Hot on the heels of this summers cinematic remake of Roald Dahls classic childrens adventure Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
are Global Star Software
with the movie tie in videogame of the same name in the form of a 3D platformer - a genre already covered with quality titles for both older and younger players alike meaning the developers here would have needed to produce something special to make an impact....they haven’t.
As you would expect the game follows the bizarre and often psychedelic journey of the five lucky finders of Mr Willy Wonkas golden tickets which grant access to the oddball chocolatiers factory for one whole day. Unlike the children in the story however purchasers of this game will not be leaving with the prize of a lifetime.
The game follows the major plot points of the movie, the bit where tubby candy fan Augustus Gloop gets stuck in Mr Wonkas plumbing, the part where gum thief Violet Beauragarde gets her rather bizarre comeuppance, the part where Charlie fights robots with jelly spiders - what? Ok so they may have fleshed it out a bit and added scenes that were not featured in the book or either film but that’s to be expected with a videogame of a film and it doesn’t go too out of context as the added scenes usually form part of a series of levels based around a section of the movie anyway.
The basic gameplay proceeds as thus, you as Charlie Bucket must roam around the insides of the factory helping out whenever one of the four brats you came in with screws up and then continue on with the tour of said factory, along the way you will have to complete various puzzles aided by the tiny Oompa-Loompas who make up Wonkas workforce. Oompa-Loompas come in various types, there are your standard worker-loompas who can activate various bits of machinery and collect power ups for you, harvester-loompas who can get candy down from the highest trees for you and welder-loompas who can repair broken machinery which you will most often then need to utilise in order to progress, in fact so much of the factory appears to have fallen into disrepair that you would be forgiven for suspecting that Mr Wonka sent out the golden tickets in order to acquire more labour for a day.
The scenes that are mirrored in game from the movie have been fleshed out as mentioned, getting Augustus out of the pipes requires more than just waiting beside the chocolate river for the pressure to build up, you have to work with the oompa-loompas to build the pressure behind him, then Mr Wonkas claim that “No other factory
in the world mixes its chocolate by waterfall” get refined down to “No factory
in the world mixes its chocolate by waterfall” as the tubby brats antics cause the chocolate cascade to cease flowing.
Getting the many problems like this one that arise fixed requires you to complete a series objectives given by Wonka, these objectives can be reiterated by Grandpa Joe if you forget what you are meant to be doing.
Unfortunately controlling the oompa-loompas can be a frustrating experience and more so when you have a large number of them. You can instruct them to follow you, wait for you or work for you but getting them to do what you want can be frustrating when it comes to work as there can be multiple objects that the oompa-loompas can use via the work command around you but it’s a matter of luck that they will go and do the correct thing. You may have say two normal worker oompa-loompas and one harvester following you and you push up on the d-pad to get the harvester to get candy for you but he will sometimes go running off to collect a power up for you instead of harvesting meaning you have to await his return to try again to get him to do what you wanted.
Once when I instructed an oompa-loompa to work he instead chose to run around in circles as if on fire instead.
To aid you in carrying out your duties as Wonka latest employee *ahem* lucky winner you have an everlasting supply of everlasting gobstoppers, these function as your basic attack move and can be thrown around with reckless abandon, they can help you to retrieve candy from trees which then can be used to enhance up your candy powers. Your candy powers are moves that do more than basic gobstopper slinging can and they will aid you in puzzle solving more so than in combat.
The story is moved along via lengthy between level cutscenes during which the narrators voice would suggest he has endured a strong blow to the head and several strong drinks, the rest of the voice acting is very good though as most of the voices are provided by the actual actors from the film, an exception to this is Mr Wonka himself but the guy who does the voiceover is close enough to Johnny Depps in movie performance that it doesn’t matter.
The graphics are colourful and bright throughout fortunately as recreating the insides of the Wonka factory could not be done any other way, unfortunately everything inside is very angular, some may claim this to an extent is in keeping with some of the Burton esque styling of the movie but really its angular and jagged to the extent where its just bad graphics and levels.
The levels themselves aren’t too well put together either, there are a lot of poorly laid out and confusing areas and then there are areas were you can become stuck which compounds the frustration. A psychedelic look and feel is usually maintained although some sections do lose this a bit and have a bland steely style that looks out of place.
To further detract from the already unappetising graphics is the fact that some of the animation routines jump rather noticeably, you know how some games are just packed with impressive little touches in both gameplay and visuals? This features neither.
One nice touch though is that references are made both to the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and to Roald Dahls literary follow-up Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator
– the book which took the series into outer space of all places in quite an unexpected plot twist.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has too many bad and shoddy points to make it worth serious consideration in a genre packed with quality titles, the poorly laid out levels and their looks, places to get stuck and annoyingly hit and miss oompa-loompa controls combine to produce a title that isn’t anything special to look at and frustrating to play.