Review by Wolfvie
One of the better licensed games to come late in the PS1's lifespan
Good use of movie licenses tend to be few and far between when it comes to video games and much to my surprise, Stuart Little 2 fits nicely into this treasured minority.
Storywise the game closely follows the childrens film of the same name; you play as Stuart Little a humanistic mouse that must, with the help of his bird friend Margalo, recover a set of rings and jewellery whilst avoiding the wrath of the merciless Falcon.
Its fairly standard kids stuff told entirely through a set of low resolution film clips ripped straight from the events of the film. Ultimately though, whats featured is just here to give purpose and motivation to the protagonist and set the scene for the gameplay which is undoubtedly the catalyst of this title.
If cutesy cartoony aesthetics are your thing, Stuart Little 2 has a sufficient offering. The surrounding environments while overly blocky are oozing with colour and imagination. The characters (particularly Stuart) all animate very nicely with the range of different scripted actions they possess.
The draw distance is actually surprisingly broad, whilst maintaining a standard fairly steady frame rate. Overall it does a good job sidestepping the technical limitations of the PS1 whilst providing an experience that doesnt resemble a rushed eyesore (much like other similar titles).
Upon booting up the game youll be greeted with the chirpy, grand soundtrack that you might expect from a game like this. Unfortunately its evident that the devs got a bit lazy in the regard that the same exact song has been copied and pasted throughout all of the games levels. Granted the track is both long enough and diverse enough that it could easily go over your head, but after a while it does become infectiously catchy (but not always in a good way) and from that point blatantly evident.
The voice acting is a touch above average and fortunately doesnt fall victim to the exorbitant over acting that is common in the majority licensed titles trying to live up to the success of the performances of the movies they seek to leech off of.
If youve played just one of the seemingly limitless numbers of collect-a-thon platformers in the Playstations library (or the PS/N64 era in general) youre probably likely to have already played what Stuart Little 2 has to offer in the gameplay department. Regardless while the game brings very little new to the table, what is does deliver is a solid set of mechanics, unique level design; all this from a kids game.
The game plays much like you might expect. Stuart has access to the standard set of genre-defining moves and abilities, running, jumping, crawling, climbing and swimming through a set of expansive settings. The combat is kept to a simple two-button melee and ranged attack which shifts the focus to the platforming and exploration (as it should be). This puts an emphasis on the environmental hazards in the games levels as the small insects and rodents that run rampant wont pose nearly as much of a threat to your sense of self-security.
Each level is developed around the same, but undeniably addictive formula which features a set of collectables (or in this case jewellery) awarded upon completion of certain objectives which range from simple platforming, combat and even a few vehicular sections. Upon collecting a certain amount of rings, you are rewarded with a new level to complete the same process over again in a new albeit familiar environment.
The level design will seem very familiar if youve played Travellers Tales excellent Pixar adaptations (A Bugs Life/Toy Story 2). Otherwise mundane locations such as suburban areas, parks and sewer systems are turned into big, sprawling worlds albeit on a miniature scale. Its not nearly as unique or detailed as the aforementioned titles but it still retains a sense of uniqueness that helps
sets it apart from similar titles.
The games only features six or so levels (not including an extended tutorial) which seems a little light but the world presented is expansive enough that you could just well end up spending more time then you need to, exploring all the various nooks and crannies and secrets to recover that last golden ring. Still, its a hard ask to expect this level of devotion to such a small sample of content that youre more than likely finish in about four-five hours without any additional deviation.
Control wise Stuart Little 2 doesnt stray to far from the templates set from the pioneers of the genre. Its fairly standard with most actions mapped to the face buttons and both physical/camera movement mapped to the left and right sticks respectively. Theres no real learning curve to speak of which adds to its overall appeal to kids.
Now for a quick revision...
+ Solid set of mechanics...
+ And Level design even more so.
+ Looks fairly decent.
+ Good set of VAs
- Extremely brief experience (and lack of any alternate modes to speak of really hurts its replayability)
- Doesnt do much to separate itself from genre precursors.
- Lack of music (seriously only one track?
Stuart Little 2 deliverers a great budget platforming romp, hampered by its length and lack of any ulterior motives to warrant a second playthrough. Still worth a look if you can look past its childish presentation and overall brief nature of its experience.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Stuart Little 2 (US, 07/17/02)
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