Release Date: October 30, 2007
Word has it that it took about four years to write and produce "Bee Movie," Dreamworks' latest children's animated flick to hit the big screen to compete against the juggernaut that is Pixar. If it took four years to put together "Bee Movie," then how many years did it take developer Beenox to put together Bee Movie Game? Whatever the number is, it seems as if the time was not completely well spent, as the title is plagued with confusing interfaces, jangled controls and repetitive gameplay that takes away from the best things about the game — its presentation and charm.
Obviously, Bee Movie Game is more for kids or fans of the Jerry Seinfeld-penned flick, but the audience stops there. Thankfully, the game looks identical to the movie, which is surprising when compared to recent licensed movie games, like Shrek The Third. The main hive in which you reside is vast and vibrant. There aren't too many colors within the hive, since bees are only yellow and black, and most of the objects contrast to that color combination, too. Once you get into the thick of the game and are able to venture outside the hive, you'll see colors popping off the screen. It is not on the same level as Ratchet and Clank by any means, but for a game based on a children's movie, it's definitely better than you would expect.
Bee Movie Game features simplistic gameplay that anyone can enjoy as soon as he picks up the controller. As you control the protagonist, Barry B. Benson, you'll explore New Hive City by walking, flying or catching a few rides with some neighborly bees that reside in your hive. Don't try talking to them because they'll interrupt you mid-sentence and say absolutely nothing beneficial.
You're able to jump into any car that passes by or that you see, but if you really want to have a nice selection of cars, then you'll have to collect the honeycombs that are scattered throughout the game, which accumulate into currency that you can use to purchase cars. You'll also be able to purchase arcade games — coin-op rip-offs similar to classic titles like Space Invaders, but way worse — and various outfits that are representative of characters from the movie and some of the tasks that you complete during your time in New Hive City. Your highest scores can be uploaded onto Xbox Live leaderboards, and that's basically all of the Xbox Live action that you're going to get.
As previously mentioned, outfits such as a Honex Worker, Cab Driver, Car Mechanic, Race Car Driver and others represent aspects of the movie and game. Ironically, there are about five basic jobs that you will do: driving a cab, racing a car, repairing cars, delivering food and working for Honex itself. Each of these jobs will require you to pass some of the trials in order to unlock the main chapters of the game, and once you pass a chapter, you then have to pass some more job trials in order to unlock the other chapters. This is where Bee Movie Game begins to falter and lose steam.
First of all, the job trials are extremely repetitive mini-games that are not going to hold anyone's attention for too long. While they initially enhance the title's presentation, they become very old very quick. Kids and "Bee Movie" fans alike aren't going to want to play these repetitive mini-games just to reach the main chapters of the game, which are the best part. Each job has about 10 or more job trials that are scattered throughout New Hive City.
If you have to pass these job trials in order to proceed to the good parts of Bee Movie Game, you would hope that you could find these trials easily, right? Unfortunately, you won't because of the start screen's horrendous map. It doesn't have a legend to explain exactly what is on the map, there is no option to select a spot and have a navigation arrow point you in the right direction, and the radar that is apparent on the main screen is no help, either. Performing the simple yet redundant job tasks might not have been such a chore if it were not such a chore to find them.
Even though Bee Movie Game suffers from a few flaws, once you get into the main course of the game, you'll be happy that you did. Cut scenes involving voice acting and replica scenes from the movie are just as good as the film itself, and thankfully give the game its own identity, which feels more like a bonus stage of the movie license instead of an unfortunate add-on. You'll replay most of the movie's most memorable scenes, from riding a tennis ball as you're volleyed back and forth by two players, or riding along with the Pollen Jocks on their quest to pollinate flowers all over the town.
The controls in the game are hit and miss. Flying around takes a bit of practice, as instinctively, most may think that the triggers are mapped to acceleration and deceleration, like most games, but Bee Movie Game has the triggers dedicated to sucking up pollen from flowers and pollinating dying ones, while the A and X buttons are used for motion. The option for inverted flying is present if desired, but flying still did not feel as comfortable as hoped, especially because it wasn't comfortable steering Barry B. Benson and turning the camera, either. Aside from flying, the real-time button sequences are complemented with real-time analog sequences that help you dodge kids tossing Frisbees while you're flying, or buzzing your way out of an angry person's attempt to smash you with a boot before you're flattened.
As previously mentioned, this is a game targeted towards children and anyone who was a fan of the movie. With saying that, the flaws within Bee Movie Game do not take away from the overall experience of Bee Movie Game. Sharp graphics, solid presentation and voice acting make this game pop off the television screen in the same way its movie counterpart did on the big screen.
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