Arthur and the Invisibles

You probably know all about Atari’s money woes. Things took a turn for the worst around a year ago, prompting them sell a handful of studios and flog a few of their franchises, such as Stuntman and Driver. But rather than shut up shop for good they’re sticking to their guns, hoping to be back in the black by releasing games that are pretty much guaranteed to sell. In other words, licensed efforts such as the countless Dragon Ball Z brawlers and this French movie tie-in. Snoop Dogg – of all people – is apparently providing the soundtrack.

arthurb.jpgIn some parts of the world it goes by the name of Arthur and the Minimoys, in others Arthur and the Invisibles. Why? Go ask the marketing men. It’s based on a children’s book by Luc Besson, who is directing the film himself, and is a part-animated, part-live action.

Plot: ten year old Arthur goes on a quest to find treasure belonging to the fabled Minimoys, tiny beings that live in harmony with nature, so he can save his grandfather’s house from being demolished. Sounds like third person adventure-platformer time to us.

White-haired Arthur is pleasingly acrobatic during combat, somersaulting from enemy to enemy and dishing out kicking combos. He’s also joined by a sword carrying princess and a small fat kid who can fire projectiles. The three can be hot swapped at any time, a gimmick frequently used during puzzles. Being tiny and all, they have to fight off mosquitoes and deal with other enlarged obsticles – it’s all a bit like Bug’s Life or The Ant Bully in that respect. The graphics aren’t as sharp as we would have liked, but they’re still good, if a little drab in places.

The speech in the PlayStation 2 version we’ve been playing is all in French accompanied by English subtitles. We don’t know if this is what the final game will be like though – perhaps Atari can’t afford a fleet of multilingual voice actors?

It’s due in late January for PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance and PC.