Reviewed: December 9, 2005
Released: November 25, 2005
In 2004 Brad Bird and Pixar brought us "The Incredibles" another notch in Pixar's illustrious film belt and a surefire moneymaker with numerous film tie-ins. One of which was a game based on the movie.
Following that game, as well as the movie, is The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer. In this third-person action platformer you play the dual roles of Mr. Incredible and Frozone as they strive to thwart the diabolical machinations of the evil Underminer.
In your quest to defeat the Underminer, you can alternatively control Mr. Incredible or Frozone. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Incredible is a powerhouse with super strong punches and attacks that can clear a wide area. Frozone can control ice and freeze foes in their tracks. Each of them have a mega attack that can destroy an entire screen worth of foes.
Both characters are on screen at the same time with the game (or another player) controlling the other character. As usual, the game AI is sadly deficient in guiding the other player. It isn't completely useless, but most of the time you'll need to switch back and fourth when you want the characters to work in tandem.
Your partner can also be given commands, commands that are routinely ignored by the game AI. Hold, follow, and aggressive are the selections, but the game will never obey them for any length of time. Usually this isn't a major problem, but it becomes frustrating during a few of the bonus missions.
Most of your time is spent fighting against the mechanized minions of the Underminer. Certain sections have you doing other things, most notably trying to escape or help protect scientists.
As you destroy foes and beat stages, you accumulate points, which can then be used to upgrade either Mr. Incredible or Frozone in several categories. As the characters get more powerful, the game comes progressively easier with deaths becoming less and less frequent.
When death does come, that character will have to recharge for around 20 seconds and as long as the other character remains alive there is no other penalty. This is great for children, who the game is aimed at no doubt, but less then challenging for the average player. Different difficulty levels help alleviate this problem.
Each stage also has conditions that must be met, it adds another slight challenge to try and pass them for each. There are also bonus capsules that hide production art bonuses throughout the levels.
The controls are very responsive and intuitive. The camera is controlled by the game and sometimes doesn't focus on what you need it to, forcing you to run around to get a good perspective on the action.
The game takes place in a few different locales. The city is wonderfully modeled and very interactive and hectic. The later underground stages do tend to blend together although each is different.
The enemies you face are fairly bland and you only end up facing about five different ones throughout the course of the game. When destroyed, each has a satisfying explosion and the freeze effects on the robots are nicely done as well.
The main characters themselves are extremely well modeled and look pretty close to the films. Mouth movement is done when characters speak, but no serious attempt is made at accurate mouth movement.
Frozone's ice effects are wonderful. You can only freeze solid certain objects but you can create an ice sheen on pretty much everything. His air ice glide and ice bridges are also well done and very beautiful graphical pieces.
A very rewarding experience, each stage has it's own soundtrack nuances, even borrowing part of the film's score for the final showdown with the Underminer. The music itself helps set the mood and the sound effects for the enemies and environment only enhance the ambiance.
The voice work from the cast is a little more uneven. The Underminer sounds 100% spot on (to the point I needed to consult the book to see if it was indeed John Ratzenberger, and it is) Mr. Incredible sounds all right, even if you can tell it's not Craig T. Nelson. Frozone on the other hand is wildly erratic, sometimes he sounds decent, while others times it sounds nothing like him at all.
Though the voices might be slightly shaky, the dialogue is largely brilliant. The two have real interplay between themselves and it's easy to get lost in the moment while they banter. Frozone's dialogue, when not speaking with Mr. Incredible, sounds like rejected Mr. Freeze lines from Batman and Robin, but that's the only real black spot on the otherwise respectable voice work.
The game has around eleven stages proper, with nine short bonus ones. Stages also have capsules you can collect to unlock production art. There are also little point and survival challenges for each stage. While they don't unlock anything extra when completed, it's still another little diversion for you to fulfill.
The game also has a two-player mode with each player using a single character. This eliminates the uneven ally AI and really does enhance enjoyment of the game. The fact the game retails for a mere $40 is another point in its favor. Besides the aforementioned production art, a couple trailers for past (and future) Pixar films are included.
As a children's game The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer succeeds spectacularly. It's a perfect game to plop down your child in front of without having to worry about content or frustration. Adjusting the difficulty makes it somewhat more capable of challenging an experienced player, but for the age range it's aimed at, it scores a direct hit.
If you're a fan of the film, I'd advise a rental, while the game story is nowhere near the level of writing present in the film, it's interesting to see what happens after the film ends. If you're looking for an action platformer and don't mind a little AI baby-sitting, I'd also advise a rental. If you have a huge Incredibles fan in the house, they're not too old, and they need a game to play, then a purchase would be advisable.