Welcome to another edition of Movie Games the series where we look at licensed games from the past and see how much they follow the plot of their movie, this time around we will be covering the 2002 classic Ice Age from Blue Sky Studios which had only one videogame for the Gameboy Advance.
But before we dive into that first lets go over the plot of the movie spoilers ahead so beware!
Scrat the Sabertooth Squirrel accidently cracks open the earth and causes a large avalanche which he barely escapes but is trod on by a herd heading south to avoid the forthcoming Ice Age.
A clumsy sloth named Sid wakes up to find he has been abandoned by his family so he moves south by himself, he upsets a pair of rhinos and is recued by a grumpy mammoth named Manny the two continue to travel south together much to Manny’s annoyance.
Meanwhile Soto leader of the saber tooth tigers attacks a human village trying to eat the chiefs baby as an act of revenge for the killing of his pack members, the village is destroyed but the baby is no where in sight, a member of the pack Diego is sent on a personal mission to find the child and bring him to Soto alive and ready for consumption.
Sid and Manny discover the baby and its mother floating in a river, they manage to receive the baby before the mother loses her last strength and drowns.
Diego catches up with the duo and encourages them to give him the baby so he can take him back to his tribe on Half Peak, Manny agrees as long as they all go with Diego leading them so he can be watched.
Our trio continue their adventure across the treacherous and icy land getting into many shenanigans including a water melon fight with Dodo’s and a rather dangerous ice slide.
Eventually they come across cave paintings and one set of a mother and baby Mammoth being murdered by hunters, this turns out to be Manny’s previous family and the reason why he keeps to himself.
At the end of the movie Diego nearly falls to his death in a river of lava but is rescued by Manny, when they arrive at Half Peak, Diego confesses his betrayal and the trio are attacked, Diego takes a near fatal blow during the final battle with the Sabers, Soto is killed instantly when he is impaled with falling icicles causing the rest of his pack to retreat in fear.
Manny and Sid mourn Diego believing him to be dead and finally return the baby to its tribe, Diego joins them afterward when he has more strength.
The trio now closer than ever remain as a pack and walk together towards warmer climates.
In a post credits scene twenty thousand years into the future Scrat is washed up in a block of ice on a deserted island, when he is thawed he manages to find a coconut which he again tries to bury by smashing it into the ground causing the earth to crack and a volcano to erupt…. whoops
now over to the video game adaptation
The game is a fairly standard 2D platformer with players starting at point A and needing to get to point B and normally having to defeat a boss at the end of most levels.
You play the game interchanging between Manny and Sid who each star in their own stages.
Manny sees the most action as he has the majority of levels, his stages are fairly basic in design he moves slowly because of his large size but can use his trunk for both physical attacks and for shooting nuts.
Sid’s stages are side scrollers and they are just awful, the screen moves way too fast to the point where one tiny mistake you will die, you don’t have time to make decisions on how to tackle certain jumps or avoiding enemies and the absolute worst is that you have barely anytime to grab the acorns!
Acorns are a collectible you can find all over stages with each level giving players a goal to find 40, the acorns basically work as a life system, you take damage you lose one and that will leave you with less chance to make the goal.
If you do manage to collect all 40 acorns in each of the 10 levels you will get a pretty lame bonus stage that is really not worth effort in my opinion, it doesn’t offer anything new and has all of problems of the other levels.
The basic gameplay is fine and you can tell that a lot of inspiration for this game actually came from Donkey Kong Country.
The stages are riddled with Dodo’s and other creatures which can be defeated by hitting them or bouncing on them, sometimes you have bounce across them or slam the ground to flip certain enemies over and then bounce on them … you seeing the similarities here?
In this games defence on a short budget they did an ok job, it is far from perfect with issues such as off screen platforms to jump too, unnecessary back tracking, bad hit detection and of course way too fast side scrolling but if you can look past all of this it has unlimited lives and with patience you can then experience the surprisingly pretty well designed boss fights.
There are various battles in the game and all of them are fought by Manny, there are these giant seeds in levels that can be used as ammunition against larger creatures and bosses.
The bosses each have various designs and require different strategies to defeat, there are two ways to defeat boss one is as mentioned with the seeds and the other is by slamming onto them, how you can achieve this will differ between boss variants but overall is really easy and wont take very long to figure out.
Graphically the budget didn’t stretch very far with this, some fairly low quality pixel art is used for character sprites, the backgrounds are pretty impressive and have a lot more detail even managing to keep up with the fast auto scrolling segments.
The soundtrack is pretty decent for a licenced game and the real issue is the lack of tracks and how much they replay the same small tune on a loop it can get a little annoying but thanks to this games short length of around 1 hour it doesn’t drag on too long that it becomes a problem.
So how closely does Ice Age GBA follow the movie?
Well lets be honest apart from a few screen captures from the film at the beginning and ending, this game goes in a complete different direction to the film and while I think this does work a lot in its favour allowing for some variants in boss fights and enemies, I think it’s departure missed out on so many opportunities for levels based on movie scenes, we could have had Sid running towards the screen while jumping obstacles and avoiding the Rhino’s or a fun slide level based in the Ice Caves. The biggest sin of all is that they never made a stage based on the memory sequence with Manny’s family, it would have been a great opportunity to change the art style and make some more creative choices that tie into the script.
While this isn’t exactly a faithful adaptation I wouldn’t go out of my way to call it a good video game either, effort was made to try and do something creative here and while I will say that for a knock off DKC clone this is far from terrible it failed in so many ways with its gameplay issues, repetitive soundtrack and uninspired visuals that all that it truly has left for its self is the creative boss battles and an overall simple experience for very young gamers. 3.8/10
I think for our next movie game we will jump into Ice Age the Meltdown to see if lessons were learnt from this.
see you then …. p.s there are three versions of that one so wish me luck !
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