|System: X360, Wii, 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|
Parents will be happy to hear theres very little fighting in the game. In fact, Larry doesnt directly attack any of his adversaries; he works around that by using a handful of tools and special abilities to interact with and manipulate the environment to his best advantage. His main gizmo, keys on a retractable chain, can be used to grab and pull objects to him, swing across chasms, form a spinning circle of defense, or climb up onto higher objects. Another key item, a large flashlight, is used to direct magical powers youll pick up throughout the game.
Much of the adventure hinges on hunting down missing pieces of the Egyptian tablet. Picking up each piece of the tablet gives you a new power, which is where the game mechanics prove to be surprisingly inventive and fun. Tablet pieces let you interact and repair mechanical or broken objects, commune with animals to entice them to help you out, locate invisible treasures, jump through paintings, and more.
Theres more to Battle of the Smithsonian than merely exploring museums and searching for items. In addition to solving various puzzles, youll have the opportunity to fly a plane through tight corridors, ride a T-Rex skeleton to battle thugs, control a diminutive Roman soldier as he climbs through a snack-filled vending machine, and pilot a lunar module to dodge cannon fire. Not all of it is that enjoyable. Its the games intermittent platforming elements that turn out to be the weakest link. In one instance, youll run and jump along the wings of antique planes attached via cables to the ceiling of a giant warehouse. This is where the controls start to feel imprecise and twitchy, causing you to fall frequently. Other platforming moments offer similar frustrations. The game isnt overly difficult, and youll be able to persevere with persistence, but the final stretches may prove to be more challenging than expected for young players.
The biggest gripe about Battle of the Smithsonian aside from the fact its simply a straightforward marketing tie-in to help rake in extra cash alongside the film is that it just doesnt offer much length or substance for the $40 youre being asked to spend on it. The main adventure is really short likely to account for the perception of kids having minute attention spans. Even if you spend the extra time to seek out all the bonus items to collect, were talking about a total runthrough of a few hours at best. Otherwise, the presentation is amusing and appropriate for kids, and the light difficulty and simple-to-grasp gameplay concepts are fitting. A little more length and depth, and this one might almost be worth a recommendation.
CCC Staff Contributor