Movie games suck. In fact, mygamer recently recorded a podcast about movie games and how much they, in fact, suck. However, like most things on planet Earth, there can be exceptions to rules. While Bee the Movie is not the best game ever made, it is definitely a better movie game title than most.
Instead of using one key gameplay element (like Shrek’s action/RPG setting, or Finding Nemo’s simple sidescrolling aspect), Bee the Movie uses many gameplay techniques into one nice mixture of a game. At its root is a central hub in which Barry the Bee can walk around inside a beehive world. Here, Barry can travel either by foot or hitch a ride in a car GTA-style (except without all the violence) to activate a new type of game. Kart racing, to exploring, to performing God of War-like button action sequences, to playing mini video games in the arcade are all strung together at a very nice pace.
The game follows the plot of the movie and at its heart, plays very similarly to the PS2’s Mr. Mosquito. Here, the player flies around a 3D environment while pollinating flowers, taking pictures, and collecting items all while trying to avoid being smashed by humans or being eaten by bigger creatures. Barry carries a pollinating gun in which he uses to suck up good pollen and releases it upon flowers that are need pollination. He also possesses an ability to slow time, ala Matrix style, to avoid rain drops and other dangers.
Beside flying around in a 3D world, the game breaks to mini game style alternatives. In the kart racing scene, players drive around like Mario Kart, using weapons and items to slow opponents. This mode in particular is very friendly to play as the control mechanics are nicely responsive. Even though the A.I. will fall behind within the first few seconds of the game, the player will never feel frustrated thanks to the responsive control scheme. In all the kart racing matches I played, I do not think I ever had to use the break button once as the car controls exactly how you want it to. Taking this one step further, the player can also participate in taxi driving missions, just like the popular Dreamcast title Crazy Taxi. Here, the player must pick up and drop off passengers within a specific amount of time. Once complete, the player can use the earnings to unlock video games in the arcade.
These video games have actually been created with care. Frogger and Space Invader clones are scattered throughout the arcade, and even though they are rip offs, they have been individually created for Bee the Movie. These games have been created with high presentation values that Activision could have bundled them all up and sold them in one package in the XBLA and could have made a quick buck. And as proof that the developers wanted to take that extra step, the player can even upload their best scores via Xbox Live and see where they rank against the rest of the world.
Another big part of the Bee the Movie is the button sequence events. A button will quickly appear on screen and it is up to the player to hit that corresponding button before the icon fades away. If successful, the player will be treated a visually stunning scene as the game prepares the player for an often intense movie sequence. These sequences are paced and presented very well, breaking up the typical action before one aspect of the game grows too stale. The game even rewards players for completing these gameplay events flawlessly by rewarding them with Achievement Points.
All in all, the game controls very well. No matter which aspect of the game you are in, the player will never become frustrated with the controls. This is overall comfortable scheme is sure to sit better with younger gamers, the target audience for this game.
Combining several gameplay aspects into one title can make a game lose its identity and even can confuse the player. But in the Bee the Movie, it just feels right. And because the gameplay elements will change frequently, the younger audience should be especially appreciative.
Graphically, the game has been created with care. Clipping and invisible walls have been kept to a minimum and the game possesses an overall clean look. When you slow down time, water droplets have a cool shimmer effect that make the water look…well, quite watery. Even the loading screen has been creatively crafted as each individual hexagon that makes up the beehive floats, like a raft on a wave pool. Voice acting is also a highlighting feature of the game as the movie cast lent their talent to this game as well. In terms of a movie game, voice acting from the actors is a must.
Bee the Movie does offer a wide variety of gameplay ideals, and bundles them well together. But after a few hours into the game, driving people around, collecting honey combs, and fixing cars can grow repetitive. But thanks to the 360s Achievement Point system, you might find yourself completing certain parts of the game just to get a boost in gamer point score.
It is hard not to recognize the work that Beenox put into making this game. Bee the Movie is a nicely paced and entertaining gaming package for young and older gamers. The graphics and gameplay extras (like uploading your high scores of the arcade games to Xbox Live) are enough proof that the developers took a little extra time and care when creating this game. If you are a parent looking to purchase a kid friendly game for your child this holiday season, this game will be a great fit. And even if you are an Achievement Point whore, you will be entertained while you up your gamer score. Not following the path of typical video games based off movies, Bee the Movie ain’t so bad.