Great audio; strong use of 3D; Ralph and Felix feel and control differently
Lack of gameplay and enemy variety; short length; no cameos from Activision's character roster
Wreck-It Ralph is one of my favorite Disney movies to come along in years. It has a heart to it that most video game-related films often miss. In the movie, Ralph is a video game villain questioning his lot in life, and how he can be looked up to in the same way that his rival, Fix-It Felix, is. If you haven’t seen it yet, I cannot recommend it enough. But can the same be said for the film’s 3DS tie-in?
The Wreck-It Ralph 3DS game picks up immediately after the film, acting as a “pseudo-sequel” to the movie. I really like this recent trend. Activision did this with the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in game, and the results were pretty enjoyable, at least in the PlayStation 3 version I played. It makes the game feel like less of a retread. Unfortunately, Wreck-It Ralph seems to have chosen this avenue because it allows for the least resistance. Following the plot of the film would require more diversity in the level design. And that brings us to the game’s biggest problem: there just isn’t enough going on here.
Wreck-It Ralph has players visiting the 3 “games” from the film: Fix-It Felix Jr., Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush. While this seems like a great way to split up the gameplay, the unfortunate reality is that none of these 3 worlds feels any different from the others. Each level has players fighting the same cy-bug enemies, jumping from platform to platform and solving a few basic puzzles. The different worlds act as little more than a different coat of paint. And that’s a shame, because some real variety between the levels could have made this a must own title. Imagine if the Sugar Rush levels were kart races, or the Hero’s Duty levels focused entirely on shooting? I can’t help but think there’s a lot of missed potential in this game.
Another problem with the game worlds is that they feel pretty empty. Outside of the cy-bugs, you won’t really find anyone else occupying the game. Game Central Station acts as the game’s hub world, but it’s nothing like it is in the film. Not a single video game character can be found. While I realize licensed characters would have been expensive, you’d think Activision could have had one or two of their own characters show up. The film’s female leads Vanellope von Schweetz and Calhoun both make cameos in the game, but they do little more than verbally tease you if you die. And death is pretty infrequent in Wreck-It Ralph, so you won’t see them too often.
In addition to being easy, the game is also pretty short. A seasoned gamer can finish it off within just a few hours. Beating the game does unlock a more difficult mode, while finding heroes medals and Easter eggs (literal Easter eggs, which I found amusing) unlocks concept art. I really would have liked it if the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade game had been included as an unlockable, but, sadly, it appears to be missing.
What the game does pull off pretty well is the ability to switch between Ralph and Felix. Both characters can (and need to be) switched on the fly to reach the end of each level. I really liked how both characters handled a lot differently. Felix is a more skilled jumper and boasts the ability to fix things while Ralph allows players to smash, both through objects and through cy-bugs, which are much easier to take down with the game’s title character.
One frequent complaint about 3DS games is the lack of actual 3D. Just starting up the game, players will find that isn’t an issue here. The title screens alone pop right right off the screen. In fact, the 3D is almost TOO much. I actually found myself turning it down, here and there. It would have been nice to see it integrated into the gameplay a little more, but it’s stronger than most 3DS games on shelves, which I appreciated.
The game also boasts some very nice voice-work. There’s quite a bit of dialogue, and some of the voice actors from the film reprise their roles. Unfortunately, John C. Reilly (who voices Ralph in the film) is missing, but his stand-in does a pretty decent job. The sound effects are also strong. When Felix dies, he makes the same noise he does in the film, which is a cool touch.
Wreck-It Ralph does some things right. The voice work is a lot of fun and the sound effects and 3D are impressive, especially for fans of the film. At the end of the day though, it just doesn’t offer enough. It’s a pretty basic side-scroller with little in terms of depth or length. A shame when you consider how perfect the source material seems to be for a video game. While I wouldn’t say they wrecked it, I’d still stick to the movie.