|Spoiler Alert: If you havent seen the movie yet, you may
want to hold off on reading this review. I really dont know how to talk about this
game without talking about the ending of the film. The movie revolves around a world of
monsters that derives all of its energy from the screams and terror of children. However,
as the movie progresses, we learn that scaring is a bad thing and that much more power can
be gotten out of making children laugh. The movie drains all of the fun out of the idea of
scaring little kids. Wisely, the Sony PlayStation game starts off well before the events
of the movie. Our two protagonists, Sully and Mike, are at the beginning of their scaring
career, and nothing sounds better to them than the screams and shrieks of little ones.
They are blissfully ignorant of the psychological trauma they induce, and frightening kids
is fun again.
Your job is to
navigate Mike and Sully through rigorous stages of monster training in order to get them
ready for scaring in the real world. The tone and set up of the game feels somewhat like
army boot camp. The stages are nicely laid out with lots of things to collect. There are
several modes to this game: first, your standard jumping and hitting platformer; second is
scare mode where you hit a series of buttons to trigger robotic fear; and the third is a
series of mini-games that serve to unlock items needed to progress through the game.
Monsters Inc. takes its cue from all of the best platformers.
The scare mode is really what sets this game apart. In each level, your job is to
seek out as many child robots (called nerves) and scare them out of their metallic
casings. However, the execution of the scare mode leaves a little to be desired. There is
very little challenge in pulling off a successful scare. You simply tap the buttons as
youre prompted by the screen. Theres very little sense of accomplishment when
you successfully scare these little robots, and the sounds and animations that accompany
the scares are, well, not very scary. Theyre not very funny either. Rather than
provoking any sense of fear, Sullys roars and posturing come off as pretty lame.
The graphics arent terribly innovative, but they more than do the job. Its
been so long since Ive played a PlayStation game that it made me appreciate how far
weve come graphically with the next generation systems.
I enjoyed playing this game. There were a few innovations that I wasnt
expecting when I plopped it into my PlayStation. I was expecting yet another derivation of
Mario or Crash. Instead, I get something that felt a little more like Escape From Monkey
Island. The controls werent nearly as innovative, but the look and feel of the game
were quite reminiscent of that great Sony platformer from a few years ago. Like the movie,
this is a game that will not stick in peoples minds or hearts for very long. There
is little that sets it apart from the countless platformers on the market. If you
couldnt get enough of the movie, there are film clips scattered throughout the game
that work as rewards.
Monsters Inc: Scream Team is a kids game and
it makes no pretense about appealing to the older, more seasoned gamer. I cant fully
recommend the game based on its own merits, but I can pretty much assure you that any
gamer under the age of 10 is really going to get a kick out of it.
Jason Frank (02/26/2002)
Ups: Solid gameplay; classic platform action with some good innovation; great
for young gamers.
Downs: A bit simple and uninvolving for most older gamers.