Not many things make me nostalgic about my early childhood, but the book ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ always brings back fond memories.
The live-action film from Spikes Jonez has me a little concerned about the desecration of my childhood, but then again… this IS the guy who brought us ‘Being John Malkovich’.
My feelings about the movie aside, I decided to check out the requisite tie-in game, hoping it would do the book justice.
Full review inside.
I played this game knowing full well it was intended for children, and I need to make that absolutely clear.
Aesthetically ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ is an extension of the popular children’s book. All the Wild Things will be familiar to kids who read the book, and adults who remember it fondly.
Locations and overall visual style are a direct lift from existing material. If you know the material, you’ll feel right at home, even down to the dance that you can trigger with Max.
After only a few minutes of playing, realization sets in: this game is repetitive. Did I mention it’s repetitive? Oh yeah, it repeats itself a lot.
This is common in games aimed at a younger audience, apparently that demographic is okay with redundancy.
Basic gameplay follows this formula: follow a Wild Thing through the jungle, fight some insects, collect items, rinse, repeat.
Once in a while you’ll be asked to ride a Wild Thing, or do some sailing, and there are cutscenes… but really, you’ll be whacking a LOT of bugs with a stick and doing a LOT of platforming.
This might be fine for you, or your child, but there’s something I haven’t mentioned yet: the controls for this game are broken.
You’ll be playing in a third-person perspective, but rather than putting the camera roughly behind your character, the game shifts left or right of center by a LONG way. Sometimes you can rotate the camera slightly to mitigate the perspective problems, but most of the time you are unable to shift the view enough to make a difference.
There were times where making a single jump or walking across a fallen log took DOZENS of attempts before I made it safely. I died a lot, and I blame unresponsive controls and a shifting camera angle that isn’t under your control… that ALSO shifts your angle on the controls.
An example: walking across a log spanning a deep canyon, I would push the left stick directly to the right. As I progressed across the log, the camera would spin around to the left to provide a better view of the action. When this happens, pushing the stick to the right now causes my character to leap off the right side of the log to his death.
The only way to stay on the log is to match your moves with the motion of the camera.
You show me a six year old that has that skill mastered, and I’ll show you a future surgeon.
The controls are simply broken. Broken if you’re an adult, and tear inducing if you’re a young child.
It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown a controller in frustration, but this game almost had me to that point every five minutes of gameplay.
Some of the sandbox play in the Wild Things village was fun, but really… after 10 minutes, you’ve done everything possible in that area.
‘Where The Wild Things Are’ definitely has a place: as punishment for an unruly child, it would definitely be more effective than a Time Out. Then again, Department of Family Services may consider it child abuse.
Matt says DODGE IT.
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