Imagine my surprise to find myself laughing at a character voiced by Will Ferrell. I know! Shocker!
There was a time in my life when I would have done anything to play a movie tie-in game, especially one from a prominent movie of the time. Yes, I spent some of my childhood playing those classic Star Wars games for the GameBoy, but there was always something missing, something that I could never quite put my finger on. Eventually I discovered that what that was: I hadn't seen the film in the cinema when they had originally come out. I wasn't born yet. That realisation came later on in life when I played the movie tie-in games of films that I HAD seen at the cinema, Lion King for the Mega Drive, Toy Story 2 for the PlayStation, even Spider-Man 2 for the Xbox. There's always something added to the experience of a game when you've seen the movie it's tying in to. Something that dilutes the inevitable awfulness that, from now on, I'll be calling the “Tie-In Terror.” As far as I'm concerned, anyway.
When the fine people over at THQ sent Gamers Nexus the game based on Dreamworks' new animated feature film, Dreamworks' Megamind: Ultimate Showdown, I was sceptical. I hadn't seen the film yet and, judging by the trailers and other media stuff I'd seen so far, it was geared towards kids. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it at all and that bothered me; if I'm going to think that a game isn't good, then I want it to be the games fault - not the movie's. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded: I had fun from beginning to end with Megamind, there were times of frustration, but even those I can justify by remembering that it's actually targeted at children. I was relieved to find that Megamind was made to appeal to a wide array of audiences.
Dreamworks' Megamind: Ultimate Showdown begins where the movie left off - with Megamind as Metro City's brand-spanking-new superhero. Just as you're getting accustomed to your new role, a crime wave hits the city, breaking into your secret lair and stealing a plethora of devices including a DNA tracer and Metro Man's DNA. You, along with your sidekick Minion, are on call to help out with the crime wave and, more importantly, get your stuff back! The gameplay boils down to your standard platformer; you jump, kill things, throw switches, and solve puzzles. There's nothing really new here and that's a little bit disappointing, but considering that it's intended to be played by children for the most part I can completely understand the simplistic approach to gameplay. The controls are easy to master and the only downside I could find to the whole control scheme was a little nitpick I had with the way that Megamind moved. When the analogue stick was pushed in a specific direction, it took a fraction of a second for Megamind to move the way that I intended. While I know that this is a picky little problem with something that was done well overall, I thought it warranted a notation nonetheless. This particular little problem showed itself more prominently in the sections of the game where it's important to jump onto specific things, whether those are floating boxes or anything else, anywhere the player was asked to do any kind of very specific platforming it became an issue... Often leading to my death and undeniable frustration.
The aesthetics of Dreamworks' Megamind: Ultimate Showdown were quite good, keeping with the general feel and look of the movie that it's based upon without causing the gameplay to suffer because of it. The acting was done well and felt appropriate for the intended audience, as I'm sure the film itself is, and I thought the game was, not-so-surprisingly, very funny. I always enjoy the animated films from Dreamworks and I like the fact that they always slip in the odd joke here or there for the more adult members of the audience. The humor is perfectly executed, establishing Megamind's spot in the gaming world. Everything, even down to the menu system, felt like it belonged with the scenery.
Movie tie-in games have the potential to go horrifically wrong, and Megamind shatters the age-old trend. Judged purely as a game, the most notable problem is the fact that I finished the entire game, collecting all PlayStation Trophies, in about three hours. With that in mind, it's hard to recommend that people buy this game for their children instead of just renting it for a few days. For people who don't have kids, it's a fun couple of hours and an amazingly easy way of getting 1000 Gamer Points on Xbox 360 or one of those elusive Platinum Trophies on PlayStation 3.