The first digitally animated movies only realistically came out a short while ago, but the technology and the success that these films achieve have changed the way animated movies are made. Sure, there are still a few folks out there valiantly trying to keep the ideas and ideals of hand-animation alive, but the big block-busters are being made by computer geeks.
It would seem to make sense that it would be simpler to make a video game based on a movie like this than one based on hand animation or live action. That said, it really doesn’t seem to matter all that much – virtually every big movie (of a certain type) gets a video game these days. So, no surprises that Dreamworks’ Megamind has got the video game treatment, then. And it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect; a video game aimed at a younger audience, as uncomplicated and entertaining as possible. But it is a little better than the average game made under these circumstances. Megamind: Ultimate Showdown is actually fairly challenging, and quite fun to play, all things considered.
The game, like the film, tells of the nefarious supervillain, Megamind, but in the game he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to make a go of the straight and narrow. In the game, Megamind has been wronged by his rival, Blue Tighten (a fantastic name that never fails to get me to grin) and needs to reconstruct a machine that was stolen by his enemy. The plot, essentially, is simple and not really all that important. It’s the addictive platforming action that matters far more.
Seeing as how it is aimed at the younger generation, the game sometimes devolves into very repetitive game dynamics. The player will fight their way through numerous levels, using Megamind’s hand-to-hand skills, as well as a few upgradable weapons. Upgrading is not all that difficult… the player collects energy called B.I.N.K.E.Y virtually everywhere, which is used to buy upgrades. B.I.N.K.E.Y can be earned by beating enemies, trashing the environment, or just by finding it lying around absolutely anywhere. The end result is an environment that is very trashable… cars, benches, telephone booths and almost everything else can be a source of B.I.N.K.E.Y, and the player will likely spend a lot of time just breaking stuff to buy all those upgrades.
The challenge comes in when some of the stages demand fairly accurate timing and movement to get through. Still, the kids are catered for; dying in the game isn’t punished much at all, and copious checkpoints mean that the player will never have to slog through a whole level over again after a cheap death.
To break potential monotony, the game offers several mini-games, including pod-races and mega-ball challenges.
The latter are quite fun; the player needs to traverse a treacherous obstacle course while inside a big, transparent sphere. Each of the mini-game types has different modes, which add even more variety to the game. And the single player campaign can be played co-op, adding even more fun to the mix.
But that repetition raises its ugly head once again. Even with the parts of the game that are based on movement puzzles can get repetitive, as the player needs to locate twitches, pull boxes and relocate explosives to get through the levels. Each set of levels has its own kind of ideas, though, which keeps things on the fresher side.
If you’re looking for a fun family title that is easy to play, addictive and enjoyable, while remaining inoffensive and generally kid-friendly, Megamind: Ultimate Showdown is a great option. The recognisable characters are always a bonus, if the kids have seen the film, and the longevity of the game is considerable. It will provide a few cheap deaths here and there, but nothing that should prove too frustrating for gamers of almost any age.
Where many games based on movies feel rushed and unfinished, Megamind comes across as polished and professional. The good graphics and excellent voice acting make the game enjoyable, and the ease of play and regular prompting that the game gives the player makes it easy for youngsters to come to grips with. The mini-games and co-op indicate that the developers were keen on producing a better than average experience, rather than trying to make a quick buck. If you or your kids enjoyed the film, the game is well worth considering.
At A Glance
A fairly good adaptation of the movie, although it does have a lot of repetition.
Distributor: Ster Kinekor