Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
N Amer - 06/26/2007
The secret is finally out – the world now knows that, contrary to a horrifying incident at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a rat is not the scariest thing you could find in a kitchen. In fact, when it’s a rat from the studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, the Mickey Mouse effect starts to weigh in. From the moment Remy jumps through the window with a cookbook resting on his shoulders to the conclusion that has audiences cheering, Ratatouille is another Pixar masterpiece.
The game, brought to you by Heavy Iron Studios, is easily the best action/adventure based on a Pixar movie since Toy Story 2. It’s a collecting game, a sneaky game, an adventure game, and a roll-down-the-tunnel game. Ratatouille doesn’t go in the direction of other licensed products and makes no effort to try something new that can’t be perfected. It simply says, “We know what’s good, we know what gamers like, and we’re going to be that game.”
Always On The Move
Ratatouille has picked up more than a few of our industry’s greatest tricks, and not just from the action/adventure genre. The base of the game is set in one large, interlocking world that keeps you coming back to the same place. But as players leap between stages, they will be faced with different gameplay types. Early on Remy uses a cookbook and kitchen utensil as a boat and paddle. Next he’ll be climb on walls, crawl through narrow passages, and walk across a rat-sized tightrope.
Just as that level has been completed (and you expect to repeat the process all over in a new environment), the game introduces a sliding mini-game similar to the racing/sliding portions of the recent Mario and Sonic games. After that, Remy gets chased by Linguini, the human star of the story. By the time you get back to the action/adventure portion of the quest, a new mechanic will have been added that presents another kind of challenge. In a move that brings back memories of the last Ape Escape, the infamous box technique Solid Snake uses to hide from question-mark guards can be used by Remy to avoid detection from rat-hungry felines.
Technically none of these features are new. But having them crammed into one action/adventure is a very rare occurrence. Furthermore, it’s not very common for a licensed game to have a good control scheme, but that’s another area where Ratatouille excels. If you’ve played video games before, you can play this one. The controls are very smooth and responsive, whether scurrying through the sewer, across pipes, or jumping to and from the numerous platforms you’ll encounter. There again, players will be amazed at Remy’s diversity. In addition to his double jump and Crash Bandicoot-style tailspin attack, Remy can swing from poles like a gymnast – or to gamers, like the Prince of Persia.
Ratatouille’s worlds are large but are not without direction. Remy’s most unique feature is his scent vision, a special ability that reveals a glowing trail to each destination. It’s not necessary in every stage. Part of the fun of an action/adventure is exploring. But if you get lost, forget what’s next, or just need to verify that you’re on the right track, hold the L1 button to pick up the scent. While viewing Remy’s version of a GPS, the camera is fully movable, allowing you to see the trail from any angle. This adds to the seamlessness of the experience, as players will not have to struggle to perform a move or figure out what’s going on.
Those of you who have seen the movie will love the world designs. Most of them are taken directly from the film, while other locations were inspired by the story and things that didn’t make it into theaters. Likewise, there are quite a few lines that resemble (but are not exact to) the film’s dialogue. The scenes are played out in CG form, but it’s a lower-quality CG that more closely matches the look of the game, as opposed to high-quality images that match the beauty seen on the big screen.
Run Remy, run!
Action/adventure camera systems come in three forms: automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. Ratatouille goes for the latter style and achieves flawed (but above-average) results. For the most part the camera moves very freely. Most locations don’t have a significant restriction. But if you’re standing in between two large objects, such as a box and a garbage can, the camera is more likely to get stuck. You can fool with it and jump around to fix the problem, so it’s unlikely that the average Ratatouille fan will give it much thought. (I’ve seen the movie twice, and the theater had more teens and adults than kids both times.)
The younger fans, however, might find this part of the game to be very frustrating. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s going to be for a seven-year-old who is new to gaming and camera problems. If boredom sets in, he or she may quit before the camera moves back into place.
Like any good French pastry, Ratatouille is a short but sweet dessert that’ll leave gamers hungry for more. It’s a great action game whose only significant flaws – length and camera problems – are unlikely to keep you from enjoying this delicious treat.
Review Scoring Details for Ratatouille
Ratatouille contains the ingredients for action/adventure success: great worlds, great controls, good music, cool bonuses, and a fair amount of replay value. It also has two ingredients that could’ve been left on the shelf – the game is short and has camera issues. The former is more damaging than the camera, which is generally manageable. Replay value aside, there are some gamers who won’t want to spend $40 on a game that can be finished in a couple of days.
As the console version running at the lowest resolution, you probably wouldn’t expect Ratatouille to look good on PlayStation 2. But the visuals, character animations, and world environments are very appealing. The game mimics the movie’s grand effects with memorable results.
At least some of Ratatouille’s tracks come from the movie. The rest, whether on the big screen are not, are very enjoyable and have that distinct and infectious sound you’ll be hearing for weeks after seeing the film.
Ratatouille is an easy game with some slightly challenging bonus objectives. You won’t have fully completed the game until all of the items have been collected.
A refined collection of numerous and traditional action/adventure gameplay mechanics.
Ratatouille’s multiplayer mini-games consist of objectives that mirror the single-player goals (rat races, item collection, etc.) but aren’t as fun.
The only rat you’d ever want to have in your home. Ratatouille is an enjoyable action/adventure rendition of the current number-one film in America (and the most entertaining comedy of the year). Rent it for quick fun; buy it for the lasting replay value.
Contains the ingredients for action/adventure success: great worlds, great controls, good music, cool bonuses, and a fair amount of replay value
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 07/03/2007