Review by Arkrex

Reviewed: 02/06/07

Arthur Ware: Fast and Furious

In 2006, an unprecedented number of CG animated movies (approximately 10!) debuted on the silver screen to audiences all over the globe. Some were worth the price of admission (Monster house, Hoodwinked), and some were a load of yarn (Barnyard, The Wild). Arthur and the Invisibles (AKA Arthur and the Minimoys outside of English speaking territories) is a mix of live-action and computer-animation, not unlike the famous Roger Rabbit, and tries to be a good watch, but ultimately tries too hard. It’s still worth watching just to see Luc Besson’s first foray into animation though.

The DS game of the same name features characters and snippets from the movie, but does not follow the storyline in any way. It’s not your standard action/adventure/driving/shooting licensed game either. Instead it is a compilation of 90 microgames, in the same vein as Nintendo’s leading franchise, Wario Ware. The games are well thought out, fun to play, and addictive until the end. The games are also generally tougher than what Wario gave us, but the unforgiving life system can make the whole experience absolutely brutal. You had better have a good stylus hand and strong buccinator muscles; you are gonna need it to survive this micro-adventure.

Visuals – 7
Sound & Music – 7
Gameplay – 7
Controls - A
Longevity – C
(Possible to be done within an hour, I managed in 2, you will probably take up to 5)
Replayability – B
(90 micro-games; no individual records; unlockables suck)
Difficulty – Hard
(NOT a good present for a young kid!)

Crank’d? – 9

There is no story

Arthur doesn’t even try to convey the plot properly to you; a brief CG cutscene is shown to you at the beginning, but that’s it for movies here. In between sets of micro-games there are a couple of stills along with some text, but 4 short sequences don’t tell you much. If you want to know more about the miniature world, go watch the movie or read the original novel.

This game is a blatant rip-off of Wario Ware, which is a good thing. It’s all about fast, frantic, and sometimes infuriating gameplay here. The unique features of the DS are utilised here just as well as Wario managed. But where Wario was all about simplicity and humour, aiming to let anybody have a good time regardless of age, gender and/or skill level, Arthur focuses more on puzzle solving and precision skills. It is a hard game to see all the way to the end, as you need full concentration to pass many of the later games thrown at you. Once you’re done you can rest easy, but then chances are you’ll be so glad it’s over that you wouldn’t mind never ever seeing this game again. But it’s still pretty fun if you can hack it.

Rub, tap, swipe, drag, rotate this, remember that, and don’t forget to blow like mad!
The sub-heading says it all really!

The 90 micro-games are spread over 12 sets (or levels if you prefer to call them that). You will need to complete anywhere from 10 to 40 of them in a row in order to pass each set and move on to the next. Each game lasts just a few seconds, so going through a double-digit amount isn’t as monstrous as it sounds. You will be given some brief instructions before each game starts (usually a second or so) and then you will have to rub, tap, swipe etc. etc. in order to successfully complete each game. It’s just like in the Wario Ware games. If you haven’t played Nintendo’s own series yet, I recommend you try them first. Anyone who hasn’t played them before is likely to have a terribly hard time following the rules here.

The many things you’ll have to do include smacking the butt of your flea to outrun the opposition(!), sliding sections of a bridge to allow your protagonists to cross safely, rubbing pollen off a flower, dragging those little furry mul-muls through a maze, blowing enemy insects away, and putting your mind to the test with various identification and recall tests. Within each set you will have a ‘boss’ encounter, which is a very misleading title. Here you will have to blow at a controlled rate to keep Arthur afloat (just like in Wario’s game), guide a car through a miniature obstacle course, and even bowl some tennis balls into the army of insects! But are they true face-offs? No. They are just simply longer, slightly more complex micro-games. The worst of it is once you’ve trudged through the final set of 40 micro-games, and are ready to take on a mega-cheap boss challenge…

WHAT?! There’s no final boss?! Yep, that’s right, the game just sort of ends right then and there. You get a couple of stills and a short description of how everyone has a happy ending, and nothing else. Biggest anti-climax ever!

That aside *pauses* … there is a lot to see and do, and many of the tasks are genuinely fun to play. The question is whether you will be able to see them all.

It’s a hard life
This game is hard for 3 main reasons. Firstly, the games are not all that simple. Many of them will require a lot of dexterity to beat. This is a problem made worse by the second reason: the time limits. If you just had 1 second more than 3 to line up all the mirrors, things wouldn’t have been so frustrating. Thirdly, you only have 3 lives, and so once you’ve lost 3 times, it’s back to the start matey. And unlike Wario Ware, you will never be able to regain lost lives. This leads to the game being extremely unforgiving, and the harshness will no doubt put off many gamers no matter what your skill level. This affects replayability in a Godzilla-like way too; who’s going to aim for top scores when it’s practically impossible to do so? Plus there is NO score keeping for individual games anyway!

It’s great that you can play through any games you’ve unlocked in the ‘museum mode’, and this will be especially important for practice for some people. A lot of the instructions given to you before each game commences are too brief; they tell you what to do, but not really how to do it. There is an icon which dictates whether it is a blow, rub, drag, etc. activity, but the few words that accompany the small icon to describe the situation don’t say much, and sometimes they just won’t make any sense. Micro-games such as scratching the record, or flinging the cat into the old man’s noggin, are guilty of this crime. Once you do understand how each game works (and this will take up a lot of your time spent), progression is smoother and much more enjoyable. The last few sets are very fast-paced and you will need to be on your toes, and then some, to keep the momentum going.

Out of gas
It looks like developers are finally starting to think up some original content for their licensed games of the latest film or book, and with the DS no less. While it is not a totally new idea, it still beats yet another poorly designed platformer. The problem with Arthur here is that the typical gaming kid will hate the sheer difficulty of it all, and as a result they will miss the best micro-games this product has to offer. Older, wiser gamers will be put off by the licensed nature, and it will probably remain invisible on their radar anyway. Not that they would have a much easier time with it mind you. If you have grown tired of replaying past offerings from Wario, the Rabbits, Bomberman, or some obscure Japanese hero, but want some more, Arthur and his gang will keep you in good company for a short while. Don’t be expecting too much here though; the Knights of the Round Table didn’t make the party.

P.S. What did I think about mul-mul raising sub-game? Let’s just say I’ve put it on pause, indefinitely.

6.5/10 – It looks rich and full of life, and plays hard and bloody fast

My Score System – a score of 7 from me denotes a good, solid game. Excellence earns a higher grade, whilst 4-6 reflects a below average product; glitchy, unplayable games deserve less.


Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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