Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs - Xbox 360

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is illustrative of a change in the way film tie-in games are now produced. Typically seen as cash cows and chiefly a way of milking the last drops of cash from a franchise, games were often rush produced to meet the film launch deadline, inevitably resulting in sub-standard fare.
These days the film production companies are more savvy, preferring to be associated with a more quality product and therefore involve the development companies at a much earlier stage.
Meatballs certainly seems to capture some of the film’s magic, allowing for the fact that an inevitable lack in characterisation means a heavier emphasis on the art style and fantastical situations.
The gameplay chiefly involves platforming and combat, as is tradition with a tie-in aimed at kids. The mechanics are fairly basic owing to the perceived skill levels of the pre-teen intended audience, but the use of inventor Flint Lockwood’s gadgets to overcome the obstacles in the levels and deal with the sentient food aggressors lends it a little complexity. There are collectables hidden throughout each stage which accumulate in order for you to upgrade the devices, including a vacuum for sucking in and shooting out substances, a slicing blade, extending boxing glove and overpowered hair dryer.
The introductory animation is presented in a charming 8-bit style and this is repeated between each stage, while the levels themselves are bright and chunky, fitting the look of the film perfectly.
As the challenge is so slight the whole game can be wrapped up in a few hours, but they are satisfying hours. It would have been nice to have something a little harder (the NES era games were all aimed at kids but were pretty unforgiving - Ghouls n Ghosts anyone?) but it’s a fun diversion.

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