Reviewed: December 13, 2007
Released: October 30, 2007
Jerry Seinfeld’s latest project is the CGI blockbuster, Bee Movie. Seinfeld wrote, directed, and “starred” in the tale of Barry B. Benson, a honeybee on a mission to find out why humans seem content with constantly stealing the bees’ precious honey stores, and punish them for doing so.
Bee Movie Game has hit all three major consoles since the major theatrical release, and now we have the Nintendo DS version thanks to the folks at Dreamworks and Vicarious Visions.
The Bee Movie Game for the DS differs only slightly in design from its console brethren in that the game has been further simplified for younger players (it was pretty simple to begin with), and the controls and gameplay have been tweaked to utilize the stylus-based input.
Vicarious Visions does a commendable job conveying the open-world design of the console versions, allowing Barry the freedom to wander the various game locations in and around New York’s Central Park setting. Whether inside the hive (New Hive City), outside in the park, or at any of the off site settings (grocery store, farm, etc), the worlds are surprisingly lively for the limited processing power of the DS.
The game is a blend of exploration/collection quests, and stylus-based mini-games. The story progresses with Barry being assigned certain collection tasks (collect x number of pollen bundles, find x many bugs, etc.), which reward Barry with certain abilities that bring Barry closer to his goal of becoming a pollen jock.
The mini-games appear during pivotal scenes in the gameplay and/or the few boss battles. The mini-games revolve around touching specific spots of the screen, and/or making timed stylus swipes. The mechanic is incredibly simple, but much like old classics like Simon, the mini-games are oddly addictive.
Vicarious Visions continues to prove that they know how to squeeze every last bit out of the DS, and Bee Movie is the perfect example. Through smart use of lighting and shadowing, Vicarious Visions has designed a fairly believable three-dimensional world through the generally isometric point of view.
The worlds are inhabited by an impressive amount of flora, fauna, and human bystanders – and while most living creatures follow predefined movements, the animations are quite solid for a handheld title.
Sound quality is never one of the things we expect wonders from in a DS game, but Bee Movie give a respectable showing – especially with respect to the voice acting which, while minimal (most of the story is conveyed via text boxes) features the likes Mr. Seinfeld himself.
The sound effects get the job done, featuring all of the sounds one would expect to hear from a bee’s perspective; natural outdoorsy sounds from the park scenes, honking horns from the city scenes, etc. Nothing is all that memorable, but all is very solid.
The background music is fairly generic, but does an acceptable job setting the mood of each scene.
The main problem with Bee Movie is that in simplifying the already simple game, Vicarious Visions has ended up with a title that poses little or no challenge at all. And while the youngest of gamers will probably enjoy the title, it is bound to be an issue with experienced gamers. The game can be completed in its entirety in only a few sittings, and offers little or no replay value. Whereas the console games have quite a few side-missions to keep the gamer busy, the DS version is lacking.
Vicarious Visions has achieved a nice presentation with Bee Movie, but the watered-down gameplay is sure to wear on experienced gamers. The game is perfect for the younger set, but older gamers might want to look elsewhere.