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For: Mobile   Also on: DS, PSP

Pixar perfect or recycled rubbish?

Product: WALL-E | Developer: Universomo | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Adventure, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 188KB | Version: Europe
WALL-E Mobile, thumbnail 1
Pixar, the animation studio behind Toy Story and Ratatouille, has just released its next money eating juggernaut into the cinemas. By the time you read this, WALL-E will have delighted millions of pop-corn munching kids around the world and guzzled the hard earned pennies of countless put-upon parents.

As part of the enormous merchandising push, Universomo has been tasked with creating a mobile phone game tie-in to capitalise on the inevitable WALL-E fever. With its imaginative future setting and charismatic robot lead, the developer appears to have all the ingredients for a decent game on its hands.

WALL-E (the game) sees you guiding the titular Johnny 5 look-alike around a series of levels, searching for random items of rubbish. Collect enough of any one kind and you'll unlock a new ability, such as the ability to jump higher or a new kind of block to aid your quest.

The basic action takes the form of a pretty standard 2D platformer, with '6' and '4' controlling movement and '2' causing WALL-E to jump (which is quite a feat for a box on wheels). Pressing '5' near an item, such as a block, allows you to pick it up. Another press will throw it in the direction you're facing.

But what's all this talk of 'blocks' about, exactly? They're vital to solving many of the puzzles, which can involve negotiating gaps or reaching seemingly inaccessible areas. You may need to stack a bunch of blocks to form a makeshift staircase in order to climb onto a higher level, or perhaps throw a weighted block onto a switch to open a door. It's neither particularly original nor challenging, but it does very gently tax the old grey matter in a hypnotically pleasing manner.

Universomo has brought WALL-E's refuse collecting abilities into play by scattering piles of junk around the levels, which can be collected and formed into further blocks. It's a rather unnecessary feature, but we guess it ties in with the premise of the film and will thus keep young fans happy.

Graphically, WALL-E is a typically polished effort. Because the gameplay is based on simple, slow paced puzzles as opposed to reaction-testing acrobatics or combat, Universomo has been able to zoom the view right in on our mechanical hero. While this can feel a little stifling at times, it does mean that WALL-E is rendered in plenty of detail.

The levels themselves can tend to feel a little samey, featuring a fairly standard detritus-strewn future landscape throughout. The backgrounds change, but the foreground detail and the objects you interact with stay pretty much the same. Again, though, you could say that it's thematically consistent.

Which is the perfect way to sum WALL-E up. It's consistent. Consistently nice looking, consistently designed, consistently fun. Even the difficulty level is fairly consistent, rarely straying above easy. But for some slightly iffy menu interfaces and one or two occasions where we couldn't retrieve a situation, forcing a restart, it's all of a consistently decent standard.

One thing older players may find it consistently lacks is spark. You'll have played plenty of games like this, many of which will have felt considerably fresher. But for younger kids on a month-long buzz of hype and enthusiasm for all things WALL-E, this represents several hours of guaranteed fun.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 30 June 2008
A well made, gently paced film tie-in for kids which requires more lateral thinking than thumb dexterity
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