Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked|
Of all the gaming genres out there, few would argue that the dancing genre has benefitted most from the Xbox 360’s motion controlled Kinect system. Thanks to the Kinect camera’s high-tech wizardry, the genre that was first made popular by Konami’s definitive Dance Dance Revolution has all but been revived from the dead by popular new franchises like Harmonix’s Dance Central and Ubisoft’s Let’s Dance. Wii and PS3 gamers are also getting in on the game, but it really took Microsoft’s camera with its remarkable motion recognition technology to put the dancing genre back at the top of the charts.
It comes as no surprise then that the folks behind the newest Alvin and the Chipmunks film would take a stab at the dancing genre for their obligatory movie-game tie in with Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. With the help of the folks at Majesco and Behaviour Interactive – Chipwrecked attempts to blend the sweet and sassy charm of the world’s favorite musical rodents with the energetic enjoyment of the Dance Central. Sadly, the game falls short of both goals – offering an overly simplified dancing experience obviously geared towards the younger gamers, yet wrapping it around an unexpectedly obscure and dated soundtrack sure to appeal only to older gamers. This odd juxtaposition of ideals results in a game with little or no appeal to either age group, and one that somehow manages to miss the highly sought-after “family” designation.
If you do not believe me, take a gander at a representative sampling of the soundtrack: California Dreamin’, Shake Your Groove Thing, Crocodile Rock, I Fought The Law, Video Killed the Radio Star, Karma Chameleon, and You Really Got Me – and that’s just a fraction of the pre-1990 fare. And the few new-sounding songs aren’t all that new themselves – people might mistake Life is a Highway as a Rascal Flatts’ song from 2006, when in reality it goes all the way back to 1991 when it was a hit for Canadian rocker Tom Cochrane. Don’t get me wrong, most of these songs might have been considered fun party hits in their day, but when the newest titles are Smash Mouth’s 1999 hits “Walking on the Sun” and “All Star” the soundtrack is for the most part completely irrelevant for anyone under 35 years old.
If the kids are willing and able to acclimate to the old school soundtrack, the will find a gaming experience exclusively tailored for their difficulty level. Featuring a rather forgiving motion detection system, Chipwrecked plays like a beginner’s mode version of Dance Central – allowing players a generous amount of artistic freedom before dishing out demerits for missed moves. And missing moves is difficult considering most of the action consists of little more than simple arm waves, body sways, and kicks in time with the music. This is great for the kids, but quickly proves a bit too easy for gamers who are well versed in the dancing genre. While Chipwrecked’s move set might not be as complex as Dance Central, the Kinect implementation seems quite similar – at least with respect to the single player mode. The same cannot be said for the multiplayer, but I will discuss that later.
As for the story – while I cannot admit to seeing the film, I can safely say that the game only brushes the surface of the movie’s events, simply because that is all that can be accomplished with the use of still-motion cutscenes. Other than that, the game simply trudges through song after song, allowing gamers to dance as their favorite Chipmunk, or even Chipette – all of which can be customized with various articles of clothing, head gear and eyewear that is purchased using the monetary “stars” earned during the single player game.
Aside from the single-player mode, the game offers a slim co-op mode for up to two players. Forgetting that while there are three Chipmunks, yet the game only allows two players, the fact that the co-op mode is turn-based is a travesty considering that most every other Kinect game on the market seems capable of successfully managing multiple gamers onscreen simultaneously.
On the presentation front, Alvin and the Chimpunks: Chipwrecked gets the job done but is certainly nothing to write home about. As mentioned earlier, all of the film-based cutscenes are delivered via static photo montages, and any in-game graphics simply feature the three pudgy chipmunks bobbing and swaying on their dancing platforms overlaid upon various tropical-themed background. The game lacks the overall visual flair of its predecessors like Let’s Dance and Dance Central, but does have a handful of “Go Nuts!” cutaway sequences smattered here and there as the gamer wows the adoring crowd and fills their “Munk Meter”.
The songs – old as they are – are all sung by the furry film stars. While this can be grating on the nerves of some gamers, there is a certain amount of novelty and nostalgia to be found from their high-pitched variations of these “classics”. The music is all mixed well enough, although it can be a bit hard to hear in amongst all of the crowd noise.
While Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is definitely a functional game, it is really difficult to recommend among the constant flow of top-shelf (and often bargain priced) dancing titles coming out for the Kinect.