Three great Sony franchises featuring six of Sony’s most well-known characters. Jak, Ratchet, Sly, and their three respective side-kicks. When initially announced, I admit I was left feeling a little giddy with excitement. The idea of throwing these beloved platforming mascots together for all sorts of mayhem and the ensuing hijinks they would cause must surely be a recipe for sure-fire success. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, only everything. Read my full review of Sony’s Playstation Move Heroes (or as I call it, Ruined Potential), after the jump.
A Wormhole To Disappointment
With only Ratchet and Clank having made their debut on current-gen consoles, I was pretty excited to finally be able to play as Jak and Sly Cooper in glorious high definition, even if it was only in another brazen attempt from Sony to showcase their Move controller. These characters have been sorely absent from Sony’s PS3 line-up (barring a remastered release of the three PS2 Sly Cooper games), and I was looking forward to a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Instead, I ended up with an experience that only managed to tarnish the legacy of some of my favourite platformers out there.
After a hefty 6.5 GB install you’re immediately “rewarded” with a cut-scene setting up the paper-thin premise. Calling the set-up flimsy is perhaps an understatement. The heroes are all on their respective planets when they’re suddenly sucked through a wormhole by a group of aliens, who ask them to partake in a tournament of sorts, to which our heroes inexplicably simply agree.
You’ll also need to free a bunch of “Whibbles” along the way, and this is essentially the aim of every mini-game you’re required to play.
The mini-games themselves actually start off pretty well. The Move controls are solid, (you’ll require a Move controller and either a Dualshock 3 or the navigation controller) and some games are immediately reminiscent of Sony’s Move launch title, Sports Champions. Bowling and something similar to disc golf are given their own respective twists, and overall the controls are responsive and accurate. Most of the few remaining mini-games however involve slashing and shooting up enemies, and while this is — initially at least — mildly entertaining, boredom promptly rears its ugly head once you realize the same handful of mini-games are simply on repeat. Sure, the environments change, the waves of enemies grow slightly larger with each variation, but in essence you’ll have seen it all after your first sixty minutes of playtime. Not exactly what you’d call a compelling experience, and even more disappointing considering the franchises you’re playing with. Co-op relegates the second player to side-kick duty, and while it may mix things up a bit, the novelty wears off quickly, and again repetition is the bane of the game.
One saving grace is the variety of weapons, specifically Ratchet’s arsenal, and even fan-favourites like the Groovitron make an appearance. These power-ups change according to the character you’re currently using, and each world is also designed after each character’s homeworld. Unfortunately, progression is extremely linear, and you’ll need to finish every single challenge on a planet before being allowed to move on to the next. And as if you needed any more niggles to add to your already mounting frustration, say hello to a very wonky camera that often struggles with the viewpoint if your character’s in a corner of a level. Online leaderboards are present for the obsessive high-score chasers out there — a challenge I’m sure only the most dedicated of masochists will attempt.
But perhaps the most glaring omission is that you’re stuck with a game featuring six of Sony’s platforming icons, with no platforming in sight. Stick any other new or faceless characters in these roles and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. In fact, I would have preferred it this way because as it stands it’s only a sad reminder of what could have been. It definitely feels like a wasted opportunity and it’s disappointing to see these characters relegated to “shovelware cash-in” status.
Soon In A Bargain Bin Near you!
Graphically the game looks decent enough, although the arenas tend to be mostly generic by design. It’s not pushing the PS3 hardware by any means (which prompts the question: why the whopping 6.5 GB of install data?), but it’s pleasantly bright and colorful, and my three-year old son seemed to get a kick out of the many explosions, whizzing obstacles, and irreverent (read: cringe-worthy) cut-scenes.
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh towards the game since it’s clearly designed with toddlers and budding pre-teens in mind, but as a party-game, as a collective mini-game compilation, it’s certainly no Mario Party. There’s no cohesive glue holding everything together, and this mishmash of mini-games is ultimately nothing less than a very brief diversion. Perhaps it would have been slightly better with completely new characters and an original storyline, rather than shoehorning existing characters for the experience; at least then one would have no preconceived ideas of what to expect, but as it stands and as a party-game, it’s an entirely forgettable, below-average affair.