be in and different gameplay styles to participate in does feel great and it prevents the game from becoming dull. 

Before you start getting all excited over the somewhat desirable state of this game, you should know that the way they've strung everything together leaves much to be desired. First of all, there are times where you'll go inside a door or travel to the end of the screen, and the game will abruptly switch to a loading screen that initially makes you think something is about to happen. Also, when Haddock tells the story of his ancestor, players assume the role of this figure within the contexts of a pirate invastion. It just feels choppy the way you bounce to and fro between some of the different segments, and had things been more sequential and smooth, it would've made it a lot easier for players to warm up to the positive elements.

    From the very beginning of the game, I was turned off by some of the things I saw, and by the halfway mark, I had very mixed feelings about the entire experience. Thankfully the game improved from that point onwards. There was a point where I was actually enjoying myself, and furthermore, could see others feeling the same way. As I've brought forth, though, the decisions they've made with regards to the overall structure make it hard to view the entire experience as something worthwhile. Instead, it feels like the game has a few fun portions with preventable stuff getting in the way of maximum enjoyment.

Giving me all the more reason to view the game in such a light, there are many areas throughout where presentation values clearly take a hit. You could tell that the cutscenes and even some of the loading screens are compressed as they often have a grainy appearance. That definitely took away from the mood. Added onto that, I encountered a fair share of glitches in my experience with the game. There was one point where the camera was focusing on Haddock, and Tintin was apparently walking towards the end of a hallway, but all you can see for a while is a black circle on the ground. I didn't understand why Snowy would randomly appear after I lost all three lives, especially when, prior to that, there was an impression that he was temporarily left behind while you went on your search. The most laughable incident was during a battle where the boss threw a bomb at me and yelled "Stop!", and then one second later, the game froze! This is just a sample of the different things I noticed as I went along, and you can bet that all of this contributes to a not-so-positive view of the game.

    Another thing that becomes a bit bothersome over time is the voice acting. I did appreciate the way the characters would engage in relevant discussion about where they were going as you played through a level, but there were times when the less specific voice clips were repeated multiple times. For example, "the bad guys" would repeatedly make comments like "I get the day off tomorrow" whenever you got close to them. The worst offender is Captain Haddock's constant murmurings about the opponents in front of him. It becomes annoying to hear him call someone an orangutan or a parasite so many times.

On a related note, the voice acting throughout is hardly convincing, especially with the way the characters look and the way they've been animated. You can't really take the game seriously when people try to make genuine facial expressions, yet their visage isn't close to attractive. Just as an example of that, when I first saw Tintin's face, I was taken aback by how... disturbing he looked during cutscenes. This is something I had to wrestle with for the entire game, not only with how Tintin came across, but really most of the key characters. Additionally, I observed some inconsistencies with the voice clips that were played. For example, during one of sidecar portions, Tintin made the exclamation "Just drive!" as a way of shutting Haddock up, but at the time he was the one driving. Something similar happened during the flight missions where Tintin would yell "We're taking fire!" when they merely touched part of a cave wall. So while some of the effort here is above average, it's still in need of refining.

    Generally I found the music throughout the game to be quite good. In spite of how cheesy some of the songs sound, they do give the feeling that you're playing through a movie, and that's exactly what they were aiming for. Some of the placement of certain tracks did feel a bit off, like the tune heard when using Snowy to search inside small passages. With the stringed instruments used here, I felt it sounded less fitting for times when you're trying to sneak around looking for clues and more in tune with the atmosphere of the Flea Market location. Still, I do feel the developers did a commendable job here as well.

The entire game is about a four-hour affair, which isn't a bad length at all especially with how other licensed games are over so quick. Beyond the main adventure mode, there's an additional gameplay mode under the 'Tintin and Haddock' selection. This acts much like a playable epilogue that picks things up from the ending and offers more in the way of content and puzzles, with a lesser focus on story. With the added benefit of being able to play co-operatively with a friend, this bonus inclusion does a great job of extending the game's life and giving players more opportunities to have fun without weaker filler elements.

    Aside from that, you also have a place to view your collected bonus material, as well as the option to complete different challenges based on the three secondary adventure components: Sword, Plane, and Sidecar. The developers saw to it to include Wii MotionPlus functionality here, but there's really no reason to take advantage of it. Even in the sword fights, the normal Wii Remote on its own works just fine and the game reads your motions well enough that you shouldn't have concerns over accuracy or precision. And even still, as mentioned above, these segments aren't enjoyable anyway, and having that added control scheme doesn't improve matters. More than likely you didn't collect all the treasure chests the first time you went through levels, so that's another area where you can derive some replay value from. So although not everyone will feel compelled to continue playing, there is stuff for you to do.

    The Adventures of Tintin has the makings of a surprisingly pleasant licensed game at its core. While the experience as a whole is bogged down by problems that really could have been avoided with more care and polish, there are some good points that try to surface along the way -- namely, the art direction, the dynamic camera angles, some of the level design, and the soundtrack. It's a much better turnout than most licensed games, but with there still being much room for improvement, it's very difficult for me to fully recommend the game. If you think you can overlook the presentation issues, then at the very least, the game is worth trying at some point.

21/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Basic cmbat and simple puzzles, good level design, multiple styles, some elements hold it back, not strung together as well as it could be
Presentation 6/10 - Art direction works well, character models needed work, voice acting is a mixed bag, good soundtrack, choppy and glitchy in places
Enjoyment 3/5 - Not as fun at the start but it does get better, second mode is quite enjoyable especially with a friend, technical flaws get in the way
Extra Content 5/5 - Lasts longer than most licensed games, Tintin and Haddock bonus with a co-op feature, hidden treasure chests, additional challenges

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

The Adventures of Tintin: The Game
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