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February 26, 2016

WALL-E (Wii) (Part 1)

In my collection of Wii games, there are some games that I thought would be a good idea, then I realized I’d keep playing other games instead. And my hobby as a reviewer meant I had no time for those games. Well, today I’m looking at once of those games, and I’ll try to play through it.

What else are two robots going to do? It's not like they
can offer gifts to each other.... right?
Everyone remembers WALL-E? Of course you do. Who can forget the little Pixar robot, more adorable than any trash compactor should ever have the right to be, and you can just feel yourself melt at the sight of those puppy-dog vision captors… Yeah, I know what it’s like. The movie is often hailed as one of Pixar’s best, with its first 30 minutes considered one of the greatest pieces of CGI animation ever created, and the rest of the film being considered at least okay (I still like the whole movie, though, but is that a surprise? I like most things.). As with every popular movie, a video game adaptation had to follow to get more money from the viewer’s pockets, and hopefully provide them with a chance to play as the heroes of the film. Video game adaptations of films are frequently below par in terms of video game quality, and sometimes never go beyond being simple cash-grabs. However, not all video game adaptations are absolutely terrible, there are some good ones out there. What can I say about the video game adaptation of WALL-E? Is it good, is it bad? I'll only find out by playing it. Let's start!

Ha! Two blocks! Beat that, meatpeople!
When the game begins, we see scenes similar to those at the beginning of the movie. WALL-E is alone, compacting trash in this desert wasteland that once was a city, with no one but a little cockroach to interact with. The first level is a tutorial explaining the different controls; you move with the control stick, jump with A or C (and damn, for a robot, WALL-E can jump pretty high!) and can move in "Box form" by keeping A or C  pressed and moving with the control stick, and shake the Wii remote to create cubes from nearby piles of trash – usually provided by machines that need to be re-powered up). You can aim on the screen with the Wii remote, and when you find a point of interest (like a BnL target, which are used to activate machines around a level), you can press B and then A to have WALL-E throw a cube of trash at it. WALL-E can hold up to three cubes at once, which is already better than the robot in the movie.

WALL-E, go for a three-point shot!
...I know nothing about basketball.
For controls, though, we’ll find much better in other games; WALL-E’s movement is quick and difficult to control, in part because of the crappy camera which tends to act on its own whenever WALL-E moves. If the camera suddenly moves around while WALL-E is going around, you might just deviate off the path you wanted to take. That’s… pretty bad, especially in a 3D game where the point is to roam the level, reach the end and solve puzzles. A good camera is a requirement for the latter. Oh, and of course, when WALL-E goes somewhere, he always slides off a little in the direction you sent him. Because a robot stopping when you tell it to stop was too hard to do, I guess?

We also learn a few of the special cubes WALL-E can make; the normal cubes are light and can be thrown far, but can’t activate everything. The heavier grey cubes cannot be thrown far, but activate switches that need them specifically. The blue cubes are chargers that can be used to power-up stations nearby, letting doors open. I kinda want to call bullcrap on that one, since I never heard of trash with bizarre electromagnetic powers. These cubes also explode when they’re left unattended for too long. Well, if I needed a reason to fear the future here it is. Just in case I wasn’t already terrified of the idea of Planet Earth polluted to the point that its entire population has to flee in giant spaceships. A final type of cube, seen much later, emits a powerful magnetic wave that pushes back all metal it encounters when it's thrown... but I must ask, WALL-E is most likely made of metal too. How can that cube not push him away as well?

Good luck figuring out it's the plant-in-boot he found.
Unlike in the film, he finds the plant already in the boot.
Make sense of that!
That’s when WALL-E finds the plant in the boot. He stores it inside himself, then goes over another puzzle-platforming section that takes him to a clearing. This is where he sees a spaceship descend, reveal a metallic egg, open it and leave again, leaving behind the robot that everyone recognizes as EVE. WALL-E wants to meet her but hits a rock; EVE blasts the rock with her laser gun arm, thankfully missing WALL-E, who starts feeling… uh… a mix of fear and love. You should know it’s not a girl for you if you feel those two things at the same time.

EVE is a pretty robot of mass destruction.
Starting now, we follow EVE. If you thought WALL-E was difficult to control, she’s worse. When she flies, she follows the cursor on the TV screen; you can press A while the remote is pointing, and EVE will move towards the point you selected – although EVE won’t stop moving as long as you press A, and keeps going for a moment when you release, so she may move past where you want her to go. Gee, just like WALL-E! Even with their defects they're meant for each other! She can blast things by pressing B. She can also recharge power sources; keep her floating near them and shake the Nunchuk up and down for that. Once that’s done, we get EVE’s next mission: Scanning objects for signs of plant life.

Once again, you need to look around the level to find the five objects. When that’s done, this level is complete, and we follow EVE into another level where she’s flying in the sewer system (I think?) and must blast away the obstacles blocking her way. Easier said than done, though, since EVE has 30 seconds to reach every checkpoint in the level, thus gaining another 30 seconds to get to the next. There are two levels like this, and all you really have to do is press A to make EVE go faster and B to blast the obstacles. When that level is over, we get a scene similar to when WALL-E approaches EVE near the ships in the desert. You know, that scene both romantic and funny? They make it soulless.

Robot-Teamwork Power! Sounds like the title of an anime.
For the next level, WALL-E and EVE form a team. EVE can lift WALL-E for a short period of time, allowing what’s basically a long jump. EVE can shoot incoming enemies while WALL-E uses garbage cubes to solve the puzzles. …Wait, enemies? Yep! For some reason, those shopping carts with eyes and boxes – I seriously don’t know how to call them – go to the two and ram into them, for no reason other than for fun. Or maybe those things are monsters. I don’t know, I don’t give a damn. All I know is that these enemies have some awfully accurate timing, and on platforms where you need the WALL-E/EVE high-jump to cross to the other side, those things love to ram into them and make them fall off. And the next piece of level? It has the two robots making their way across a giant chasm, with large platforms hanging in the air, others barely staying where they are, and they have to collect FIFTEEN key cards to unlock the door on the other side. Did I mention that falling off means restarting the entire part again? Well, now I said it. I’ll add just one word: Tabarnak!

Holy crap! What happened on Earth to create large chasms like this?

After that part, the robots need to go past a giant trash compactor, which means they need to defeat it by… tossing explosive barrels at its doors. Roboticide by robots, yay! What follows is a cutscene of WALL-E welcoming EVE in his modest place and showing her the plant – with the results we know. The white robot takes the plant and shuts off, and is then picked up by the spaceship when it returns. A mini-level takes place where WALL-E has 2 minutes 30 seconds to reach the ship, then we lift off… to the Axiom!

What's that? You want a beautiful spatial scenery, a scene of he trip to the Axiom? Tough!

To Infinity and boredom!

Oh yeah, I'm so getting in the way.
Let the hilarity begin!
When the spaceship enters the Axiom, the EVE probe is brought away. WALL-E falls off the spaceship – I mean, he’s been hanging on to it for the past few lightyears – and goes to look for EVE, which leads him to solve a few more puzzles and meet M-O... who in this game is a goddamned little bugger who keep pushing WALL-E away. WALL-E eventually finds his way out of the docks, and then has to cross a hallway where dozens of those humans on floating chairs are passing. WALL-E should be careful not to get hit... And yet, the most fun I’ve had in this game so far was to make WALL-E ram into one of those floating chairs, causing its user to be violently thrown out of it. It’s hilarious to see that. Shame, though, that unlike in the film, the chair’s passenger isn’t put back on it by a robot, and instead gets somehow magically lifted up and back on their chair. Past that part, say hello to M-O again, in another puzzle room where this little bugger will keep on pushing WALL-E away from his objective! And of course, this is where you need to be able to aim to kill enemy robots, or stand in one place to power up stations. So M-O is even more annoying. Go to Hell, M-O! Your mother was a vibrator! And your dad was a toaster!

M-O, I asked nicely, I asked politely, I asked multiple times. Now...
If you don't leave me the fuck alone, I'll kick your puny robot ass into space!

That's of course the moment when a human of the
future decides to push you onto the red floor.
Oh, did I mention that, for some reason, the floor of the ship is sometimes the normal metallic grey one, and sometimes the red one, that instantly burns WALL-E and “kills” him? Because obviously a red-hot danger floor is the norm on a giant ark-like space cruiser! You’ll tell me, “Oh, it only disables robots”, to which I reply: Why would the Axiom need this since every single aspect of the daily lives of humans on the ship depend on robots, in everything from from services to freaking locomotion? In fact, now that I think of it, the floating chairs are unaffected by it, not that it explains much.

WALL-E catches up with the train taking EVE away and embarks. They find themselves in the captain’s room, where AUTO explains that the EVE has found plant life on Earth; but as was the case on the movie, when EVE opens her body, the plant is gone. And thus the Captain deems this EVE as defective and sends her off to the robot repair center, along with WALL-E who could use some cleaning-

WHOA! Hold it right there! Holy crap, what the Hell is wrong with these graphics??? This is the ugliest cutscene I have ever seen! The robots look okay, I mean, they’re nearly as pretty as the ones in the movie, but the Captain? Here, you can truly witness the low quality of the graphics. Wow, I think he looks even worse than the random passersby WALL-E has to avoid in the halls of the Axiom. Hell, I think I’ve seen PlayStation 1 graphics that looked freaking better! I mean, compare what he looks like in the movie…

…To what he looks like in this cutscene.

I mean, he's not "Baby-from-Tinker-Toy" kind of bad, but still...

Destructoid Raygun Compactor! Another title that
sounds like the name of an anime...
But enough about the *shudder* visions of horror of Captain McCrea’s, uh, everything, and let’s move on. EVE and WALL-E are brought to the repair center, which doesn’t feature other defective robots (unlike in the movie where there was a whole crowd of them). Once again, WALL-E sees EVE being checked for defects and panics, thinking she’s being tortured; he gets a hold of her arm… but this time, he escapes with it outside of the repair center. He tasks himself with saving EVE, which is easier said than done considering the loads of security robots around the place, seeing WALL-E as a menace… thankfully, he has EVE’s laser cannon arm with him, so he can use it to defend himself… even if that means destroying dozens of guardian robots!

More like hundreds, really.

One really has to wonder why exactly the Axiom would
have so many turrets inside itself, in the same room.
To find his way back in the repair center, WALL-E rolls, jumps and blasts his way through a few platforming rooms, which all feature multiple copies of the guardian robots (also known as steward-bots or SECUR-T, depending on which one you want to use). Expect to spend more time blasting SECUR-T than moving forward. Also expect that you’ll need a lot of healing. This level ends in the circular room, where WALL-E has to use magnetic blocks to destroy the doors that bring even more SECUR-T his way; after which the center of the room will rise, and WALL-E has to destroy turrets located on it; which is difficult because, guess what? More SECUR-T! I wasn’t joking when I said hundreds of those will be there to wait. Still, after a long battle, the turrets are defeated, the place returns to normal (and all the SECUR-T conveniently vanish), and WALL-E has access to a fully repaired EVE who reclaims her arm (and is pissed to see what he's done with it). Except now, WALL-E is widely seen as a face of terror on this ship, a famed figure of destruction.

"Believe it or not, I'm floating in space,
I never thought I could feel so great..."
Following these events, the two robots find the GO-4 who stole the plant from them, placing it in an escape pod where WALL-E hides to retrieve it. It’s blasted into space and blown up, in front of EVE’s blue LED eyes. WALL-E survives and finds a way to float around in space using a fire extinguisher, and thus begins the next level – a series of mini-games. First EVE follows WALL-E around and has to go through 10 hoops created behind the trash compactor robot. Then, she has to blast 50 cubes of trash sent into space by the Axiom. Why? Because. That’s it. Last but not least, she has to chase after WALL-E and make sure she doesn’t stay too far from him, so she can rescue him and bring the two of them safely back on the ship. These mini-games are surprisingly fun, and controlling EVE here is better than it was in the levels set on Earth, if only because EVE is free to move as she pleases and the only obstacles are asteroids or the Axiom itself. However, in the final mini-game, you can hear WALL-E yell “EV-AAAAAAAAA!!!” as he’s floating around with the fire extinguisher, and if you thought that was cute in the movie, you should be happy, as he’ll say it enough times in the span of 90 seconds for it to stop being the least bit tolerable to your ears.

But the level is not over! EVE makes her way through the unseen parts of the ship (maintenance, giant tubes, zones in construction, and whatever else where only robots are found). The start of the level feels just like EVE going through the same damn part at least four times in a row. Then, as EVE keeps going, we get better and better visuals – I mean, I can bash this game’s graphics all I want, especially the cutscenes, but those free flight levels with EVE are pretty long and contain many sections, most of which feel very different; so while I am not a fan of the controls in those sections, they’re still rather impressive.

The GO-4 are watching.
Also, look out for those giant bars.
We get to the boss, a column in the center of a room, with three large bars spinning around it – well, EVE has to make them spin around by activating them, which requires destroying more SECUR-T, powering up energy centers, and avoiding the blasts from the two dozen wall turrets around the room. When a spinning bar is activated, EVE must chase after it and destroy the balls of energy inside, and repeat for the other two. Not as simple as it sounds… eventually this column is defeated and we reach the end of the level… where EVE arrives victoriously in the Captain’s quarters with the plant, but those who know the story know that this is where AUTO’s mutiny happens. AUTO and GO-4 toss EVE and the plant in the trash chute. Meanwhile, WALL-E is on another floor when he hears her falling. He looks in the trash chute and gets pushed in it, courtesy of M-O! give me a wrench and a screwdriver, I’m gonna disassemble this little bugger piece by freaking piece, keep him turned to On the entire time, and bring to his vision captors every single piece I take off of him!!! Yet, M-O falls along with them…

Whoa! Is the review this long already? I guess we’ll need to continue this in Part 2!