With warm weather just around the corner, the film industry is preparing for their biggest time of the year: Summer. While the summer houses a barrage of blockbuster titles, a lot of movie studios sneak in some Spring releases in order to grab an early hold on the consumer attention the summer movie season brings. One of this year’s early birds (pun intended) is 20th Century Fox’s Rio. The animated feature from Blue Sky Studios is poised to be one of this year’s big children’s films. As the past has shown us, with every new kids’ movies comes the corresponding kids’ video game, and Rio is no different. THQ has secured the rights to create a line of video games based on the Rio-name and is producing versions for nearly every platform available. Gaming Nexus was recently given a chance to sit down with a preview build of the Xbox 360 version to see how the game is shaping up.
THQ’s take on Rio takes all of the characters from the film and puts them together in a collection of mini-games centered around Carnaval. Players will be able to play through a variety of modes including a campaign and various party modes that will put them up against three opponents, be it the computer or friends. Friends can drop in and out of the action at any time. Players will select their character from one of 6 choices, each representing the major persona's from the movie:Blu, Jewel, Pedro, Raphael, Eva, and Nico. Each character / bird has their own personality and associated animations but none offer an advantage over the others in terms of their actual performance within the game(s).
Once players select their avatar, they can then choose to enter into one of the included modes, all of which offer the same variety of mini-games. There will be more than 40 different mini-games included in the final retail product and I got a chance to sample about half of them. Most of the games consisted of the standard party-game fair such as the expected racing and object avoidance levels. A couple of the games that stood out to me during my time were:
- You’re It!- This game consisted of a modified version of the children’s game of tag. One player is given a jar of honey and must tag other player to pass it along and then avoid being “tagged” back; whoever has the jar when the bees are released gets stung and loses a life point. Once all of your life points are drained (three), you are eliminated. Different power ups and abilities appear on the map over time which make players faster or slow down their competition. As simple as this sounds, I found this game to be a lot of fun when playing with my daughter; there was a lot more strategy involved than just dodging and weaving your pursuer(s). There are different objects in the environment which allow make the chase more complicated when used properly.
- Ice Hockey- It’s four player pong... simple and fun. Each player guards a quadrant of the screen and moves their bird back and forth deflecting pucks that are headed into their areas. Just as with the ‘You’re It’ game, players are given a set amount of life points and once depleted, they are eliminated. As time goes on, the pucks move faster and increase in quantity.
- Wash Your Worries Away- Players run around collecting mud balls which can be thrown at other players. Every so often, random geysers will spew from the ground which wash players off and award points depending on how much mud has been collected by the player. This was another fast and furious game that we had a blast with...
Even though there were many more game types included than I have listed, these were some of the memorable ones that we had the best time with. All of the included games are simple and easy to pick up, even for the younger kids in your family and naturally, some are more entertaining than others. This isn’t a game that die-hard gamers will get into on their own, but rather something that can be used to bring the family together for some quality time around the console(s). I spent my time playing through with my daughter and niece; while my niece is older, my daughter is only 3 but was able to pick up on many of the games and play just as well as we were. She even managed to win one of the games outright, which pleased her to no end.Since the setting of the game is based around the festival of Carnaval, all of the expected sights and sounds are included. The musical score in particular is very well done, featuring festive and native tunes that are as moving as they are beautiful. The game uses a very animated, cartoon style for its graphics which brings nearly every aspect of the environment(s) to life. There are even clips from the actual movie sprinkled in occasionally which add to the storytelling element weaved into the game to integrate the plot of the film.
Whether the “hardcore” likes to admit it or not, there is a place in our industry for games like this and THQ is hitting a sweet spot with this title. The kids who I played with had an absolute blast which in turn made it a lot of fun for me. There are a lot of party game compilations available in our industry but this one definitely ranks among the top in both its presentation and gameplay. THQ is playing it very smart with Rio by offering the title at a discount compared to the industry’s standard pricing, which just may secure a moderate level of success on its own. Once kids see the movie, which launches into theaters next week as well, they are sure to get even more out of the game as the characters and settings become more familiar to them after a trip to the theater.
Rio launches next week on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii. A nintendo DS version will also be available but will be based more around dancing and as it is a musical platformer. All versions will sell for $29.99 regardless of platform. We may just have to add this one to the collection in our house...