Meet the Robinsons «

Videogames based on Disney movies are designed to launch right around the same time as the film, distract the kids for a week or two, and then get shelved. They might be pulled down again for another go when the movie comes out on DVD, but let’s face it — they’re made to be disposable. Still, given the obvious commercial cash-in nature of these Disney games, they’re typically pretty good. Sure, they’re not going to win any game of the year awards, but you can tell that some thought and care went into making them. Oftentimes, however, the portable versions of these licensed games seem to get neglected in favor of their console big brothers.

That said, the GBA version of Meet the Robinsons falls right into line with this trend. Although it’s not a bad game (its simple gameplay can be fun), it’s clear that it didn’t get the attention that the console versions received. This GBA version does earn some bonus points out of the gate for being the only Robinsons game that lets you control not only Wilbur Robinson, the troublemaking kid from the future, but also Lewis, the orphaned inventor who is the film’s main character.

Interestingly enough, the game serves as a sequel to the movie. Little Doris, the evil, robotic bowler hat, has returned and is attempting to take down the Robinson clan. Wilbur travels back in time and recruits Lewis to help save the future from the hat’s many duplicates. Throughout the game, you play as both Wilbur and Lewis in two distinct types of stages. Wilbur, being the more adventuresome of the two, has side-scrolling platform stages to conquer, and Lewis’ stages are more puzzle-centric and viewed from the same sort of top-down perspective that you see in the 2D Zelda titles.

The Haberdashery Menace

Despite the varying gameplay styles, both sets of stages have similar goals. In most cases, you must defeat a certain number of Dorises, find blueprints for a new gadget, and collect the pieces to build each invention. Upon collecting all the parts, a quick mini-game is played, allowing the device to be activated. Throughout each level, hidden items can be collected that unlock artwork and extra mini-games. To get all of these collectibles, you’ll have to revisit past stages and utilize gadgets that you earn later in the adventure, somewhat extending the replay value.

Both segments have their share of problems, but Wilbur’s stages seem to have the bulk of them. The Wilbur sprite is nice and large, but its animation is severely lacking. The level design is also extremely bland, making most of Wilbur’s stages look and feel identical. It isn’t long before you feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again, even with the introduction of new gadgets. Lewis’ stages don’t feel quite as repetitive, but they occasionally suffer from a lack of direction. Some unclear goals will leave you wandering back and forth around a stage hoping that you randomly activate the proper trigger that allows you to advance farther into the stage.

Chances are you’ll quickly become irritated by the frequent pop-up windows that appear whenever you complete one of the stages’ goals. Stopping the action to tell me that I’ve destroyed a “Travel Tube” or collected an invention piece is fine during the first couple levels in the game, but when I’m still getting these “we have to explain everything to you because you’re just learning how the game is played” messages late in the game, it becomes annoying. I know it’s a kids’ game, but come on — they’re not stupid.

If there’s a young gamer in your family, there are far worse games they could be playing on the GBA than Robinsons. Aside from the few issues mentioned above, it’s a solid little game. Of course, if you’re going to be investing in an animated movie-licensed game for the system, your money would certainly be better spent on last month’s surprisingly good TMNT.


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