Some properties don't translate very well into video games, no matter how enjoyable they are in the original format. The movie "Titanic," for example, may be considered a modern classic by some, but very few fans would even entertain the notion that the romantic tale of Jack and Rose could be good material for an interactive endeavor. People still want to try the seemingly impossible and make a video game out of any and every hot property on the market. Such is the case with Beastly, which is a modern retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story; it was critically acclaimed as a book and was just turned into a major motion picture. Storm City Games and Visual Impact decided to make a video game tie-in on the Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately, they proved that some things can't ever be translated into video game form.
While you are playing through the events of the movie, you're not exactly playing as any of the main characters. At the beginning of the game, you choose to be either a male of female student enrolled in the same high school as the main characters. You play through the whole story from beginning to end as a side character, but you'll often find yourself helping out the main characters with things such as counting votes or practicing their golf swing in various minigames. In between each activity, you can log into the school's social network to receive rewards and check up on the story as it's told through the major characters.
The game is split into two gameplay types, but neither the adventure portion nor the minigames provide any fun. The "adventure" portions require you to travel from one spot to another to do menial tasks, such as pulling fire alarms or arriving at spots to take pictures. None of the activities make you feel involved, and waiting in line in a video game makes it feel like the developer was grasping for straws when coming up with the design. Meanwhile, the minigames are either too simple or aren't well thought out. There's always a generous amount of time given to each activity, so it takes plenty of effort to fail a task. Some, like the rhythm minigame, fail to take into account other elements of the game, so you're hitting buttons and doing activities with no consequence. The rhythm minigame has you pushing buttons in time, but the music doesn't match the rhythm at all.
The only solace to enduring all of this is the rewards, which consist of still pictures and short clips from the movie. You'll get plenty of still pictures and movie clips for doing just about anything in the game, whether it's completing tasks or completing minigames. While the pictures aren't bad, the movie clips are a bit questionable. Some are good at conveying the movie's plot while others are too short or inconsequential to be of any value. Completing a minigame, for example, rewards the user with a short 10-second clip of one of the film environments.
Along with the game design, the controls solidify the argument that this game is more of an upscaled DS title than one made for Nintendo's home console. The minigame portions have some good, if not basic, controls, but there are a few times when input lag causes you to lose a few points that you would have otherwise gained. The adventure portions compensate for the game's need to only have the Wii Remote by having you point to your destination while holding down the B button to move there. It's a scheme commonly used on Nintendo DS games, not Wii games, so to see it used here makes the mechanic feel out of place.
The graphics demonstrate a very Spartan approach to what can be done on the Wii. Character models look bland, and it looks as if there was barely any kind of effort made to have the major characters look like their film counterparts. Your character doesn't look good or sport any distinctive features, making you as unrecognizable as the rest of the crowd. The animations are fine but not exactly a high point worth discussing. The minigames expose the worst aspects of the graphics engine with bad camera placement and minimal details. Strangely enough, even the movie rewards are presented incorrectly, with widescreen film clips being presented off-center. You'll see more black space on the top and less on the bottom, so you'll wonder if there's something wrong with your TV set. Though the Wii has seen games with far worse graphical presentations, Beastly doesn't make the case that the system can produce good stuff as well.
The game demonstrates the most bare-bones use of sound. The sound effects are minimal, though not always on point. Walking slowly, for example, provides the same effect as normal walking, and it throws off the sound sync with the animation. The same musical pieces repeat over and over again to grating effect — sometimes doing so over the movie clips that you're trying to watch. Worse yet, the music is loud enough at its default level that it drowns out every other sound in the game. As for voices, there are none except for the ones used in the movie clips, resulting in an even more lifeless experience.
Beastly certainly lives up to its name. It looks bad, sounds mediocre, and has controls that are better suited to another system. The minigames feel like they were put together at the last minute, and they feel like chores. While the rewards for going through some of the tasks are nice, most feel unsatisfying once you've unlocked them. Unless you're enough of a die-hard fan to need every possible piece of Beastly merchandise, the best thing to do is to skip this game entirely.
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