Whatever the merits of the original work, game-of-the-movie titles tend to be rushed to market to coincide with a cinema release for the most cynical of purposes. The multiple development years that characterise genre-defining titles such as Halo and Grand Theft Auto, and have turned them into media phenomena far bigger than Hollywood blockbusters such as WALL-E, are usually not in evidence.
This WALL-E is a 3D platform game. It involves looking over our hero’s solar powered shoulders and moving him in and out of danger while solving puzzles built into the environment. Precise timing and a certain degree of lateral thinking is called for, but when all else fails dumb luck will do it. Missions are divided between the binocular-faced trash-compacting robot throwing cubes of about five kinds of rubbish to progress past obstacles and his less interesting girlfriend, a flying laser-armed probe called Eve who squeals mechanically when guided carelessly into scenery. As in any good relationship, Eve and Wall-E occasionally join forces to enhance their overall capabilities while at the same time hobbling their individual assets.
The repetitive mission tasks swing all too often from pitifully easy to infuriatingly difficult. A minority of the settings are visually delightful but the graphical sophistication of the in-game environments seem to have been rendered with no more ambition than for the capabilities of consoles built seven years ago.
That Wall-E the game does not escape its limitations as a piece of merchandising only adds to the clunking irony that Pixar’s science fiction fairy tale rails against consumerist excess and sloth. A message that a video game of any virtue, but especially one aimed at children, is poorly equipped to deliver.
Available now for X-Box 360, PS2, PS3 and Wii.