You're Ubisoft and you've got the license to a globally beloved comic getting the big budget 3D mo-cap treatment from Steven Spielberg (with Peter Jackson in tow), so what do you do?
A. Immerse gamers in a globe-trotting adventure with new and innovative gameplay?
B. Graft the property onto an existing, successful gameplay your company has used of late?
C. Make a rudimentary, uninspired platformer with only a tenuous connection to the movie, barely-there presentation, and gameplay that features cut and paste levels and enemy encounters?
Well, I know which one I wouldn't choose.
The Adventures of Tintin is more or less tied to the recent movie of the same name. As Tintin (joined by his dog Snowy and frequently inebriated traveling companion Captain Haddock), you'll travel the world in search of clues about the downed ship, the Unicorn while battling smugglers and other assorted crooks basic platformer and stylus-controlled combat gameplay.
Switching it up
Occasionally, you'll swap between the titular hero, his dog Snowy, and even Captain Haddock's ancestor, Sir Francis. While each style of play fluctuates in quality (Sir Francis has some pretty twitchy stylus controls), but the changes introduce some welcome variety into the gameplay. In particular, I was kind of charmed by some of the Snowy segments which are typically pretty short fetch quests.
Levels that go on and on
Every level is a case of "idea + Ctrl + C/Ctrl + V" or, "pad it until there's about a half hour of the same environment. Typically, each will start by introducing one (maybe, possibly a second) mechanic and then repeating with a mix of existing mechanics. I can't fault this—that's some fundamental design here. But the sheer level of repetition saps out any possible pleasure that might otherwise be gained from your time with the game (this extends even to the boss encounters, by the way) and after a while it becomes a forced march towards the finish line.
Perhaps the mos problematic part is it drains any sense of adventure from the game, something I would think is vital to Tintin as a license.
How many times in The Adventures of Tintin would I go 10, 20, maybe even 30 seconds traveling from points A to B without any kind of real interaction? How about an opening flying sequence bereft of any kind of challenge or real obstacles? Then there's the visually interesting but mechanically dull travel sequences between chapters where you guide Snowy (or a plane, slowly) across a map which just remind you that you're not really engaging the game in any sort of meaningful, challenging way. I imagine the game was made for younger gamers, but that makes the omission of any real gameplay for some stretches even more galling.
While the score is fairly solid (I haven't listened to the film's soundtrack but I think The Adventures of Tintin shares music from the movie) nearly every other element would make you surprised to learn that this was somehow a game based on a big-budget production. From the lo-res drawn cutscene panels to the often jaqqy sprites, to the incredibly loose, sometimes poorly-linked story, there's not a lot here that would attract a gamer who saw it in motion for the first time.
The malleability of the Tintin franchise means that it could have easily been translated into a solid to very good platformer. In fact, imagine if this game had taken the 2D Prince of Persia as a point of inspiration how much better this game might have been. Instead, we're stuck with the most base and unimaginative kind of licensed tie-in that saps all of the joy of of the original material in translation.
The Adventures of Tintin is available now on all platforms.