Publisher: Zoo Games
Release Date: December 3, 2008
I had previously reviewed M&Ms Adventure for the Wii, and I wasn't exactly kind with the final results. Having the DS game in hand now, I can't say that I'm going to be particularly kind with this version of the game either. It's pretty much a carbon copy of the Wii title, and while the simplified DS controls are definitely better than the Wii setup, it still has the same failings, and unfortunately, this iteration doesn't do anything to make use of the DS' unique system capabilities.
If you missed out on the Wii review, I'll give you a simple rundown of what this game is about. We've all seen the myriad of TV ads for M&Ms in the past, where the cute animated pieces of candy get into silly situations, and to be fair, it's a pretty cool ad campaign. The merchandising for these characters has really taken off in the past decade, and you can't walk down a holiday aisle at the local supermarket without seeing some type of M&M logo, character or other related item being used to promote the next holiday. M&Ms Adventure takes this idea and runs with it, with each level being based on a particular holiday, like Valentine's Day or Christmas. Even the boss fights are based on holiday characters, like Cupid, and it's pretty easy to see why the developers decided to go with this idea.
When you first start M&Ms Adventure, you might think that it's a decent 3-D platformer, all things considered. It definitely feels that way at first, with some easy-to-navigate paths, decent level design and a limited number of enemies that you can simply hop on to destroy. You're most likely not expecting much in the first place, so anything that resembles a decent game might get more of a pass than usual. However, as you advance through the game, you'll realize what a tedious exercise it is, and how the basic mechanics of jumping and collecting are taken to a near extreme here. If you thought titles like Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 were focused on collecting items, just wait till you try to gather up all the coins and candy pieces in this chore of a game.
As the title begins, you'll play as one of the three main candy pieces represented in the commercials, Red. He has a pretty basic set of controls, so you simply hop around; you can occasionally outfit him with a pair of wings so he can glide from one section to the next, but these are more like required bits of the level rather than some type of freeform movement in the game. The idea is that something has gone amiss at the candy factory at which these guys work, and they need to fix things before the Christmas holiday starts. You're frantically trying to gather up the missing candy pieces while dodging the various robot staff members that are trying to clean up and getting in your way.
The enemies are pretty basic, and they're awfully repetitive here. The regular ground enemies are easy to deal with, since you can dodge them, hop on them to stun them, or just take them out permanently. The flying enemies, however, are a bigger pain. Your character lacks any real type of attack, so you must try to avoid them, but the camera isn't always cooperative when you're jumping from platform to platform, and it can be pretty hard to see the bad guys coming if you're not already at the correct angle. You can adjust the camera a bit by pressing and holding down the L or R buttons on the DS, but it's really slow to respond and pretty hard to manage while jumping or running around. There are plenty of frustrating sections that involve being knocked off of platforms numerous times, simply because you didn't see that flying guy before you made the jump. Even if you did see him, there's little you could do to stop him, since they have an uncanny ability of homing in on you regardless of how quickly you get out of their way.
Once you collect a certain number of candy pieces, you'll unlock more levels that are accessed from a central hub location, along with two other characters, Yellow and Green, who come equipped with their unique set of skills. Yellow is probably the most useful of the three, since he can double-jump, but there are certain levels, or parts of levels, that make use of each one's particular skills. These spots are usually indicated with a button that displays the desired character, letting you know when and where to use each one. To collect all of the candy pieces within a given level, you'll usually have to make use of all three, requiring multiple playthroughs of each level. Since the game isn't all that fun to begin with, this aspect just really hammers home the tedious nature of the whole deal.
The only real highlight, like the Wii version, is that some of the level design is pretty good, enemies aside. A lot of stages are pretty large, with some interesting setups that would be fun to explore and check out if the controls were more precise and the overall mechanics were more fun to use. The title isn't worth checking out just to see these, but it's a shame to know that the game could have been decent, if everything had only meshed together better than it currently does.
I can't really recommend M&Ms Adventure for the DS to action/adventure or platforming fans because it's a pretty aggravating experience, and I never really had any fun with it. Sure, the level designs occasionally look pretty cool, but actually playing through them feels like a chore. Even if you're a big fan of the characters, don't expect much with this one, since the limited graphics don't allow their personalities to shine, and there's no voice-over work to allow for any comedy. Just about any character could stand in for the three M&Ms used here, and aside from the name and setting, there's not much to associate it with the commercial characters.