It's the game based on the movie based on the game. Dave E picks up a hammer and starts somehow fixing glass windows with it... (?)Fix-It Felix Jnr.
There's been a fair bit of hype for Fix-It Felix Jnr, with previews and progress reports popping up in my Facebook-feed pretty frequently over the past couple of weeks. A number of people played some of the early builds and said some good things about the game, so it was something I made a conscious effort to play almost as soon as it was released. And, well, it looks lovely. The trouble is that it's really, really boring to play.
If you've never seen the movie Wreck-It Ralph, then you've probably never been introduced to the hero. Both Fix-It Felix and Wreck-It Ralph are, in an alternative universe, retro arcade machine heroes. Ralph is like the gorilla in Donkey Kong, Ralph is the equivalent of Mario. Instead of beams and ladders, we get a hotel which Ralph smashes and Felix attempts to fix. (And, as an aside, the movie is well worth watching if you haven't seen it already!)
In this game you take on the role of Felix and your task is to fix all the windows of each floor of the each hotel. You leap from one windowsill to the next, tapping the fire button three times to fix the window before proceeding to the next. Above you, Ralph struts back and forth, raining barrels down on your head. You're safest on the ground floor (because there's more time to get out of the way!) and need to be ready to jump out of the way more quickly as you get closer up the building.
The game does some technically impressive stuff. It has a beautiful animated introduction, complete with sampled speech and background music, and when Ralph starts pounding the building, a hardware scroll shakes the entire screen around. This is exactly what you would imagine the arcade machine in the movie would sound and play like - polished, but rather dated.
Unfortunately, it's all rather predictable. The journey up the building takes far too long, with each sheet having five 'blocks' to scroll through before you reach the top. There's a bit of variety offered through the bonus pies that the residents leave in their windows occasionally and, on later levels, the multitude of birds that are introduced. But there's no real addiction to the action, which is really a shame. Personally, I got bored of it within three minutes but, not wanting to consign it to the waste bin, I did persevere with it through to level three, by which time it was becoming extremely hard, with a strict time limit, two birds flying across the building at different speeds, Ralph's barrels and bits of masonry preventing easy bounding from certain windowsills.
When you reach the top of each level (five sheets of scrolling hotel), you get a nice animation (that cannot be skipped) where Felix gets snogged and Ralph gets thrown off the roof. But once you've seen it, ploughing through subsequent levels to be rewarded with the same animation holds little draw.
The graphics are attractive, the animation is fluid, the sound is awesome, the loading screen and attract mode are great... and yet, for whatever reason, the balance of the game is off. And, with such a simple premise, there's not really a lot more to say than that. If you're a big fan of the movie, no doubt it will attract you for a quick window-fixing session. But, if my experience is anything to go by, you'll leave Ralph to get on with his wrecking spree pretty quickly.