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Publisher: THQ    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 266 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 1600 MB    8x CD-ROM    Graphics: 8 MB VRAM

The Incredibles: When Danger Calls
October 5, 2005 | D.G. Chichester

The real appeal of superheroes lies in the key word "potential." The "What if...?" factor, if you will. Live through a blast of experimental radiation and gain infinite strength. Help that wayward alien out of his wrecked starship and be rewarded with a ring of power. Survive puberty and your hormones unleash fantastic mutant abilities. And all that is just the beginning. What happens next—the real story—that's about the potential. Do you achieve something bold and incredible? Or do you squander your gift on the mundane?

Hero With a Thousand Pixels?
This review's other key word is, of course, "incredible" given that we're considering one of several games based on the hit animated film, "The Incredibles." In this case, Disney Presents A Pixar Film The Incredibles: When Danger Calls. (Yes, sadly that is the official name of the game, a fact the lawyers remind you of several times across each page of the instruction manual.) In the movie, a super-powered family throw off the shackles of "everyday life" they've been forced to conform to for too many years and finally become heroes. In effect, they stop pretending to be something they're not and take the chance on realizing their full potential. It's full of wit, surprise and copious amounts of high energy—a trio of big screen ingredients in shorter supply when it comes to this CD-ROM.

When Danger Calls (pardon me, Disney Presents A Pixar Film The Incredibles: When Danger Calls) certainly caught the attention of myself and my three-year-old son as we were passing through an Apple store. Truth be told, we spent a good time playing it before I received my review copy. But given the amazing range of what The Incredibles and their friends can do—force-fields, super-speed, outlandish feats of strength and stretchability—the game comes across a short in the potential department. Let's take a look at what it's all about and you'll see what I mean.

When Danger Calls (yes, I'm playing loose with the legally approved title, mercy mercy) promises "10 Daredevil Missions." The truth is closer to "10 Point and Click Activities Based On Varying Degrees of Timing Challenge." (Hmm…I can understand why they went with "Daredevil Missions.") Basically, we're talking hand-eye coordination: catch falling objects, side-scroller evasions, hit the right button at just the right time, that kind of thing. These are video arcade standards, so there's definitely a degree of challenge and reward, framed within the fun setting of The Incredibles world. However, the activities are more diversions than what most of us probably consider to be outright games in this day and age.

The reward system is based on a series of "unlockables:" additional games or bonuses that become available once you net certain scores earlier in your play time. At the start of the game, you're given access to four games, with each member of the Incredibles family in their street (or "normal") identities. Visually and audibly, the cast is indistinguishable from their movie theater counterparts: the art is spot on, the animation is smooth, the voices sound to be by the same screen actors. But play each mini-game more than a few moments and you quickly realize that the animation is pre-rolled: the characters are going through a limited range of throw/run/dodge motions that you trigger with a mouse-click or key-press. The backgrounds are static elements. And the sound clips quickly repeat, growing repetitious. The unfortunate combination is that there's just not much sense of interaction with these characters' worlds. (In fact, I felt far more involved with their goings-on during the film, when I had no control over their activities!)


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