Review: ‘Ratatouille’

There is a touching moment in Pixar's new toon "Ratatouille" about the power of inventiveness -- how making something isn't the same as creating it. That's a lesson that the developers of THQ's game adaptation should have taken more to heart.

There is a touching moment in Pixar’s new toon “Ratatouille” about the power of inventiveness — how making something isn’t the same as creating it. That’s a lesson the developers of THQ’s game adaptation should have taken more to heart. While the “Ratatouille” vidgame has all the ingredients of a good game and will surely find some success with kids due to its title, it fails to find an extra spark that could raise it above the rat pack.

Like the movie, the game opens on a farm where players take control of Remy the rat (voiced in the movie and game by Patton Oswalt). One of “Ratatouille’s” fundamental problems becomes almost immediately apparent as players learn Remy has all the moves of a standard videogame character, like running and scurrying about or jumping and attaching with his tail. Given that the movie is primarily about cooking — not running and fighting — the controls simply don’t match the subject matter well. Of course, “Ratatouille” is understandably a much harder movie to adapt into a game than “Cars” or “The Incredibles,” but developer Heavy Iron didn’t bring a lot of creativity to the table.

The action that seems most connected to the movie is, unfortunately, the least used. Tapping a button makes Remy sniff the air, which creates a wisp of color that drifts off in the direction of his next goal. While the game uses this to help a player through the longer, more confusing tasks, it should have been utilized much more to set “Ratatouille” apart.

Bulk of the game takes place on and under the streets of Paris and inside Gusteau’s restaurant. While there are a collection of lengthy missions for Remy to play through that follow memorable scenes from the movie, “Ratatouille” is more a collection of minigames scattered across the film’s landscape than a cohesive package. To start a mission or minigame, Remy just needs to wander about one of the six different settings looking for visual cues like a disembodied chef’s hat or an item with a blue glow.

While this free-roaming approach to mission delivery helps to put more control in the gamer’s hands, it also tends to slow down the pacing of the game’s plot.

The story-based missions can be quite long, often so long that it’s easy to forget exactly what has to be done. But despite the occasional bit of confusion, they are often fun and challenging to accomplish. In one mission, for instance, Remy has to correct chef-wannabe Linguini’s botched soup without Linguini seeing the rat. To do this, Remy has to crawl all over the kitchen creating distractions, while dumping the proper ingredient into a boiling caldron.

The minigames aren’t nearly as fun as the missions though, consisting mostly of wild button-pushing, occasional puzzle-solving and plenty of fluff. As with too much of the “Ratatouille” vidgame, these minigames feel more like they were randomly jammed in than crafted to naturally fit into the story of a rat who longs to be a gourmet chef.

Ratatouille

Production

A THQ presentation of a game developed by Heavy Iron Studios and licensed by Disney/Pixar for the GameCube, PC, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.

Crew

Rated E. $19.99 - $49.99.
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