Disney Pixar’s Up

Up

This movie tie-in isn’t the first videogame to feature an OAP as a playable character (I’m guessing that Supergran on the Spectrum has that honour) but it’s quite possibly the first Xbox 360 game to do so. Worry not – this isn’t about shuffling down the shops to buy a new pair of slippers and a bag of Werther’s Originals. It’s actually about a retired balloon salesman who ties thousands of balloons to his house and sails off to a tropical island, unknowingly taking a boy scout along for the ride.

What we have here is ten levels of Lego Star Wars inspired platform adventuring with a couple of “My First Flight Sim” airborne combat battles. For 90% of the game you play as Carl and Russell, swapping between the two at the press of a button to use their skills accordingly to progress. Carl can use his cane to push heavy objects and scare off bats with his faulty hearing aid; Russell can shimmy along ledges and cut through vines and spider webs with his keys. The third playable character is Dug the dog who can crawl through small gaps. And pilot a bi-plane.

Definite highlights are the pleasingly creative boss battles. Without giving too much away, two of them involve using Carl as live bait. Also pleasing is the near constant banter between the two as they travel around the island. Naturally the achievements are very easy to unlock, but they’re fun to get as they’re based on gaining new scout badges for Russell. Splat 25 spiders for the pest control badge, replay a level to get a recycling badge, heal yourself to get the first aid badge, and so fourth.

Then there’s the lowlights. Every now and then you have to defend yourself from a dog attack. These sections are simply no fun – just hit the X button when prompted to stun your canine foe. You get the impression that the developers just included these bits to make the levels last a bit longer. A lot of the puzzles are repeated too, and every time one appears you’re given various hints on how to solve it. This may be a kid’s game, but I’m sure most of them can work out how to shove blocks around the screen to make a set of stairs without constant hints appearing.

But like a good boy scout, Up gets the job done. That’s to say that it’ll keep the little ones entertained until the end. The problem is that it only takes around five hours to finish, with the only reason to return being to find any collectibles that you may have missed. Still, it’s much better than last year’s Wall E game and I’m sure many parents won’t mind shelling out £20-odd for five or six hours of peace and quiet.

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