There’s much talk these days about the computer game industry dwarfing the movie industry. The latest Call Of Duty, we’re told, generates the kind of revenue that most movie producers can only dream of. Yet while there has been a dramatic shift in monetary power from the big screen to the monitor screen, when it comes to computer games based on movies, it’s still very much the cinematic dog that’s wagging the computerized tale.
The big screen version of Disney-Pixar’s Up was an absolute delight, a film that managed to effortlessly flit from moments of beautifully crafted sadness, to crazy knockabout madness. In making its transition to the Nintendo Wii, Up highlights, yet again, that when it comes to emotional content, computer games are a long way behind the movies.
What this means then – somewhat predictably – is that, while the knockabout stuff survives the change of medium, the film’s beating heart does not. Although what we’re faced with here is perhaps a fundamental limitation of videogames, it’s to the title’s discredit that it makes little or no attempt to capture any of the back story of the central character, Carl. Instead the game misses out the first third of the film entirely, preferring to start us off in the middle of a frantic air battle.
This opening salvo is frenetic, disorientating and also really quite difficult. It’s like that old Pilotwings game on the SNES, but with everything moving at around five times the speed. It’s all a little brash as an opener, and there is definitely some relief when you finally make your way past this battle in the skies through to the game proper.
Here we get a chance to experience at least something of the charm of the movie. Ed Asner’s vocal contributions are particularly welcome and the interplay between Carl and Russell is well portrayed. However. for those who have never seen the movie before, there is very little in the game to explain why this rather odd couple are wandering around a fantastical mountain range, attached via ropes to a floating house.
On a more positive note, the physics of Carl and Russell’s world feels more solid and consistent than we’ve come to expect in the more cynical movie tie-ins, and at least you won’t find yourself resorting to totally random joypad bashing to try and make some progress through the game.
The obstacles that you have to surmount are decent enough, too, albeit quite atypical of a 3D platformer. However, you’re never really slowed down for long, as solutions are pretty much telegraphed by the game’s on-screen prompts. The way you switch control between Carl and Russell works pretty well, too. Again, it’s not anything particularly innovative, but it all works.
And in a way, that sort of sums Up up. It all works, but unlike its big screen counterpart, there is nothing about Up the computer game that is going to dazzle or take your breath away. However, if you are on the lookout for a competent platformer, then you could definitely do worse.
UP for Nintendo Wii is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.