DreamWorks’ Jerry Seinfeld starrer “Bee Movie” is about a bee fed up with having to work the same dull job for the rest of his life. That about captures Activision’s “Bee Movie Game,” a collection of dull minigames, flimsy action antics and insultingly facile timed-button-sequences guaranteed to alienate savvy adults and challenge only the youngest of tots. Don’t look for this game to create nearly as much buzz as the film.
Under a golden dome of honeycombs and crowded by busy passersby, players guide movie protagonist Barry B. Benson through mission-driven chapters that complement the movie’s story with minigames and shooter stages. Hop a taxi and ferry passengers around New Hive City’s levels before a timer expires. Grab a scooter and deliver some treats. Race some other bees along impromptu courses. Pollinate flowers and shoot down dragonflies and wasps. Be surprised and disappointed when you find out that the whole shebang is done in about six hours.
The design feels slapdash from the get-go, signaling another quickie movie adaptation. With no “go here next” map indicator, getting around New Hive City comes down to random exploring and guessing. Dropping by generic computer terminals that offer gigs like “car mechanic” and “honeycomb collector,” players have to perform and eventually repeat tasks like scooping falling yellow dots into a bucket while avoiding burned-black ones or tapping buttons in timed succession to repair automobiles. Each task takes only a minute or two to complete, and evolves imperceptibly as new challenges are unlocked. Activision might call it “quick and simple,” but players will realize it’s actually just “tedious.”
Barry’s adventures in the outside world fare slightly better, especially sections that involve using his bee reflexes to momentarily freeze time and navigate around pendulous raindrops. Action stages, however, are absurdly simple, particularly the shooting mechanic, which requires Barry only to get close enough to an enemy to lock on and fire. It’s losing, not winning, that takes skill here.
“Bee Movie Game” has as few too many timed-button sequences as well, transitional filler between areas where players have to tap a button the moment it appears onscreen or risk failing an action. They’re too simple to get wrong, yet frequent enough to be annoying.
Game also assumes a working knowledge of the film, jumping haphazardly between unconnected movie moments that play like “best of” clips instead of coherent plot pushers. Call it a bad assumption or sloppy editing or just a cheap way to get kids who bought the game first to see the film, but it all adds up to a scrap of a tie-in.