Birds fly, fish swim, grass grows, and THQ releases movie tie-in games. As recently as last year, I'd imagine Rio: The Game would've been a 3-D action-platformer that roughly tracked the arc of the movie's plot, as is the typical licensed title. Instead, it's now a four-player party game, with the single-player content taking the form of a score-based challenge against three AI-driven opponents.
It's probably not a bad call. Some of the minigames are distinctly stronger than others — the air hockey game is actually pretty fun, while "Dodgem" is about one step above something that'd have shipped on a cell phone in 1999 — but I could see a bunch of kids having fun with Rio. That alone puts it one step above a lot of movie tie-ins, which are often about as fun as math homework.
Rio is, in the broad strokes, the story of Blu, a member of a rare species of macaw. He lives a quiet life in a bookstore in Moose Lake, Minnesota, until somebody realizes he's the last surviving male of his species. Blu is promptly shipped off to Rio de Janeiro to meet the last known surviving female, Jewel, and wackiness ensues.
You can play Rio as Blu, Nico the canary, Rafael the toucan or Pedro the cardinal, who compete against each other in a bunch of minigames. As noted above, the "Story" mode puts you down on one end of a map, starting in Moose Lake, and you must perform well against three AI opponents in order to progress. Moose Lake's games are all snow-themed, like a snowball fight, ice hockey, or dodging snowballs as they roll down a slippery roof, and if you place in first or second against the AI, you can move on to further locations from the movie.
The other minigames can be played more directly in Party or Carnaval modes, which are a straight-up single- to multiplayer tournament mode, with a randomly chosen assortment of games. This includes a mud fight where the winner is the first to get clean, divebombing monkeys with watermelons, playing "hot potato" with a bomb, and a "king of the mountain"-ish game where everyone gets pelted with beach balls and the last bird standing wins.
"Rio" is the next film from Carlos Saldanha, the guy who brought us the "Ice Age" movies, and Rio: The Game brings a lot of the music, color and humor of the movie along for the ride. In the great spirit of licensed games everywhere, its connection to the film is occasionally somewhat tenuous, but it's a reasonably entertaining kids' game with great presentation and no real learning curve.
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