Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Review
Xbox 360 | Wii
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian box art
System: Wii, X360, PC, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Pipeworks Software 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Majesco Entertainment 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 5, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

It is finally that time of the year again when the temperature begins to rise, daylight sticks around a bit longer, and kids find themselves with an inordinate amount of free time on their hands. Not surprisingly, it is also in this season of the year when you’ll find a large supply of summer blockbusters and family-friendly films hitting your local theaters.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian screenshot

Because of these factors, summer is also when you’ll likely notice a deluge of often subpar movie tie-in video games flooding store shelves in order to capitalize on their theatrical counterpart’s hype and marketing campaigns. Sadly, for fans of the film series eagerly looking forward to the video game version of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (BOTS) on the Wii, you should probably prepare yourself for disappointment, as it does very little to buck this trend.

Usually, one of the big draws for any movie tie-in game comes from including the likenesses and voice work of the film’s main characters. BOTS clearly tries to do the right thing here by having Larry Dailey being modeled after and voiced by actor/comedian Ben Stiller, who also played Larry in both Night at the Museum films. Unfortunately, this authenticity is a bit of a double-edged sword, as Larry only resembles Stiller in the vaguest of ways, if at all, even as a video game caricature of himself. This is only made more awkward when listening to the actor’s voice emanating from this poorly done virtualization of Stiller. While this problem will likely only be confusing to the younger gamers playing BOTS, the lifeless and often humorless dialogue delivered by Stiller is enough to turn away an audience of any age. Having not seen the film, I can’t say whether or not this game actually uses voice clips taken directly from the movie, but for the sake of movie goers everywhere, I’ll continue to hope not.

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Presentation continues to be a problem for BOTS both during the game and in its many cutscenes. The museum itself and the game’s other environments don’t look too shabby, but most of the game’s characters are fairly bland-looking and animate rather stiffly. Cutscenes, while abundantly represented in BOTS, look pretty bad. It isn’t that these clips can’t be entertaining or are inherently hideous for what they are, but they commonly look unnecessarily blocky, as though they’re being played in a lower resolution than the rest of the game. This is really disappointing considering these scenes appear almost constantly throughout BOTS in order to further the story, deliver your next objective, or as an attempt to inject more humor into your current situation.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian screenshot

The premise of the game is probably about what you’d expect from a game based on BOTS. Following the magical tablet that brings museum exhibits to life, Larry winds up in, you guessed it, the Smithsonian. Here, Ahkmenrah’s evil brother Kahmunrah gets his hands on this tablet and plans on using it to take over the world. To better his chances for success he enlists the aid of such historic figures as Napoleon, Al Capone, and Ivan the Terrible by giving each of them a number of ingots taken from the tablet. It is then up to Larry to foil Kahmunrah’s plans by defeating his newfound minions and reclaiming all of the distributed ingots. Of course, Larry isn’t entirely on his own throughout this quest, as he’ll come into contact with friendly historical figures like Amelia Earhart, Ben Franklin, and even a fairly unstable Abraham Lincoln along the way.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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