Release Date: November 5, 2007
Seeing as how "Bee Movie" was released quite a while ago, you might need a slight refresher course on the film plot, since the game story follows it fairly closely. The protagonist is Barry B. Benson, voiced by comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld (who also wrote the screenplay), and the majority of the film takes place in New York City. The overall plot involves Barry as a worker in a local hive, with the lives of the bee populace mirror a standard human work environment. Barry ends up breaking through his humdrum daily routine to experience the outside world and ends up coming into contact with a friendly human named Vanessa, which more or less kicks off the film.
As a large-scale CGI movie intended for children, there was bound to be a video game tie-in, and Bee Movie Game for the Wii is one of the major console releases, with 21 different missions set in a sandbox environment. It's not quite Grand Theft Auto for kids, but the game probably owes a bit of its creation to the Rockstar series.
As you begin your life in New Hive City, you'll find it populated with quite a few citizens who you can interact with, along with various time-killing mini-games in addition to the story-based missions that follow the film plot. There's even a bit of a character creation system in place, where you can win various items for Barry, which helps add a bit of life to the game for younger fans who enjoy collecting and customizing the title character.
Bee Movie Game is intended to appeal to the younger crowd. The level of challenge is pretty low, and the script closely mirrors the humor and style of the film, so adults will have a bit of difficulty getting a lot of enjoyment out of this game.
That's not to say that the gameplay is dull or even really repetitive. Even within the story-based missions, the Bee Movie Game does a pretty solid job of changing up the experiences a player will have, with a variety of missions that go beyond simple "collect X amounts of pollen" archetypes. Instead, it tries to introduce a variety of different level compositions to keep the action from getting stale.
For instance, there's a series of Quick Time Events in various levels that will have you dodging objects laid out in a racetrack fashion, requiring you to react to on-screen prompts that tell you in which direction to move. Since most of the action takes place in the air, this isn't simply an option of going right or left, but also up and down, and as you progress through the stage, things start to get pretty hectic. Some of the mini-games involve smaller-scale missions, a lot of which resemble other mini-games in similar sand box environments. There's even a series of virtual arcade games that you can play in New Hive City, all of which resemble actual classic arcade titles, like Galaga.
The biggest thing working against Bee Movie Game is obviously the title's overall difficulty level for the more experienced gaming crowd, and since everything is pretty easy to accomplish, the lack of challenge automatically makes the gameplay dull, regardless of the different tasks involved. Younger players will definitely stay engaged for a bit, but it won't hold the interest of older players for long.
As far as the graphics go, Bee Movie Game won't really do much to impress anyone outside of the target audience. For the most part, the in-game environments carry a fair amount of detail. Barry's character model is pretty identical to the film version, and the various supporting characters also manage to look like their movie counterparts. However, there are some definite compression problems with the Wii iteration when it comes to the movie clips used to introduce most of the levels; this becomes a glaring issue when compared to the game's other releases. This is the same problem that I encountered with the Transformers movie tie-in, and I'm not sure why it's difficult to nail down the video on the DVD format. Since Bee Movie Game likes to start off the levels with these clips and then tries to blend them with the actual gameplay when the level starts, it becomes aggravating to watch early on.
On the sound side of things, the voice acting bears a striking resemblance to the film, and even if not all of movie actors provided voices for their video game counterparts, they all sound similar enough. There's also a surprising amount of voice work to be heard here, and the developers didn't shy away by using dialogue boxes very often, instead opting to keep everything in tune with the film presentation whenever possible.
As far as comparisons go with other versions of the game, the Wii version reviewed here has a few additions and subtractions, mostly when compared to the Xbox 360 title. The Wii version of Bee Movie Game adds in three more racetracks and four more mini-games, but it lacks the online leaderboard support that the 360 has with Live. In fact, there are no online modes to speak of in the entire game, but there is support for two players with the same console when it comes to the various mini-games you can unlock.
The controls for the Wii version aren't anything that we haven't seen before, with a standard Wiimote/Nunchuk setup. Most of the attacks are performed by waggling the Wiimote in various directions, while most of the movement is controlled with the Nunchuk accessory. It's a pretty standard control scheme for most of the action/adventure Wii titles, and while I'd like to see a bit more imagination applied to the motion controls, it works well enough and feels responsive whenever you need it to be.
Bee Movie Game will provide a satisfying experience to younger fans of the film, but it'll fail to hold the interest of older players for a prolonged amount of time. Everything feels in place, but nothing stands out when it comes to the gameplay, graphics or sound. It's not a bad game by any means, but it's definitely not anything special either.
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