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Wii Review - 'M&Ms Adventure'

by Dustin Chadwell on Feb. 20, 2009 @ 1:56 a.m. PST

It's the end of the day at the M&M's Candy Factory, but one packet of candy is missing from the delivery truck! It's your mission to explore each sector of the factory and discover all of the scattered hidden candies in order to make the delivery on time.

Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Zoo Games
Developer: Zoo Games
Release Date: December 3, 2008

M&Ms Adventure is a platforming adventure title for the Wii based on characters from the M&M candy commercials on TV. The license is actually too weak to structure an entire game around, but we've seen stuff like this before, primarily in the NES days with titles like Yo Noid! (of Domino's pizza fame), or M.C. Kids. M&Ms Adventure is generally lacking in fun, and while I think some levels are surprisingly large, the game just isn't very enjoyable to play.

There are three characters to choose from in M&Ms Adventure, but you only start out with Red (the slightly grumpy candy of the same color). Shortly after unlocking the next level, you'll gain the use of Yellow, and eventually the final character, Green. Each character has his own specific ability; Red gains the use of wings that allow him to fly through Pilotwings-like sections, Yellow can double-jump, and Green can use a tennis racket in certain sections. The abilities are usually used to gain access to levels that are otherwise off-limits to other characters; you'll recognize the blocked-off sections when you see an image of a specific M&M character on it.

What this means is that the majority of the stages require some backtracking with each unlocked character, so you'll be forced to retread stages numerous times in order to find all of the missing pieces of candy that the game has tasked you with tracking down. Combine that with the fact that the levels are filled with enemies that you can only avoid but not really destroy, and that the 3-D camera is often frustrating and slow to react, and you'll quickly grow tired of the title's platforming gameplay.

There's a bit of story to back up M&Ms Adventure, and it deals with an M&M factory that's getting ready to close down for Christmas. However, something goes wrong and scatters 120 pieces of candy across different sections of the factory. The crew (Red, Yellow and Green) has to track down each piece before going home for the holidays. For some reason, different sections of the factory are decorated according to various holiday themes, so you'll have stages that are based on Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas, Easter and so on. The themes are generally limited to a few decorations in what is otherwise a fairly Spartan environment. Each area also has its own themed boss, so you'll be facing off against robotic versions of Cupid, the Easter Bunny and so on.

Each section of the factory is run by various robots, which end up being the enemies of the game, since they're not used to interference from the candy guys you're controlling. Each candy member has a small lifebar at the top left of the screen and can take a few hits before dying. However, you won't usually have to worry about it, since there's a liberal amount of health power-ups scattered around each board. You can also gain extra lives easily enough by collecting 100 coins at a time, and there are plenty of coins on each level. The real frustration comes from not being able to fight back, especially when you're trying to perform a jump and get hit by an annoying enemy that interrupts your jump. You can stomp on and temporarily stun the ground-based foes, but you can never actually destroy them. Any flying enemies are apparently invincible, since I've never found a way to take them out, although they'd constantly zero in on me and strike at the most inopportune times.

These enemy attacks would always combine with a frustrating camera angle, and you'll find that you need to constantly hit the C button to flick the camera behind you to get it readjusted, which is really annoying when you're faced with a series of moving platforms, or even worse, exploding ones that require quick jumps. It's definitely difficult to pull off when you're stuck with a difficult camera angle. The entire platforming element is seriously frustrating, and since the game is based on platforming, this shortcoming ends up ruining most of the experience.

While the game levels are generally pretty big and open, the actual art style is bland and kind of cheap. The M&M characters are all animated poorly, with no real facial expressions when moving them around the levels, and it's especially noticeable when they jump (since the jump animation doesn't seem to end until a second or two after they land). It really looks cheap and takes you out of the game when you notice these little missing details. Also, while the stages are all holiday-themed, there's nothing in the way of themed enemies or different platforms based on the type of holiday. Instead, you're stuck with simple pumpkin or heart decorations that adorn certain walls, but have no real purpose other than being something to look at. It's a pretty lackluster way of using holiday themes, and it doesn't add much to each level to help differentiate them between the others.

Along with that, the soundtrack is really forgettable and somewhat annoying to listen to. It's repetitive to the point that you'll end up wanting to switch it off eventually. There's no real voice-over work in this title, which is a shame since the license is already based on animated characters with existing voice-overs.

For the most part, I found M&Ms Adventure to be a pretty disappointing 3-D platformer, and I think that fans of the genre will even agree that it feels pretty bland and uninspired. There are a few scattered levels that have a notable scale to them, but the overall design is boring, and the enemies you're forced to encounter can be frustrating to deal with or work around. The lack of any stand-out abilities or power-ups, aside from a double-jump or a section-specific set of wings, leaves you with a game that consists strictly of jumping from one boring metal platform to the next. As a result, I wouldn't suggest this title even if you have young kids who are fans of the license; regardless of your choices, you'll definitely be better off if you simply select another game.

Score: 4.0/10

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