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February 29, 2016

WALL-E (Wii) (Part 2)

Last Friday, I started a review of a WALL-E game. I already feared for the worst; yet, I have to play through all of it. I did most of the work already, with 6 levels out of 9 completed – oh yeah, there's only 9 levels in this game adaptation of the film. Not a lot, huh? Sure, they make up for it by being rather long, but still, 9 is a pretty small number of levels. When we left off, WALL-E and EVE had found their way back on the ship after having been sent into space, and EVE brought the plant back to the Captain, only for AUTO to rebel and toss both EVE and the plant in the garbage chute. WALL-E and M-O soon follow…

Wow, this place is bigger than my apartment.
The one I'll have in the future.
...The one I'll probably have, I hope.
WALL-E knows he has to retrieve EVE and the plant, so he makes his way through this gigantic room that houses all the trash of the Axiom. As if there wasn't enough trash in here, there's also regions of dangerous liquid that kill our heroic robot upon contact. And of course, M-O follows the directives of being as unhelpful as possible, so he keeps chasing WALL-E, pushing him off platforms… into the dangerous liquid... It’s a long level, but WALL-E eventually finds EVE and the plant; then we see a mimic of the scene from the movie where M-O blocks the doors of the garbage room, preventing WALL-E and EVE from being sent into space, after which we see again the scene where Captain McCrea manages to contact the heroes behind AUTO’s back and tells them to bring the plant to the Holodeck. And he says that with the lowest resolution possible-Oh wait, I’m mistaken, it’s not the video that has low resolution, it’s the ugly, ugly CGI. McCrea still looks like some kind of unholy humanoid abomination.

Thus begins the eighth level of this game, where WALL-E has to bring the plant to the Holodeck, something that would be simpler if there weren’t large areas of red (dangerous) floors, a lot of SECUR-T, and many, many annoyances… such as, oh, I dunno, McCrea in the middle of his fight with AUTO, yelling every few seconds one of a few lines: “Get… that… plant… into… the Holo-decker!”, “The doors are open!”, “We need to keep that thing open!” and “Stupid wheel!”. All which would be fine if you heard them not too often, but when ALL YOU HEAR IS THESE FUCKING WORDS REPEATED AD NAUSEAM, over a sea of noise, damn do they become annoying. SHUT THE FUCK UP, MCCREA! Seriously, witness this by yourself...

Not pictured: Dignity. For everyone involved.
It died levels ago stepping on a red floor.
Eventually, we complete that part of the level and are welcomed by the many defective robots found on the Axiom (the ones that help WALL-E and EVE in the film, even though in the game they were nowhere to be seen in the repair center), and McCrea keeps fighting AUTO, only for the wheel to incline the ship, making WALL-E’s race to the Holodeck much more complicated. I mean, first there’s those stupid sectors of red on the ground, which are a damn big problem. Second, there are hundreds and hundreds of humans who fell off their chairs and are falling or tumbling down towards him. Well, either they’re tumbling or they’re trying to reinvent the bacon dance, really. Good thing the microgravity and lack of bones made them so bouncy or some of them might actually be getting hurt! WALL-E eventually reaches the Holodeck and stops its return into the floor, and EVE is able to place the plant inside it – but WALL-E gets badly damaged in the process. Captain McCrea regains control of his ship and proceeds to send it into hyperdrive, back to Earth.

Scannin' stuff. Just normal activity in the daily life of an
Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. They're also
conveniently really good at rebuilding broken robots.
When the ship lands, the passengers, who needed to relearn how to walk after a few centuries spent on floating chairs, finally step out. EVE hurries out with WALL-E and starts looking for spare parts. This last level takes place in the setting of the first ones, and EVE has to look around this large place for five WALL-E scattered around the deserted world to pick up pieces. The sleek white robot finds the pieces and brings them back to WALL-E, inside his modest “house”, where she repairs him with the results we know; WALL-E appears to lose all the personality he gained those past years. Thankfully, she manages to bring him back with an electric kiss. WALL-E recognizes EVE, she hugs him, all’s well that ends well, but I had almost no emotion.

That’s the end, and Thank God it’s over. What a piece of-

Huh? It’s not over? Damn, I thought it was! What do you mean, there’s plenty of collectibles? Oh. I see. This game has a large Extras section that includes many collectibles, mostly videos and images. The videos are the cutscenes from the game, useful if you press the Home button in hopes of pausing to write about said cutscenes (since this actually causes the cutscene to be skipped instead). The images are mostly concept art from the movie and game, which gives you an excellent opportunity to see how way better the movie is when compared to the game. The Bonus Section also has a list of all collectibles in the game, including:
-BnL suitcases that upgrade the appearance of WALL-E and EVE;
-Radios that unlock additional sound FX (yet no Sound Test in sight);
WALL-E, meet Wallops.
-Wallops: Levels 1 to 8 contain 30 Wallops each, scattered around the level, often out of sight or in hard-to-reach places. Thankfully WALL-E has infinite lives, so you can kill him as often as you want on this quest, with no repercussions whatsoever. Apparently, getting Wallops unlocks new multiplayer content, like alternate costumes. This game does inspire me to wallop something, possibly the WALL-E Funko Pop figurine that made me review this game...;
-Two sketchbooks, one in Level 1, another in Level 4, and WALL-E has to collect 10 in a level to unlock the corresponding sketchbook;
-Finally, Souvenirs. There’s one hidden in each level, and they refer to the WALL-E movie or other Pixar items like Luxo’s ball or Toy Story characters.

The Bonus Section also contains a Cheat Codes section, in which you can unlock special abilities and other talents to use in the game’s 9 levels. They range from an eternal upgrade to EVE’s ray gun to getting all multiplayer costumes to unlocking all levels. However, using a cheat code cancels the automatic saving file, so you can’t cheat your way through the game. Well, you can, but it won’t be saved. Tough luck.

WALL-E Robot Tag. Meh.
But that’s not all! In the very unlikely chance that you choose this game to play with your friends, there is a rather interesting Multiplayer mode that consists of mini-games that can be played among 2 to 4 players.
-WALL-E Robot Tag: The WALL-E have a fight in a small room, and the entire point is to deplete the HP of the other WALL-E in the room, either by shooting them with EVE’s laser or throwing blue blocks at them.
-Extreme Collecting: To win this game, your WALL-E must be the first to collect 20 Wallops on a three-sided platform. You can spin the platform at any moment using pressure pads, and the hard part is to avoid falling in the great emptiness below. Look out for the slippery parts, too.
Extreme collecting? Huh, you really gotta be dedicated
to your hobby.
-EVE Laser Training: 2 to 4 EVEs follow a path and must destroy as many boxes and targets as possible. The level is set on WALL-E’s world, and it’s basically a rail shooter. Who’ll be the quickest draw? Who’ll destroy the most objects?
-EVE Aerial Arena: The EVEs find themselves in space near the Axiom, with 20 giant rings floating in space. In this mini-game, the EVEs must go through as many rings as possible. At the end of the allotted time (between 1 and 5 minutes) whichever EVE has passed through the most rings wins.
-Co-Op Stop The Clocks: Two players help each other to destroy as many targets as possible; they’re both on a side of the room and cannot cross, thus they’re forced to cooperate. The match stops when the timer reaches 0 (but it refills when either robot destroys a target).
-Robot Tag Simulator: Like the other mini-game, except not in a bird’s view. The WALL-E shoot at each other with EVE’s ray gun, and whoever depletes the life bar of other WALL-E five times wins. If you look around, you can find a magical mallet that will be equipped to your WALL-E and give him a powerful weapon that will smash another WALL-E down to 0 HP in one hit, given of course that you manage to aim well.

I guess that’s all. If there are other multiplayer modes, I haven’t unlocked them.

All characters can also choose an alternate texture for their WALL-E or EVE; those are unlocked as you collect Wallops. You can have EVE disguise as an ice cream cone (really!), a mummy, or cover her in red hearts or in Christmas lights. WALL-E has a geek form (with giant glasses), two versions that make him look like a six-sided die, a British gentleman (complete with tie and derby hat), a disco enthusiast (extravagant afro included), or you can give him the colors of the American flag, make him all orange like a pumpkin or give him a design that makes him look like a wrapped gift. Well, this game gets at least one point for this hilarious collection of costumes.

Disco M-O not included.

And it’s one of the few points this game gets! It’s… pretty bad. Yeah, I had a hunch it would be. I ended up getting a bit more invested than I thought, but it’s still subpar for a Wii game. The story itself is nothing new, it’s the plot of the movie with only the game-relevant scenes kept, and it seems as though they took great care to remove most of the emotions. It just goes to show how important the subtlety in movements is for the CGI characters in Piar’s films. And it’s even more noticeable in this story featuring robots who talk mostly through body language and a limited vocabulary. Of course, I can’t discuss the cutscenes without discussing the quality of its… um, animation some more. The renders look absolutely horrible. I wasn’t kidding when I said this looked like it was straight out of a PlayStation 1. However, the only character on which this is truly noticeable is Captain McCrea.

However, I doubt this is what you’ve come here for. How is the gameplay? Well… I tend to enjoy puzzle platformers most of the time, but it’s not the simplest thing to set up. The platforming must not be so difficult that the puzzle becomes too hard to solve, and the puzzles must not be so hard that the character wanders around the level aimlessly, looking for the solution. There’s a fine line there and this game fails at keeping balance. Oh, it’s fine for the first few levels, but eventually puzzle and platformer clash, and the obstacles of one become a problem for the other. Best (worst) example: You need to create explosive blocks to power up stations and destroy faraway robots; that’s the puzzle part. Then M-O shows up and pushes WALL-E around endlessly, which might force you to discard the blocks (to distract M-O) and make more. If you have time, because M-O will quickly be back with a vengeance. Some levels are more puzzle-oriented, others are more platforming-oriented. Of course, the Axiom had to have the destructive red floors, because there is no good platformer without endless pits or instant-kill floors. No matter how nonsensical they may be in the setting.

If the characters could be controlled a little better, that would help. WALL-E will often slide past where you want him to go. I noticed this tends to change between levels; sometimes he’ll skid past his destination, other times he’ll stop where you want him to stop. For no discernible reason. When EVE flies, she’s a little simpler to control, but she also keeps floating a little after you let go of the A button, which is a problem since, you know, hitting floors harms EVE. And she’ll hit the floors a lot.

However, I have to admit that there are good ideas here: WALL-E alone, WALL-E equipped with EVE’s arm, EVE alone, the WALL-E/EVE team are four different ways the levels in this game go, and it’s actually pretty fun to see all four combinations as you progress. The puzzle sections are interesting as well, what with cubes of different weights and functions that WALL-E can create and other cases of puzzles mixed with platforming. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. Even if the game is shoddily put together and has many problems, there are some interesting ideas that could have been used much better.

True completionists will get to replay levels in order to find all 240 Wallops (the 9th level doesn’t have them) as well as every collectible item. This can take a moment to do, since some objects are well-hidden. Those who seek out the multiplayer mode will find something rather enjoyable, not perfect but definitely okay for a bit of time with friends. Not every Multiplayer mini-game is good, but the ones that are good are very good.

Many levels – or parts of levels – are actually pretty large and contain a lot of elements to look at (EVE’s speed flight sections are one such example). The music is meh, though you don’t miss much; I’d complain more about the unnecessary voice clips you hear in some levels, clips that repeat endlessly because they didn’t bother to record more than four lines.

This goes a step beyond being a blatant cash-grab, but not by much. It’s not so awful that it can be immediately called shovelware, although it IS close to deserving the title. Did I have fun? A little. It wasn’t an enraging experience like others I’ve had in the past few years. But I can’t quite call this a good game either; its problems are too blatant, its controls are bad, and it even reduces cute comic relief M-O to a major annoyance that you want to throw on those damned red floors (can you tell M-O is one of my favorite WALL-E characters?). It’s okay if you’re a diehard WALL-E fan, but don’t expect much replayability outside of getting all the collectibles. Hell, if you’re a diehard WALL-E fan… just go watch the movie again. You’ll enjoy it more. Everyone else should just avoid this game. Or check it out only if they’re curious.

(Last video: Of me telling the WALL-E figurine that his game sucked)

Well, I’m done reviewing this one. What should I review next… oh, I see. I’ve been playing this game for a while now… maybe it’s time to review it. But… can I review a game that I am incapable of completing? …we’ll see… Tune in this Friday. WALL-E and EVE are not the last robots we’ll be seeing this week!