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The Adventures of Tintin is a surprisingly enjoyable romp through the movie's highlights but also demonstrates how much more fun can be had when tie-in constraints are released.
Captain Haddock and Tintin bound through the bizarrely skewed landscape, hurling themselves up misshapen ladders, running across twisted gantries under the piercing gaze of a giant and over-sized opera diva. The way out was clearly ahead, but a locked door suggested that progress would be hampered. "Billions of Blistering Blue Barnacles!" exclaimed Haddock, "how are we to get through?" Tintin spied the answer hanging from the belt of a nearby hoodlum: a shiny key. The villain jumped in surprise at seeing the two adventurers and raced through a nearby doorway. The companions tried to follow, but the door simply led to another door. Further down, the villain jumped into yet another doorway, through which Tintin and Haddock gave chase. Thus ensued a moment of comedic farce as heroes and villains each popped in and out of interconnected doorways, waiting for the moment of surprise when the key holder would be brought to a halt.
I'm a fan of the Tintin books first and foremost. Excited as I was to see my cherished childhood heroes finally being given big-screen attention I was equally nervous about how they would be interpreted by Hollywood. The same applies to the game: I revelled in this opportunity to step finally into Tintin's shoes, but how would it shape up?
The answer is a bit mixed. The game adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin is brilliant and shambolic all at the same time. On the one hand it successfully communicates a kind of visual slapstick comedy which is hard enough to deliver through written story telling - I know this from experience - and surely even harder to deliver in an interactive setting. It is genuinely joyful and comedic to play. On the other hand its attempts at big action set-pieces fall down at every turn, especially in the shadow of recent blockbusters such as Uncharted 3.
A high-budget modern remake of Manic Miner's quirky cavern challenges.
Where The Adventures of Tintin excels is in the side-viewed platforming which makes up the bulk of the action. This proves to be an excellent design decision, because rather than restricting the player to scenes from the film, the game expands upon the diverse locations themselves and turns them into a playground for some excellent platforming and exploring. Here the action is accomplished, addictive and thoroughly entertaining. It struck me as a kind of high-budget modern remake of Manic Miner's quirky cavern challenges.
Scattered throughout these levels are some third person adventuring sequences. It is in these over-the-shoulder sections that the game is much less assured. The movement feels awkward and forced and the camera (over which the player has no control) does not lend itself to exploring or enjoying the environment. Thankfully these moments are rare.
Also standing out like a sore thumb are the airplane and motorcycle sections. They are okay within themselves - if a little lacking in character - but their placement in the narrative seems contrived and to be honest I found myself wanting to return to the main platforming action.
However, The Adventures of Tintin pulls something of a coup by taking the gameplay mechanics out of the film tie-in context and laying them bare with a series of focused challenges. The airplane, motorcycle and sword-fighting minigames are provided their own set of score-based challenges, with the airplane sections in particular standing out as a highly effective re-hashing of Pilotwings Resort.
It's one of very few games that my partner and I enjoyed together.
Similarly the excellent platforming adventure is re-mixed into an off-script dream sequence in which the elements, characters and environments from the main story are witnessed by a concussed Captain Haddock. Here, the characters regain some of their magic from the original stories with Thomson and Thompson finally playable as well as an eccentric turn from Bianca Castafiore. The imaginative design of these levels far excels those in the main story. I'm normally an advocate for strong narrative-led stories, but it's amazing how much better the gameplay in The Adventures of Tintin is in the levels in which the source plot has been stripped away.
These side challenges also introduce the exemplary co-operative gameplay which I found to be the highlight of the game. The Adventures of Tintin takes some inspiration from the Lego series' design, in providing each character with different and complementary abilities as well as opening up completed levels to a free-play mode in which characters can be swapped at will to collect the remaining collectibles. The two-player sequences in which both players career around as the dog, Snowy, are a particular joy.
I personally quite liked The Adventures of Tintin, all things considered. It isn't the greatest game on the market and certainly it isn't the Tintin adventure I dreamed of when I was young. However, the fairly unique and bouncy platforming style has proved highly addictive and it's one of very few games that my partner and I really enjoyed playing together. For that reason alone I felt it was well worth my time.
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