It seems impossible to turn on the television or surf the Internet without seeing at least one ad for Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie. Regardless of which version the ads display, whether it is the film itself or the video game (Available NOW on EVERY major console!), DreamWorks’ ad blitzkrieg has long passed the point of assaulting.
The good news is that the Nintendo DS version is actually pretty fun.
Those of us who are shamefully addicted to collection games will have a blast running missions as Barry, the bee who ventured forth into the world and discovered the humans were stealing honey from the bees then selling it for profit. The game never makes clear what Barry is so upset about – whether he’s angry over the great honey theft, or that the bees aren’t getting a cut of the profits.
Oddly, the story is less of a focus than the dozens of rescue-and-retrieve sidequests which dominate Bee Movie Game. These quests are fun for a while but start to grow tiresome by the end. But for people worried about endlessly repeating themselves they can rest easy knowing the game can be finished in roughly five to six hours and that is with completing all the sidequests.
The graphics have an “aww, how cute!” vibe to them throughout with plenty of sparkling colors on virtually everything. The developers know how to push the envelope in terms of bright and vibrant colors on the DS which is shocking when you consider these were the same people behind this summer’s Transformers games. I say “shocking” because the Transformers games were bland, brown, and lifeless compared to how the world of Bee Movie Game pops.
The devil is in the details and the developers have crafted an intricate universe to explore. The world of the bees is a cornucopia of yellow hives, but the game chooses not to focus on this aspect. Instead, the primary game world takes place in the land of the humans where everything is magnified to mirror the perspective of a bee. Animals are used a foils for Barry as he navigates through Central Park, a grocery store, a factory, and so forth. Pay attention to how trash is littered about in the park, or how fans rotate inside buildings, or the ways in which the world exists around Barry.
Players will have plenty of fun exploring the
I love the music in Bee Movie Game. Yeah, it really is that good especially if you’re in to jazzy scores. The music’s energy is infectious so when Barry gets in trouble, which is frequently, and the score ratchets up the tempo, it heightens your pulse in just the right way. Likewise the level-specific tunes mirror how each board is designed, and it is fun to sit and listen to. Whoever coaxed these notes out of the DS should receive a pat on the back for a job very well done.
Jerry Seinfeld’s voice only makes an appearance when Barry shouts enthusiastically or in pain. Otherwise, the voice acting is non-existent. The sound effects, on the other hand, are plentiful and well-used. The sound of a hacked off cat in particular struck me as funny and I’m honestly not sure why. But it was a fun mini-game in its own right for Yours Truly as the vicious feline guards of the fortress would attack with their high-pitched fury and I would command Barry to knock them silly. The sound of tweety-birds would ensue.
It may not be everyone else’s cup of tea, but I dug the sound effects used here.levels just to see how everything operates.
Controlling Barry on his adventures is very easy to get a handle on, and I’ll explain in a moment why I knocked the score down. Players control Barry with the D-pad, use the X button to fly higher, the B button to fly lower, the A button to interact with other insects and items, the Y button dashes, the R button picks up and drops items or insects, and the L button shows the map and the objectives. The touch screen is used for the mini-games and not for interacting with the rest of the world, which is as it should be.
As for the lower score itself, I have some issues with the mini-games. Aside from their nonsensical nature, the mini-games tend to rely far more on luck than skill before going completely off the map into Insane-O Land. In order for Barry to increase his stats, he has to complete one of three mini-games. He has to either trace shapes before they disappear from the touch screen, touch floating circles as they turn blue, or drag a ball into two other balls as soon as either one turns blue.
I’ll leave the obvious filthy metaphor alone.
Where you just need a few more bars in Barry’s stats to completely max out strength, stamina, or speed, best of luck to you. During the mini-game where you have to drag the one ball into the other two as they turn blue, you have to avoid some floating spiked balls. This isn’t much of a problem at first, but later on when those spike balls fling themselves at you to the point where you cannot complete the challenge, one has to wonder if anyone other than Yours Truly played that part.
Barry starts off his day wanting to be a Pollen Jockey. He aspires to be part of the elite force of bees who venture forth into the world to gather pollen for the rest of the hive to churn into honey. What he finds outside the hive, though, is a conspiracy of global proportions. It turns out that humans are taking the honey and selling it, and Barry is determined to make a difference for the good of all bees. Using this premise as a jumping off point, we have a long series of… rescue missions involving ladybugs and crickets.
Which I can hear chirping right now, as a matter of fact.
Bee Movie Game may not have the widest variety of missions since they interchange between rescuing a hapless insect, scanning boxes with a human scanner, collecting pollen, or ye ol’ stand-by Fed Ex quest. None of this reinvents the gaming wheel, but Barry’s journey is strangely compelling. It helps that the game can be completed inside of five hours so it doesn’t entirely over stay its welcome. The levels are quick enough to fly through if you choose to focus solely on Barry’s quest, but there are about a half dozen side missions per level to complete.
At the end of the day, the question is whether or not a game is fun. Bee Movie Game for the DS is indeed quite fun to play, simplistic though the mechanics may be. You may have seen it all before, but it doesn’t drown itself in repeating itself endlessly for hours upon hours upon still more hours. This is a short game that is perfect for road trips or long plane rides.
Bee Movie Game is fun the first time through, but not particularly on the second time. This isn’t to say it is a bad game, far from it in point of fact. But the game simply does not lend itself well to excessive replays other than if you are going on a long trip and have burned through everything else. There are plenty of adventures to complete as Barry, but this is not a game where the first thought upon completion is recidivism. That being said, the main game is certainly worth a full play through and, depending on how much you enjoy it, possibly a second.
There are a paltry lack of extras in the game so do not make the assumption there are multiplayer forms like Capture the Pollen or Kill the Fool with the Honeycomb. It is the adventures of Barry and that is exactly what gamers will get when they play it.
The ad campaign for the whole Bee Movie extravaganza may be off-putting, but the DS version of the game is alright by me. It isn’t tough, nor is it only a game for the intelligentsia. This is a game where players will have fun despite a few quirks here and there. For the most part, this is a solid entry for the holiday season and one that gamers will enjoy playing.