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Wreck-It Ralph - DS Review

Game Info
Wreck-It Ralph

DS | Activision / Pipeworks / ImaginEngine | 1 Player | Out Now
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6th December 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Demolition sites are some of the most disturbed settings provoked by man-made methods, with violent amounts of leftover rubble requiring a vicious clean-up effort. In the aftermath of these surfacing displays of destruction, it would be utterly delusional to then think that the resulting vestige could serve to help reconstruct or devise a new shelter; yet it is with similar levels of delirium that the videogame accompaniment to Wreck-It Ralph has been developed. Exhibiting much more than just wear and tear, it would only be in anguish to expose yourself to the travesty that is the DS version, the fragments of which are very troubling in their poorly-considered state.

    The prime function served by the game is that of an amateurish, 2D platformer with an alternating, tag-team structure. Leading off from Game Central Station, the main hub, are three different worlds where Cy-Bugs and other threats await. Controlling Ralph or Fix-It Felix at a given time, levels are designed to have you switching between the two on a regular basis so as to affect parts of the environment using skills unique to the person that will, in turn, create openings and allow you to cross over hazards safely. Ralph can climb ladders, push or pull crates, and do a ground pound, while Felix's skill set concentrates more on reaching heights that Ralph can't access due to his bulk, and also mending panels that have gone haywire. The two need each other, that much is certain, but it's not the kind of necessary friendship that has any amount of charisma or elevates a unique bond, nor are the conditions for this type of engagement explored in a wide assortment or even highlight a detectable strength in a preliminary state. These are characters you won't care much for or feel even remotely attached to helping with their quest...but I suppose that's to be expected.

    Very rarely, if at all, will you ever find yourself confused or at a loss for how to proceed due to the combined use of audio and visual cues to indicate when a character switch is needed in order to advance. The game adopts a comfortable control configuration that won't be the culprit of any issues you might encounter. And on a similar note, health refills gradually so it's not often that you'll die by reason of an enemy encounter, and even if you do, there are floppy disks put in place as a checkpoint system to minimize the frustration that could come from unplanned deaths. In a sense, the game behaves rather dutifully in responding to the mold that confines its parameters and also the conventions that are often closely associated with games of the platformer genre. Unfortunately, in all other respects, one can hardly discern that there's been a similar level of responsibility that would signify stimulated exertion.

    One thing I should get straight before we go any further: the ideas behind the game's design, as basic as they are, aren't terrible in themselves. True, they may be innately plain and mundane, but the formation could still be such that it generates a response of relative acceptance, however unpleasing. Completely eradicating such possibilities is not only the rudimentary state of its behaviours but also its process of introducing corrupting elements, both of which do a dismal job of trying to beckon players to its dated and dreadfully improper design structure. Putting aside ordinary instances where it's simply a matter of walking along a defined path or leaping across airborne platforms, there is an abundance of mid-level areas that aren't designed well at all. You'll find yourself stuck in small spaces with flying bugs (and a springy ramp, no less!); or trying to avoid chain-wrapped stone blocks where touching any part will cause you to lose health, meanwhile there isn't enough room to navigate effectively; and there are also places where gaps between damaging compactors, block platforms and the base path aren't evenly spaced-out, and only result in you getting hit by these traps. 

Disaster also strikes by means of bad enemy placement that surfaces with such regularity that it just becomes expected as you go along that your progress will be impeded, not through functional and challenging means, but by undesirable methods. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to place an enemy atop a row of trampolines? That might not sound like a big deal to you...until I mention that you can't squash it with a simple jump. Maybe now you can guess what happens next? The enemy attacks, thus voiding the bounce effect, and these trampolines are then treated as normal platforms you can walk across, which obviously was not the intention at all. Enemies are also irregular in their responses and sometimes behave as though they've been hit with amnesia by the way they choose to completely ignore your presence, even when you're nearby. Then, at other times, they can sense you coming from a distance or are arranged in such a way that it's common to be attacked from an awkward position. And while not performing the same offenses, the outlook still has the same bleak quality when thinking about how the boss battles in this game fare as well.

    Inconsistencies also protrude out of the sloppy level design. In one area, there was a ledge that was too high for even a double jump, and since there were no further points of elevations you could launch yourself from, this move was really the only way to get up there. This I know because after trying repeatedly and winding up just below it, I was finally able to just barely reach the hold so I could pull myself up. Then there was another spot where the player is instructed to toss a hammer from an inch or so away, but I was just as easily able to squeeze through and wedge myself in an area that really shouldn't have allowed me room to do so. Wreck-It Ralph is inundated with glitches, including characters grabbing onto and hanging from doors; objects disappearing in plain sight; coins not being added to your collection even as you seemingly pass through them in a mid-air jump; enemies attacking during locked camera changes (e.g., when showing that a door has now opened in a nearby area); even getting stuck inside moving platforms or clusters of enemies, as often occurs when trying to use Ralph's ram ability. It's awful how badly (and quickly) the game transitions to this rather degenerate state, defined by terrible programming that doesn't add any sort of positive influence on design that already has such heinous qualities to it.

Before you even get to these disturbances, you'll be much more inclined to take note of the exceedingly lousy presentation. Cutscenes display very rough images of the characters, the colour scheme has a very faded look to it that is rather unpleasing, the framerate is choppy in places, and the music sounds like something out of an ancient computer program. And if you were expecting videogame allusions and cultural references in any form, you can dash all such hopes to the same place where this game is destined to make a home. All of this is in keeping with the full personification of an out-of-touch mindset and extremely flaky delivery.

    Less than two hours in, after the main mode has been experienced to its full capacity, Game Mode+ opens up to offer new rules as you go about going through the same trying levels again. There's also concept artwork to unlock and literal easter eggs to collect, but will anyone actually bother or care when the formula is so poor? Highly unlikely.

    Ultimately descending to a place of ill repute and inflicting needless suffering onto unsuspecting players, all Wreck-It Ralph merits is a complete collapse, and that is for reason of structurally unsound gameplay that needs fixing of its own. With a state of extended disrepair, this is a pretty pathetic movie tie-in with flaws so glaring and uncontrolled I can't even think about mentioning this game in a positive frame of mind.

08/30 - Simply Awful

Gameplay 3/10 - Basic mechanics, levels have a number of cases of bad design, enemy placement and (lack of) intelligence only compound matters
Presentation 2/10 - Audio and visual cues prompt character switches, a startling number of glitches, terrible programming, very little is acceptable
Enjoyment 1/5 - All-around sloppy performanceno life to the character bond, checkpoints help with unplanned deaths, almost nothing positive to say
Extra Content 2/5 - Over in a very short time, Game Mode+ adds new conditions, concept artwork to unlock but matters little in the end

Equivalent to a score of 27% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Wreck-It Ralph
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