It’s probably a bit clichéd to talk about video games based on movies in the intro to a review about a video game based on a movie but they are genuinely so terrible it needs bringing up every time. Rushed out of the door with little care or attention given to them as, say, your Fallouts or your indie games, they’re guaranteed to be bad. Rather than investing time, it’s all about the pay check here. Or at least it is to the publishers and the movie moguls who believe basing a game on a movie will shift loads more units. It’s possible to go on about this for ages and ages and ages but this is about Tintin so I guess we should talk about how mediocre it is. Or is it?
The Adventures of Tintin roughly follows the plot of the recent “The Secret of the Unicorn” film but with certain alcoholism references taken out to keep the kids off the sauce. Tintin purchases a model of The Unicorn, a ship, that mysteriously sinks with all of its secret cargo on board. On closer inspection, however, he notices that this model is the key to finding the sunken treasure and, in search of a good story, travels the world in an attempt to find the treasure. The game is split up into a variety of sections: 2.5D platforming sections which are reminiscent of Prince of Persia, vehicle sections (both motorbike and plane) as well as 3D exploration sections. Luckily for us, the game mainly focuses on the platforming sections this is where the fun in Tintin comes from.
You’ll spend most of your time on the main campaign, which follows the story of the film and places you in the shoes of our boy reporter and his loveable dog Snowy. As said before, most of the action takes places on a 2D plane. You work your way across various platforms; jumping, rolling and bouncing off walls to reach the door to the next area. Along the way may be a few baddies. You can beat them up the traditional way, with some lovely family-friendly clunks and fluttering birds upon defeating them, or you could be a bit more intuitive. You could lead them into the path of a slippery floor which causes them to slide about ultimately falling on their behinds in comical fashion or you could jump in a barrel or sneak behind them and whack them on the head. Other enemies might have shields or umbrellas protecting them so you either need to sneak behind them and get their weak spot or destroy their shield. While it might not prove a challenge to older gamers, for kids, the AI is the right amount of stupid to make it frustrating and the funny, cartoonish fights even made me smile a little bit.
The 3D exploration scenes are just a bit pointless. They’re nothing more than a “run away from danger towards the camera” sequence which isn’t all that challenging anyway or they’re just walking around a town with very little to do. Had the transition between levels simply been a cutscene, there would be no need for the pointless 3D scenes. The vehicle sections are also a bit hit-and-miss. While the motorbike sequence (swapping from driving the motorbike to shooting down baddies chasing you, with a one powerful slingshot), is a lot of fun, the plane sequences are less so. These sections rarely add anything to the story and just consist of you dodging tornadoes or boulders (which is relatively easy) or shooting static enemies. There’s no real sense of challenge here and a lot of the time you could just be waiting for it to end already. It’s not terrible but it’s not exciting either. It’s just … there. After a while, the whole game begins to feel like a case of déjà vu, with only the platforming sections being able to offer any excitement at all.
Beyond this main mode, there is a challenge mode based around the non-platforming section. Here it gives those vehicular sections more of a purpose and thus the plane sections are slightly more fun. There is also a swashbuckling game based on the pirate backstory that you can play every so often in the main story. The challenge mode also utilises Kinect but, without Kinect, we were not able to test how well this works.
Surprisingly, co-op is where Tintin shines, providing a lot of meta-humour throughout the course of the campaign and a chance to play as some of the side characters. Each character has their own ability which will be useful in combat or in puzzle solving and even Tintin gets a few moves which can help you along. This section tends to stick very much to the platforming side of things and does away with the boring pointless bits. If only they had put this much effort into the main game!
The cartoony feel, especially in combat, and the look of the environments, although clunky at times, do manage to capture the cartoon feel of the books and the 3D feel of the film. It’s nothing special but everything is recognisable and somewhat dripping in nostalgia.
The Adventures of Tintin is very much a product created to sell more units and promote the film but its co-op side manages to shine. If you can forget about the poor vehicle sections or you just want a fun co-op experience with your kid, you could fare a lot worse than Tintin.