Friday, April 28, 2017

Review #390: Bionicle

 A hour-long snoozefest.
 You've heard the name Bionicle before, you simply did, no matter who you were or what your age was. Bionicle was kind of a big deal for Lego, and it quickly became a story-drive toy franchise that delved into other forms of multimedia. Not only is this game a tie-in with the toys, it's also a tie-in with the direct-to-dvd movie, oh boy, are we in for a ride!

 The game, supposedly, follows the story of the Mask of Light movie, but I couldn't make heads or tails of the plot. On the first two stages you collect two colored masks which triggers a cutscene in which said masks fuse...? with other colored masks and the protagonists transform because reasons. And then, in subsequent levels, you find even more of these masks. I don't even. Maybe if you are invested in the franchise you'll get the gist of most of the story, since it uses a lot of in-universe terms which were enigmas to me, and if you've seen the movie you'll probably make sense of the whole ordeal. Regardless, the entire game can be beat in just an hour or so.
 The game is a 3D platformer some times, most times maybe? In an effort to add variety, every stage has some sort of gimmick or style. The first level is your standard, dull 3D platforming stage featuring the Toa of Fire. The next level makes you play as the Toa of Ice, skating down an icy slope. Afterward the characters turn into the Toa Nuva, and you'll be playing as the Toa Nuva of Water alternating 3D platforming and awkward swimming sections. The next level is a minecart on-rails stage as the Toa Nuva of Earth. The Toa Nuva of Rock comes next and he has a 3D platforming stage that requires you to push things on top of switches, which is pretty wonky. The Toa Nuva of Air has the worst and most annoying level in the entire game, featuring choppy gliding mechanics and terrible vine-swinging segments. The second-to-last level pits you as the Toa Nuva of Fire on a race of sorts against an enemy, and the final level is a boss fight against Makuta, playing as the Toa of Light.

 Moving around and jumping around works decently, there isn't any depth or complicated maneuvers, but it works well. The gimmicks are pretty bad though. It's easy to mis-judge your jumps with vines, and some of the gliding segments are hard to land, thank god for unlimited lives! The pushing mechanics in the Toa Nuva of Rock's stage is laughably bad, pushing something has never been so choppy, and the entire boss fight is made up of you awkwardly pushing stones on top of vents. The camera is pretty bad too, although, to be fair it never got me killed. Something I found fascinating was how short levels were... yet how long they felt because of how boring and bland they were! The art direction was pretty neat, levels are nice to look at, and, maybe, if they had spent their time polishing the platforming and level design and did away with gimmick stages, we could've had a more decent game!
 Look at how badass these Toas look with their weapons! It's a shame they don't use them in lieu of shooting energy from them. How awesome would've it have been to have them slash and dice their way through stages!... but seeing how bland everything is, it's probably for the best that they went with simplicity. Circle shoots energy, and it usually lands on target thanks to automatic targeting. Your energy bolts run on energy, and once depleted you have to hold square to charge it back... or wait for an enemy to shoot and put up your shields in order to absorb it. Whichever the case, you'll have to wait, either for your energy to recharge or for the enemy to attack. For what it's worth, the combat system is kinda ingenious, absorbing energy from enemies in order to recharge your own weapons and the such. It's probably the game's best feature, but it's bogged down due to how easily enemies are dispatched, not requiring much thought or planning.

 Bionicle is not a good game. It's terrible at its worst and it's subpar at its best. That said, I think, I think that it might be an entertaining game for its target demographic: Little children. Although, even now I can remember how disappointed I was when I was younger that you didn't get to play as every Toa on foot. Look, even if you're a fan of the franchise, if you're older than 8, this game is a pass.
 3.0 out of 10

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