What do Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny have in common? Well, all three give you presents but in the wolrd of gaming they join forces along with Sandman and Jack Frost to take down the evil forces of Pitch (aka the Boogeyman), an evil spirit. Our heroes must overcome the various nightmares through many levels of drop in and out co-op hack and slash gameplay. As you play you get more powers and learn more combos and link moves. You can also unleash team attacks.
So the story goes that you work in a team and try to beat the evil forces of Pitch. North (Santa Claus), Tooth (the tooth fairy), Bunnymud (the Easter bunny), Sandman and Jack Frost is your team and how you fight is up to you. Bunnymud and Tooth are ranged fighters whilst the others are more melee. The controls system is basic where you can bash the punch button to have them attack or use the triangle button for a special attack that counts one belief bar. Using L2 you can charge up a team attack as well. This is primarily aimed at a younger audience although they may find it a bit easy as well. The enemies are pretty evil looking and they come in different forms such as black magic and shadows, bats, scorpions, dogs, jelly fish and all manner of evil looking sprites.
Each character has their own unique abilities and attacks. During play you build up experience points and you can assign these to get weapon upgrades, as well as special combat moves like the snowball attack or the ability to summon a swarm of miniature fairies. Some of the animations are just lovely by the way. The Guardians are also equipped with many powers including Jack Frost’s “Snow Fight” move in which he rapid-fires snowballs at your enemies, Tooth’s “Tooth Chain” ability where she links her collection of mini-tooth fairies together to create a damaging chain whip and Bunnymund’s “Rotten Eggs” attack where he summons eggs that charge and explode. One issue I found was you can’t jump but you can doge as per normal. The fighting itself can get a little much as times, especially when there is a lot happening on screen at once. It can seem like a mash of colors and sound effects. The four play co-op is actually very well done, with the ability to swap to any character during solo play as well. Playing with your family as a team is a nice touch and I can really see this being played over Christmas as a family activity.
The graphics are pretty clean and colorful; trying to keep in the mold of the animation the designers have made a really positive step in creating a world that matches this. The various locations like the Easter bunny’s Warren, the Tooth fairy’s palace and Santa Clause’s workshop all look distinct. The gameplay however is pretty repetitive and after a while even the most diehard of fans may just save and quit. I liked it as it gave me a way to play a video game with my grandparents as it was very simple to play. When they got bored they just left. The character upgrades and combo are pretty cool and you’re told on screen when you can use a skill point. Each character has its own set of customizable attributes that players can upgrade, including strength, speed, focus, belief, defense and energy to help the Guardians take on Pitch and his infectious Nightmares. These are also a lot of fetch quests along the way and you unlock treasure chests and reveal items that is on your list. You unlock portals as well that give you access to the other levels and worlds. It’s also a hub station for movement and regenerating health. The sounds are pretty decent as well; this is due to the whimsical nature of the background music and the perfect voice acting of the films cast and designers. They make a seamless world here and it is a shame that combat and gameplay is not varied more.
This is a nice video game adaptation of a feature film with bold ideas and a nice presentation. The gameplay however can get repetitive and sometimes when you die after a long battle it gets frustrating having to start over. It should be noted you only lose when all members of the party die and you lose belief from the little kids. Once this happens back to start you go. The story is pretty good and the way the worlds look is a testament of the skill and love of the designers. The four player co-op is very fun and being able to play with people you don’t normally play games with is a nice touch.
- Four player co-op works really well.
- The characters are lively, have lots of energy and the world around them looks great.
- Gameplay can get repetitive and may frustrate some people.
Summary: Rise of the Guardians represents a nice step forward on animation based video games. It shows that some of these games can be good. Younger gamers will enjoy playing as their heroes from screen and simplistic nature of gameplay may thrill or bore you depending on age bracket.
- Format: PS3
- Developer: Torus Games
- Publisher: D3 Publisher
- Release Date: November 20, 2012