CrunchArcade: Movie Tie-Ins


In case you weren’t paying attention summer has officially arrived. OK, maybe the kids are still in school, the weather isn’t quite that warm yet and it is still two and a half weeks until Memorial Day. But for Hollywood summer is here. Spider-Man 3 just had the biggest single day record at the box office, and this is just one of several highly anticipated films to be arriving this season.

Summer is also the time when video game tie-ins arrive in full force. These are usually a hit or miss affair, as even a blockbuster smash on the big screen can turn out to be a disaster as a game. And a bomb at the box office usually doesn’t make for good gameplay. Some titles remain especially faithful to the movie’s plots, while others take you off on side adventures that seem to actually conflict with what you saw at the theater. Here is a look ahead at what you might be seeing on the big screen, and then playing on the consoles and PC this summer.

Spider-Man 3
ESRB: Teen
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, GameBoy Advance
As we already mentioned one of the biggest films of this “summer” has just opened and it coincides with the release of the game tie-in, which Activision has rolled out for just about every platform under the sun. The story follows the film fairly closely, but adds a lot more action and side adventures – since who would really want to play going on a date with Mary Jane, especially when you can be a single swinger in a massive 3D city. Spider-Man 3 features enough villains to keep things going at a breakneck pace.

Enter the Sandman; a villain unlike anything our favorite Webslinger has gone up against so far. While the core of the game resembles a button mashing fighting game, taking on an opponent like Sandman does add a new element to the mix. Plus, there is also that stuff with the Green Goblin and Venom, as well as other fan favorites who aren’t in the film. It’s almost enough to make an aspiring photographer hang up the red tights, but of course you know that’s not going to happen. Besides, you’ll get to don the spiffy new black “Ninja” looking outfit to do battle with the bad guys, where this suit will offer you different moves from the traditional red suit.

Ironically Spidey is most impressive this time on the Wii and PS2 — because the graphics fail to deliver on the next gen Xbox 360 or PS3. In fact the game could be among the worst looking of the next gen titles to date. Activision’s decision to cover every platform is actually Spider-Man 3’s great threat. So unless you’re a huge fan of the series, this isn’t one you have to catch in your web.

Shrek the 3rd
ESRB: Teen/Everyone +10
Platforms: Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS, GBA
They say the third time is the charm, and the adventures of the jolly green giant ogre continue in this upcoming game that lets you journey through a variety of lands, including Far Far Away, where you’ll battle new villains, such as the devious Prince Charming, an Ice Dragon and even Captain Hook. This time around you’ll get to play as Shrek, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Fiona and new characters Arthur and Sleeping Beauty.

While Shrek films appeal to fans of all ages, the game series has really been much of a kid’s thing. The humor is typically crude – in fact cruder than the films – and the plot have been fairly predictable, with far too much redundancy. That said if you’re a kid, or a grown-up who can’t get enough of Mike Myers’ most popular character, then Shrek the 3rd will likely deliver the goods and more.

This tie-in will feature 20 levels from the movie, along with a few extra side quests to add to the fun, including a visit to Stromboli’s Puppet workshop and the Evil Queen’s Castle. And when the main adventure is complete, Shrek the 3rd features the more popular multiplayer mini-games, for more fractured fairytale fun.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Disney Interactive
ESRB: Rating Pending
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS
For the next generation systems, you can actually think of this one as two stories in one. On the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, as well as the PS2 and PC, this game covers the plot of both Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and this summer’s At World’s End along with expanded events that provide even more action than was seen on the big screen (if that’s even possible)!

Through the full story from both films, you’ll get to play as any of the three main characters from the film including Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner or Elizabeth Swann, and even switch between them. The heart of the game is based around swashbuckling swordplay, where you’ll get to pull off a variety of pirate-inspired moves such as swinging on ropes, as you battle a variety of villains including Davey Jone’s menacing crew of soulless sailors.

Notably the Wii version will let you feel the most like a buccaneer, as you’ll get to wield the controller like a sword – and maybe even do so with cat-like tread. Likewise the DS version promises to make use of the touch screen offering unique challenges during duals and even for solving some of this version’s puzzles. If you ever thought that the pirate’s life might be for you, you’ll now get your chance to pick up a cutlass and get into the swing of things.

Surf’s Up
ESRB: Everyone +10
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2, PSP, DS, GBA, GameCube
If you’re asking what’s up with yet another animated penguin film, we can’t help you there. But where there is a movie with cute animated animals you gotta know there is going to be a game following in short order. In this case the film is about surfing penguins, and this actually makes for a game that could be better than most.

The gameplay seems to be much closer to Tony Hawk than just another animal adventure game, and Surf’s Up will feature 10 playable characters along with a variety of unlockable characters. Who would have thought another penguin movie could actually result in the best penguin video game?

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
2K Games
ESRB: Rating Pending
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS
It wasn’t a blockbuster on the level of Spider-Man, but it was far from the failure of Daredevil or… dare we say it The Hulk. The 2005 theatrical release of the first Fantastic Four film actually grossed $330 million worldwide, which was enough for the studio heads at 20th Century Fox to green light a sequel. The best thing that can be said of the video game release is that it was vastly better to the 1998 side-scrolling version for the PlayStation.

Essentially another fighting game, you’ll get to toggle between the Fantastic Four team where each member has his or her own unique special abilities. You’ll get to do battle against the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom, as well as other villains including Red Ghost, Terrax and Super Skrull. The game promises numerous unlockable content including comic covers, movie footage and even alternative costumes. But even with all this extra stuff, we’re not exactly counting on this one to be all that fantastic.

ESRB: Rating Pending
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS
As comic-book/cartoon tie-ins go, the Michael Bay-directed Transformers movie could be one of the most controversial ever released. Fans are already hotly debating the film, and it doesn’t open until the 4th of July! The mix of characters from various eras in the series, as well as the enhanced role that humans play are just two of many points that could drive some diehards away.

Some of the film’s problems will actually be resolved in the game, notably you’re not going to have to play a teenager in love, or any of the army soldiers on the run. Transformers will instead focus on the duel between Autobots and Decepticons, and there will be nine transformers in total to choose from including favorites like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, as well as Megatron and Starscream. There should be plenty of driving, flying and fighting to keep fans of the original Transformers series happy.

And in a very unique twist there is not one, but two Nintendo DS games to choose from: an Autobot version and a Decepticon version, where you can battle against friends in multiplayer mode or hone your skills against the computer. No doubt this way of letting the game transform into bigger sales!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Electronic Arts
ESRB: Rating Pending
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS, GBA
The boy wizard is back for another school year and go around with he who shall not be named. Based on the film that is based on the book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix could prove to be the best of the series. Rather than merely retelling the film’s plot the game instead lets you play as Harry and explore Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where you’ll encounter notable characters from the series – including those who didn’t get their close-up on the big screen.

This time around the gameplay promises to be less linear, instead letting you feel like you’re taking part in an original tale. The key plot elements will still affect the overall story, but you can choose how you want to take on things on. Visually Harry Potter could be the game that most resembles the big screen action, and this is especially true on the 360 and PS3. This is going to be a fine looking game, with a lot of options for re-playability. So yes, we’re just wild about Harry!

ESRB: Everyong
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Xbox, PS2, PC, GameCube, PSP, DS, GBA
It’s hard out there for rat – especially a rat who likes to cook. Based on the upcoming Disney/Pixar film this is the story of Remy, a rat who just happens to live within the walls of a famous Paris bistro. His dreams to become a top chef are hindered by his family’s skepticism and the fact that the staff and patrons aren’t too willing to give a rat a chance.

Even on the next generation systems the game’s visuals don’t seem to quite hold up to that of the film, but Ratatouille should still charm younger players. This upcoming game promises to offer more than 30 missions, plus mini-games where you’ll play a Remy and his friends. The game will feature many of the scenes and settings of the film, including the sewers of Paris as well as the kitchen that give Remy his big break. Many of the challenges will be based around cooking, and yet somehow seeing a rat as the chef might not have you lose your appetite.