Poor little Wall-E; he never had much of a chance. As a baby-bot, he got the short end of the robot opportunities stick and was delegated to collecting trash. Adding insult to injury, he’s forced to navigate his way through mountains of compactable trash for your enjoyment ... and it’s not even that fun.
Based on the 2008 Pixar film, Wall-E is an animated commentary on modern overconsumption. Years of unrecycled waste leaves Earth a toxic wasteland, forcing humans to migrate into space. The corporation creates a plan to clean the Earth using robots while humans are vacationing among the stars. These Wall-E robots do their best, but at the end of the five year deadline, Earth is still a pit.
Fast-forward 700 years, and humans are still hanging out in spaceships. Due to inactivity, they become immobile fatties who rely on robots for everything. On Earth, one lonely robot is still collecting trash. Wall-E is doing just that when I meet him for the first time.
Having yet to see the movie, I’m excited to play the game. This doesn’t last long. Controlling Wall-E isn’t difficult as his one and only skill is smashing all kinds of trash. Leading Wall-E through each level, you must compact and throw trash to activate switches for doors, bridges and barrier walls.
There are several types of trash to fling around. Explosive bits send an enemy off a ledge or Wall-E over a ramp. Electric refuse disables all robots, including our little hero. Throwing trash is fun the first few times, but after a zillion levels of the same action over and over, playing garbage man gets really old.
There are 14 worlds of the same basic action presented in artfully rendered environments. Graphically, the game is sound. Each different world has a theme and is semi-interesting to look at — but nothing to cry tears of artistic happiness about. And then, there is saving.
Saving the game, once a way to ensure the safety of your progress, is now a trick to keep you in the action. The only saving you will do is the automatic kind at rarely seen markers near level exits. Because I didn’t know when the next spot was coming, I continued playing despite reaching my breaking point just to avoid replaying that part of the game later.
As you move Wall-E around, it is your job to swivel the camera after him. In one of those previously mentioned simpleton levels, this isn’t a problem. You can swing the camera until you’re dizzy, and you might if you want to find the correct switch. However, in a room filled with laser-shooting enemies, the camera movement becomes somewhat ... interesting. (Read: I wanted to tear my hair out.)
Each level has a handful of different rooms to find your way through. The game mocks me as I breeze through one ridiculously easy room only to find myself facing a gauntlet built for Hercules in the next. You get just a handful of lives in the bargain, and that fantastic camera movement we talked about earlier can kill you quicker than any of those pesky enemies.
Here and there, the droning platform play breaks into flying sequences featuring Wall-E’s love interest EVE. EVE is a slick “modern” robot who Wall-E follows into space. At certain times in the game, you must pilot a flying EVE through garbage shoots and air ducts to one destination or another.
These breaks from the gameplay could be fun, except I found myself flying EVE straight into one obstacle after another due to the poor draw distance. Once in flight, it is almost impossible to maintain EVE’s top speed. When you finally get going, you must slow down again to avoid a moving clamp or random pipe.
To encourage replay, developers added coins to each level. Collect all the coins, and you can unlock a screenshot of the movie. If you missed some, you can replay the level to find them. Unfortunately, by the time you manage to make it to the end, the idea of going back for a single coin feels like torture.
Though the little robot warmed hearts everywhere in his first motion picture role, Wall-E just doesn’t hang on the Nintendo DS. After playing the game, I’m left only the satisfaction that I will never have to play it again. Parents, if you want to extend your child’s Wall-E experience, take your chances on the matching bed set instead.