|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zen Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft Game Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-12||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Rocky and Bullwinkle for the Xbox Live Arcade is an unpolished children's title from Zen Studios. The game is made up of a collection of micro-games in the style of Nintendo's WarioWare, Inc. Sadly, the repetitive control mechanic, unimaginative challenges, and stilted animations make for a real yawner of a title. To be honest, I've had more fun with a number of internet flash banners then with this game. Fortunately, the liberal use of the Rocky and Bullwinkle license should bring back some memories and may be a good way to introduce a child to a beloved cartoon classic.
Rocky and Bullwinkle is divided into seven "Shows" (levels) that will unlock as you progress through the game. All in all, there are 105 micro-games to open up, 25 of which can be played with the Xbox LIVE Vision camera. The games will last anywhere from five to fifteen seconds depending on the task. Objectives are straightforward and usually consist of crossing the finish line in a vehicle, collecting presents, hanging laundry out to dry, crossing a bridge, getting through a maze with the Golden Fleece, etc.
The game is set in the world of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and as such, the developers have put a ton of related content into the game. There are many picture-in-picture video clips along with short audio blurbs of the original voice actors. This all comes together and helps to set the tone. In addition to the silly moose and the rocket-quick flying squirrel, there are other classic characters such as Boris and Natasha No-goodnick, Dudley Do-Right, Nell, Mr. Peabody, and Aesop. All the characters are accurately portrayed in their appropriate surroundings and should serve to produce a nostalgic smile or two. Unfortunately, the game is devoid of the charming wit and humor of the cartoon that appealed to such a wide audience.
Consequently, the use of the license isn't enough to save the game from itself. The micro-games are so dull and uninspired that the game lacks any sense of accomplishment. There are gadgets that can be unlocked and then purchased with collected box tops, which in turn give you various point bonuses and additional time. These gadgets don't feel like much of a reward, however. In fact, the most rewarding aspect of this game is the mandatory Microsoft Achievement Points that you'll obtain along the way. A real boon to the title would have been the ability to unlock full-length cartoons to be watched at anytime. This might have singlehandedly saved it. Alas, this is not an available feature so you'll have to make do with the game itself.
If you are ten years of age or older, you won't enjoy this title due to the utter simplicity and repetitiveness of the micro-games. The games consist of tapping the A button, alternating clicks between LT and RT, and turning the left analog stick around in circles. There are a couple other button combinations employed, but after playing the game for the last three hours, that's all I can remember. Literally, the same control scheme will be used over and over again with only the backgrounds and scenarios changing. For example, the micro-games "Get it Done Wright," "Steamboat Race," "Whiplash the Horse," "Well Done, Dudley," and "The Centipede and the Snail" are all the exact same game. The only difference between them is the setting change. In fact, there are a number of other games that are also identical to those already mentioned, but I didn't start writing down the names until the later levels, when it became clear that I was seeing a pattern that was going to persist throughout the title.