NINTENDO DS REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLES: RISE OF THE UNDERMINER
The Incredibles: Rise Of The Underminer
Nice graphics
2 Player Co-op
Repetitive button masher
Touch screen inconvenient

When you're called The Incredibles, you had better make sure you live up to that name. by Cole Smith

December 1, 2005 - The story is one-dimensional but at least the graphics aren't.

The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer is basically a GBA game augmented to fulfill the capabilities of the DS. The results are what appears to be a rushed product with generic gameplay elements and bare-bones features that hardly make the DS break a sweat. It looks nice though.

The Underminer is your stereotypical, underground-dwelling villain that threatens the existence of the free world with his legion of robots. Eschewing the family component of superheroes, the only playable characters are Mr. Incredible and his cool pal Frozone. The others are relegated to drilling holes into the Earth as the two men take to the underground to battle robot, after robot, after robot. The premise is as simple as the gameplay - and is as predictable as it is repetitive.

Games tied to movies are usually disappointing and this is one is no exception. Add to the fact that it's the Holiday season and you really need to be on the lookout for exploitative games. I can sympathize with kids that love the Incredibles and trust that a game based on the popular blockbuster should possess some level of quality throughout. Unfortunately the only thing that passes muster are the graphics. Kids are going to be disappointed with this one.

Gone are the sprites in favor of hand-drawn images which do look good. Primarily a side-scroller, there is a mix of 3D and 2D graphics, known as 2.5. The backgrounds are colorful and nicely detailed but the underground backgrounds and textures becomes redundant. You have to be on top of the planet to truly appreciate the characters, backgrounds and colors. The 2.5 graphics come at a price. The camera is largely static and usually won't display the next region until you are already immersed in it. This will leave you open to take some hits from offscreen enemies. Even during some of the robot battles the camera will stay fixed as scores of robots, usually two at a time, are sent in from either side. These areas are confining and make it very difficult to move your character around and plan an attack.

The gameplay requires a lot of button mashing but the developers sought to integrate the touch control system of the DS which is very inconvenient. The commands require you to draw squiggles and tap the screen which typically result in command errors. Although you can access most of the moves from the face buttons and D-pad you will still encounter some inaccurate commands such as Frozone's randomly-faulty aiming ability which sometimes causes him to wind up shooting too high or too low.

Mixing elements of combat, platforming and puzzle solving you will control both characters and use their different abilities to destroy robots and pass obstacles. Mr. Incredible is strong and has the ability to smash through walls, jump on enemies and even pick them up and throw them. In order to pick them up, the enemies must be frozen so that they pose no threat. It's best to have Frozone freeze the robots first and then use Mr. Incredible to either throw them or smash them. This will result in fewer hits.

Frozone can also use his freezing ability to create paths of ice that Mr. Incredible can glide on to reach certain levels. He can also create floating platforms of ice to give Mr. Incredible a higher area from which to launch an attack. The loose control system makes staying on these platforms a challenge and you are also at the mercy of the robots that launch projectiles at you. Unlike Frozone, their aim is much more deadly and accurate.

You will need another copy of the game to play the co-op mode. Each of the two players can play as either Frozone or Mr. Incredible. This mode is the most fun you will have with the game but it's not so much fun that I would recommend two players each purchasing separate copies. But if you and friend of yours manage to get a copy of this game for Christmas, all is not lost.

There is very little in the way of voice samples. The console version is full of dialog but all we get here is text. The music is limited and the sound effects seldom vary.

The game is relatively short but the replay value has been artificially inflated by limited saves that force you to start over when you lose your life. There are no collectibles which you can use to purchase things, nor are there any unlockables such as characters, costumes or mini-games. What you will find when searching for items are points. Nothing but points - from which to increase your high score. What a rip! Who cares about high score, especially when you have to go through the entire boring game over again?

Features:

  • All new action/adventure game that begins where the film, Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios film, The Incredibles concludes
  • Play as Mr Incredible or Frozone
  • Cooperative gameplay with the ability to change characters at any point in the game
  • Upgrade your character's moves and abilities as you advance through the game

By Cole Smith
CCC Reviews Editor

Rating out of 5
The Incredibles: Rise Of The Underminer (DS)
4.3
Graphics
Decent, but a world apart from even the console version.
2.4
Control
Targetting problems hound this button masher and the touch screen doesn't help matters.
3.1
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing much in the way of voice samples and the music is exactly what you'd expect in a Disney superhero game.
2.5
Play Value
The whole experience is on the short side and co-op play won't stretch it much further.
2.5
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Pacific Power and Light
Pub: THQ
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best