Movie Games: ELF (2003)

Welcome the second edition of Movie Games a series where we look at a film and then its video game counterparts to not only discuss a games quality but how accurate of an adaptation it is.

In this Christmas episode I will be deep diving into the the 2003 comedy film ELF starring Will Ferrell, this movie only had one videogame adaptation releasing on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance the same year as the film.

First a Recap of the movie and I wont be shy on spoilers so be wary!

On Christmas Eve a baby from an orphanage crawls into Santa’s Sack and is taken to the North Pole, an older Elf agrees to raise the baby and 30 years later the now adult and much taller Buddy is struggling to fit in with the elves, he finds out he is a human and decides to travel to New York City to find his real father Walter Hobbs.

Buddy passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Upon arrival in New York Buddy is searching everywhere for his Father, causing havoc along the way, eating discarded gum, running around evolving doors and jumping across zebra crossings.

He finds his father in the Empire state building but is soon thrown out after Security is called by Walter Hobbs himself, the security sarcastically suggests Buddy goes back to Gimbels.

Taking the request literally Buddy goes into the department store and is mistaken for an employee of Santa’s Village here he meets the friendly but unenthusiastic Jovie, Buddy is so excited for Santa coming to visit the store that he stays behind over night to decorate the store. The next morning Santa comes to the store but its an imposter, Buddy rips off his beard and a fight ensues, Buddy is arrested but bailed out by Walter Hobbs who takes him to a doctor for a DNA test which proves a positive match!

Walter reluctantly takes his Son home to meet his wife Emily and his other son Michael, Walter doesn’t warm up to Buddy as quickly as Emily does and wants to throw him out onto the streets but Emily insists that Buddy stays with them until he recovers from his fantasies.

Buddy soon becomes a friend of Michael after he defeats his school bullies in an epic snowball fight, the two mess around the Gimbles department store and bump into Jovie, Michael encourages Buddy to ask her out and she says yes, after the date goes really well Buddy runs to his dads works to tell him that he is in love not knowing that world renowned author Miles Finch is there.

Finch who is short in stature is mistaken for an Elf by Buddy and his extremely offended walking out on his deal with Walter, Walter in a rage tells buddy to stay out of his life, buddy leaves and writes a goodbye letter to his family, while making his way back through New York City he spots Santa’s Sleigh crashed at Central Park, the Sleigh runs on Christmas Spirit but it had finally ran out and Santa asks Buddy to help him get it back.

Meanwhile Walter is now in another meeting with the CEO of the company after he finds Miles Finches notebook which is full of ideas, Michael bursts in and emotionally convinces Walter to choose family over work losing his job in the process, Walter and Michael find buddy in Central Park, the two makeup and help Buddy with his mission, Walter dresses as Santa to try and divert the Park Rangers while Michael takes Santa’s list and reads it on live TV convincing viewers of Santa’s existence.

Jovie remembers when Buddy told her “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” and begins singing Santa Claus is coming to town, the New Yorkers all join in and even Walter gets in on the action finally giving the sleigh enough power to fly again. In the finale we see Buddy spending Christmas with his family and the following year visiting his Papa Elf in the North Pole along with his Wife Jovie and their baby Susie, a truly happy ending.

The GBA videogame is a 2D platformer and for the most part it controls fine but the game is really bare bones when it comes to its gameplay, this is as generic as 2D platformers can get.

I will give some props to the game for adding various goals into some stages such as collecting all of Christmas Lights and the letters to spell NEWYORK.

Other stages are designed as either top down platformers or minigames, the worst of these stages is easily jumping across the Icebergs, this stage had really bad issues with landing, in most cases you would hit the water when you had definitely landed on the iceberg but because it wasn’t centred the game took that as a miss, the stage is very long and at some points the platforms you need land on are moving which makes it even worse.

Jumping is very floaty in the game in all platforming levels, the iceberg was definitely the worst offender but some other simple platforming such as jumping over the polar bears also proved to be needlessly difficult at times.

The minigame stages are all fine but very generic and extremely easy, examples of what to expect are the usual repeat the button presses, link up the pipes and hit the targets, minigame staples that we see in almost any game.

I’m not going to criticise the game on being generic as that’s almost expected from this, what I will criticise however is how lazy this adaptation actually is they use screenshots from the movie with no dialogue text to give players any idea on what is going on and to top this off the levels are not even accurate to movie.

Small errors such as the snowball fight including elves instead of school bullies,a lack of Walter Hobbs and his family (minus one screenshot at the end of the game) levels with plots including collecting Christmas lights, helping Santa deliver presents and a very small number of movie screenshots which no context make me wonder if this was released either before the movie or developed by a team who had no idea of the plot, needless to say its a pretty lame game and an even worse movie adaptation.

The soundtrack is awful we are only given some very simple audio loops or really bad chiptunes of Christmas songs just another another way to rush development and give the game even less originality.

This Christmas watch the movie but do yourself a favour and skip the GBA game!

2.7/10

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ICO (2001) Review

Developed by Japan Studio and Team ICO, this game while it now holds a cult following did not meet sales expectations upon its original release, it would later go on to inspire the vast superior Shadow of the Colossus and one of my personal favourite games. I never had a chance to check this one out until recently and I was curious to see what I missed out on.

A young boy with horns is slowly dragged into a deserted castle high on the cliffs to be sacrificed to the Shadow Queen, for centuries children who grow horns have been locked away here and left to starve to death but luckily for Ico he manages to escape from his tomb and with the help of Yorda a Princess of light and they both work together to escape the castle and its labyrinth inspired walls.

The game is unusual for its lack of conventional video game design it has very little focus on combat and player deaths are few and far between, the main aspect is puzzle solving where you need to interact with the castles mechanical engineering, blow open doors and pull levers in order to adjust areas that Yorda is able to climb and to allow her to traverse along the same paths as the much braver Ico.

Yorda is able to use her light to open otherwise inaccessible doors and pathways so keeping her safe is a must, at set moments in the story shadow creatures will grab the Princess and drag her into the darkness, if this happens Ico will turn to stone and die instantly.

These creatures can be defeated by hitting them with a stick or even better a sword, another way is to simply grab Yordas hand and run to a nearby light blocked door, this will kill all shadows in the area but the likely hood of a door even being available is rare and this can only be done in select moments during the story.

Yorda moves very slowly throughout the game which can be frustrating at times, I spent the majority of my playthrough holding her hand so she was forced to run but this can only be done on ground and near the very end of the game due to a story progression it becomes near impossible to run with her as she will keep tripping over.

In essence the best way I can describe the gameplay is that it is almost like a giant Zelda Dungeon with much easier combat and some ways easier puzzle solutions but difficulty is not what the developers had in mind while creating this game.

This is more of an interactive story than it is a action-adventure game as some may call this, the game is pretty easy including its final boss fight, without a health bar or a heads up display dying seems to be less important as Ico doesnt seem to have much of a threat, in fact to my knowledge the shadows can cant hurt him and only really go for Yorda, he can be taken out with basic platforming mistakes but thats about it.

I think this works in the games favour as it makes it stand out and to be honest I think if they did focus more on this being more than an interactive story the game would have had much less of an impact because it wouldn’t hold a candle to other Action-Adventure games of the time.

Graphically the game is very impressive for an early PS2 title and it has a great use of darkness and basic design to help emphasise the eerie sense of being lost in the castle halls, the few outside meadow areas which are safe from the shadows are much more relaxing in design and its rendering of the castle from such a height for example from the top of cliffs to the waters below would have taken a lot of development work in the PS2’s early stages.

Ico’s soundtrack is very limited which works well with the basic game play level design and narrative while traversing the castle and its many yards you will be lucky to find any music which adds to the lonely and rather empty atmosphere of Ico and Yordas journey and any music we do get is basic so it doesn’t take away from the narrative that is being told, a genius decision from composer  Michiru Oshima and is something I would like to see inspiring more games in the future.

Ico is a fantastic game and for what it was aiming to achieve it did a fantastic job of giving us an all around simple game with its story, gameplay and soundtrack but while this is outstanding in many ways and I do truly love the game its simplicity also leads to its biggest downfall.

The game is very short coming in at around 6 and a half hours for a first playthrough, there isnt even any collectibles or much replay value apart from maybe aiming faster completion times which may seem like nit picking for a game that is now 22 years old but we wouldn’t take kindly to a new PS5 game selling at full price and being this short with no side content so why should a PS2 game from 2001 get the exception bearing in mind people would have paid out the nose if they pre-ordered this back then.

Overall Ico is a game well worth playing, at the moment it is included as part of Playstations Classic catalogue and if you are subscribed to the service I recommend giving it a go

8.5/10

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Yooka-Laylee (2017) Review

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Yooka- Laylee is a 3D platformer- Adventure game that was developed by Platonic Games a team of Developers that used to work for Rare Ware. Yooka-Laylee was crowd funded on kick-starter as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.

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After stealing a magical book from our protagonists an overly corrupt business Bee and his Duck head henchman want to collect all of the worlds books to gain enough literary knowledge to take over the world leaving Yooka the lizard and Laylee the bat to collect all of the pagies and defeat Capital B.

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The main game takes place in a series of different themed lands which each hold various collectables including pages of the book, quills, four ghosts, a play coin for playing arcade games, a power extender, a health extender and a molly cool to unlock a transformation.

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There are many moves you unlock in the game from a snake named Trowzer, these are paid for with the quills you collect, the most useful move is definitely the roll mechanic which allows Yooka and Laylee to move a lot faster and also to manoeuvre specific surfaces that cannot be climbed otherwise.

Other moves that really stand out in this game are the Bubble.

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This ability allows Yooka and Laylee to walk underwater without having to worry about running out of oxygen.

The Slurp Shot

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Later on in the game you can purchase the slurp ability allowing Yooka to lick specific items to temporarily gain their unique abilities.

Flappy Flight

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Flappy Flight makes adventuring really fun as it allows them to fly for a long distance, it is a lot of fun to use and makes the final world Galleon Galaxy really satisfying to search through.

These are my personal favourite moves in the games, however this is only scratching the surface as there are a lot more in the game, the moves I have not gone into detail here are.

Sonar Shot, Buddy Slam, Glide, Lizard Leap, Lizard Lash, Camo Cloak, Sonar Splosion, and Sonar Shield.

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The worlds are really fun to explore and the missions needed to gain the pagies are some of the games highlights. I cant pick out the ones I enjoyed the most because I loved all of them equally, there was a nice variety in things to do and what skills were needed to commit to some of the pagies, a few of them are actually very difficult and take a lot of practise.

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There is no denying that the game is absolutely gorgeous with its charming visuals and vast worlds, I love exploring the large worlds especially once you have expanded them  however this does have some impact on the frustration of collecting everything because they are all very spread out.

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Each world has one transformation that you can unlock, you use these transformations to collect specific items in the game, I enjoyed all of these but my favourite was the helicopter as it was needed for a large chunk of its level, all of the other transformations were only really needed once or twice and I wish they were implemented for more use in their stages.

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I also was not a fan of the arcade machines as I felt the pagies for them felt out of place and they interrupted the consistency of my run of each world, these work a lot better as part of a multiplayer experience but I do wish they were not in the main campaign.

The music in the game was composed by composing legend Grant Kirkhope who is well known for classic Nintendo 64 games from Rare Ware, the music here is excellent and uses the bouncy and fun style that Kirkhope is known for.

Yooka-Laylee is a really good game and in my opinion it was successful in its goal of being a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, these days unless you are playing Nintendo or one of a few indie titles the 3D platformer is essentially dead and Yooka-Laylee is a sign that they can still successful in this day and age with the correct team developing them.

8.8/10

Thank you for reading my review of Yooka-Laylee for the PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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Rayman Origins (2011) (PS3,360,Wii,Vita,3DS,PC) Review

2530004-the_wacky_world_of_rayman_origins_by_cuddlesnowy-d4oli36It had been 11 years since a proper Rayman game had been released and for the longest time fans of the series accepted that Rayman was essentially dead and we just had to accept that those bloody Rabbids had taken over, but in November of 2011 we were all surprised and shocked when a new Rayman title hit retail store shelves.

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Rayman and his friends are chilling out and having a nap at the Snoring Tree, however they are snoring so loudly that they disturb the living corpse of an old woman in the Underworld which in this game is called the Land of the Livid Dead, in retaliation the old woman sends an army of nasty creatures to Raymans world, these creatures capture all of the Electoons and trap Betilla the Nymph (Not a fairy yet) and her sisters, of course Rayman manages to escape and its up to him to rescue all of the Nymphs and the Electoons so he can get back to his nap.

6936403695_fbcac3330f_bI was very pleased when I found out that Rayman was going back to being a 2D platformer because we haven’t one of those on a home console since the original and that came out in 1995, however the gameplay does differ from the original game and in Rayman Origins case that is a good thing, first of all you do not need to collect all of the Electoons in the game to face the final boss however there is another collectible in the game called Ruby Teeth and if you manage to find all 10 you will gain access to the Land of the Livid Dead which contains a bunch of secret levels and a secret boss, the game has 10 main worlds and each contain a bunch of levels and half of the worlds contain a boss fight, the majority of the levels consist of fast paced platforming where your goal is get from point A to point B as fast as you can while hunting for Electoons along the way.

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Some stages bring back our Mosquito friend from previous installments and he helps carry Rayman through side-scrolling, shooting segments, there are a lot more of these here than there were in the original game but they are a little bit easier which I think was a nice touch because lets be honest in the original Rayman they were much too difficult.

672667-rayman-origins-windows-screenshot-chasing-the-treasure-chestIn order to collect those Ruby Teeth I mentioned earlier you will need to complete a treasure chase stage and I hope your good at platformers because these are really tough to beat, you will need to sprint,jump and swim your way through all of these levels, they are side-scrollers that scroll really fast and you will need really quick reactions in order to survive each one, they last around 2-3 minutes long and if you die you go back to the start of the level every time.

You can play the game as multiple characters but honestly I didn’t find that any of them appealed more to myself than Rayman and a lot of the unlockable characters are just re- skins, these characters are not just for one person though as the game can be played with up to four players which is really cool and is a first for a Rayman Campaign.

 

This game without a doubt has the best soundtrack to any Rayman game I have yet to play, the music is upbeat and fun so it always keeps you wanting to carry on playing, every track has its own personality and the composers have used different instruments in every track to help shape its uniqueness and general quality, I have linked the entire soundtrack above so please feel free to check it out and I promise you wont regret it.

ubisoft_rayman_origins_09Rayman has had a re-design and I know a lot of people really like it but personally I do prefer how he looked in the first game however the world around him I really enjoyed looking at, the artistic detail is outstanding and the team behind the visuals need a reward for how fantastic this game looks, it honestly feels like you playing though a cartoon and with the games sense of humor and smooth gameplay it only goes to show how great a proper Rayman animated series could be, and yes I am aware that there was one in the past but like many people I don’t like to talk about it but maybe I will write a review of it at some point to show you just how insulting it actually was.

Rayman Origins is a great game which is to be expected with all of the praise it received upon its release, I had a blast playing through this game and I think anyone else would as well even if this is your introduction to the series, its not quite as difficult as the first Rayman game but it is still very challenging and is a promising renewal of the Rayman series, the only thing stopping this getting full marks is that the unlockable characters were not very special considering that they are your reward for beating all of the challenges including time trials and collecting all of the Golden Toons.

9.7/10

and yes a Rayman 3 review will be coming at some point

I hope you enjoyed this review of Rayman Origins

 

If you respect my opinion, I will respect yours

you can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Rayman (1995) (Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, PS1, GBA, PC) Review

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The recent Rayman games Origins and Legends have gotten a lot of praise since they have been released and they are very popular among both old and new fans of the series, I recently ordered a copy of Rayman 2 and I’m still waiting on that to arrive and while I am waiting I figured it would be a good idea to revisit the original game and too see if it still holds up today.

 

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Rayman has a fairly simple plot, Mr Dark steals a ball of energy called the Great Protoon, due to the Great Protoon being taken away smaller balls of energy called the Electoons are scattered across the land and are stuffed into cages by Mr Dark’s minions, a local magician calls upon Rayman to find and rescue all of the Electoons and to defeat Mr Dark returning the Great Protoon back to its resting place.

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Rayman is an action/adventure platformer with a twist, your job is not too simply get to the end of each stage but too also find and rescue six Electoons in every level.

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This may seem like a farily easy task but I guarantee that this will be one of the most difficult games you have ever played, Rayman has no mercy not only are the majority of the cages hidden in ridiculous locations but most of them require you to find small sparks in order to make the cages appear and these sparks are very easy to miss due to their small size, for example one stage requires the player to jump off a cliff to a cloud below, they then need to crawl under a small spike covered roof and then fight a rock troll only to be brought to a dead end, the player will need to walk to the left wall and look up they will then see the spark which they must jump up to grab, they now need to back track to the top of the cliff where the cage will be waiting.

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Not only is getting the cages difficult but the general game play will also provide quite a challenge, the world that surrounds Rayman may seem innocent but almost everything is out to kill you, Mr Dark’s Minions are not too dangerous as most of the time they can be taken out with a couple of punches, the biggest threat is the environment I tended to be killed the most by pitfalls and spikes as this is a very difficult platformer which requires precise jumps and good reflexes in order for you too survive.

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But fear not as a fairy called Betilla will help Rayman through out his quest by occasionally giving him new powers.

  • Telescopic fist: This ability allows Rayman to attack his enemies by literally throwing his fist.
  • Hanging: This ability allows Rayman to hang off of ledges, this is very useful for helping rayman reach far platforms as well as avoiding enemy attacks
  • Grappling Fist: This ability allows Rayman to swing from these floating pink and red rings, some sections of the game require this ability to complete
  • Helicopter: This ability allows Rayman to hover temporarily
  • Running: This ability allows Rayman to sprint

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Rayman does have its fair share of Boss fights, all of these battles are very creative and each is unique in how it attacks and how it can be defeated, my favorite battle is against the Mosquito in world 1.

With a game as difficult as this tight and responsive controls are extremely important, luckily Rayman’s controls are perfect, the game runs smoothly with responsive controls so if you die it will always be your fault no matter how difficult the game gets.

Graphically the game looks outstanding, the game goes for a cartoon style look and it really pays off, it suits the silly atmosphere of the game perfectly some of the finer details really help the game feel more realistic than it needs too which is a nice touch, while playing you will notice plants blowing in the wind and when Rayman steps on a light platform you can see the effect that his weight has on those platforms, these days such small details may not seem too special but for a game that came out over 20 years ago this is very impressive.

Even more impressive is the games soundtrack, this is in my opinion the best part of the game and its definitely what I look forward too the most when I play, you can sense the amount of love that went into every track in the game, almost every world uses a different music style to help fit the atmosphere from the charming and happy music of the first world all the way to the rock and roll soundtrack that accompanies the final boss all of it is amazing.

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The original Rayman is one of the greatest games ever made, sure its hard and it can be a real pain in the butt especially when it comes to collecting all of the cages, but with all that aside you still have a fantastic platformer and if collecting the cages is putting you off playing the game then I recommend you use the cheat to unlock em all because honestly that’s what I usually do as I hate collecting the cages and some of them are just too hard to find which is the games only real flaw.

Different Versions of the game obviously do have some big differences due to console restrictions but if you want to play the game in all its glory I recommend either you pick it up on PS1, PSN or PC, some of the handheld versions of the game are very restrictive but the best version in opinion is the GBA port (Rayman Advance), its lacking in the awesome soundtrack, and a few levels are completely missing but apart from that everything is essentially the same and I recommend picking it up as its quite cheap.

Rayman still holds up today and is still mostly a fantastic game the only problem is how cryptic getting some of the cages can be, other than that this is a game I highly recommend

8.6/10

I hope you enjoyed this review of Rayman

If you respect my opinion, I will respect yours

you can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com