This has been a memorable year in many ways, the most relevant of which is that this is the year that movie tie-in games decided to cease to suck.
There were a few that still did, of course; witness Catwoman. Chronicles of Riddick, on the other hand, did a lot all by itself to change the blatant expectation of the sucking. By not merely not sucking, but actually being pretty cool, it actually reversed the suck effect caused by several other games, such as Elf on the GBA.
Now, there's The Incredibles, and while it does not actually wipe away the psychic stains of its subgenre, it's entertaining enough to be worth a rental. It's also squarely aimed at people, specifically children, who've seen the movie; Incredibles the game is less a coherent narrative of its own, and more a series of set pieces that flesh out and embody the film.
Still, if there's a kid on your Christmas list this year who's seen the movie and won't shut up about it, The Incredibles would be a decent gift.
Like the film, it begins with an ordinary day in the life of Mr. Incredible and his wife-to-be, Elastigirl, as they foil a bank heist. Unfortunately, the heist is being carried out by some particularly well-armed thugs, and the damage that both they and Mr. Incredible do to the city convinces people that they might be better off without superheroes.
Fifteen years later, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl have married and had kids, who have superpowers of their own. Mr. Incredible, after an ill-advised return to action, is approached by a mysterious woman named Mirage. She wants him to go to the island of Nomanisan for a final mission that isn't everything it appears.
The Incredibles is essentially a platformer, and one that's very faithful to the movie. Most of the actors reprise their roles in the game, with the notable exception of Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, and there's something like fifteen minutes of the film strewn throughout the game.
The graphics really capture the square-jawed, fast-moving action of the movie. The Incredibles has had some real work put into it to make it as faithful a reproduction of the style and feel of the film as possible, and you can really see that on the screen.
Over the course of eighteen levels, you'll play as four out of the five Incredibles, each of whom have different powers and different ways to defeat the enemy. Mr. Incredible's your basic brawler, Mrs. Incredible has a variety of stretchy attack moves, their daughter Violet can turn invisible, and their son Dash is superfast.
You'll spend most of the game as Mr. Incredible, which is sort of a shame; of the four characters, he's got the least variety to his moves and levels. It's pretty much just smashing things, though the game does spice things up a bit with, among other things, a boss fight where you man a gun turret. Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible is as much a brawler as her husband, but her stretchy limbs let her attack at safer distances. As Dash, you'll play through two levels that're slightly reminiscent of Sonic Adventure, outrunning velocipods or trying to get to school on time. Finally, Violet only gets one level, which is built around stealth; using her invisibility and force fields, she has to outwit a supervillain's henchmen.
Each of the Incredibles' basic powers, like lifting heavy objects or stretching their limbs, can be used all you want. Stronger moves, such as Violet's invisibility or Mr. Incredible's power slam, cost Incredipower, which can be replenished by grabbing the yellow I icons found throughout a level. You can also hunt for red I icons, which'll unlock secrets like an art gallery or stills from the movie.
The difficulty level of The Incredibles is pitched squarely at kids. With the exception of the rendered 3D graphics, this has a very old-school feel to it, like the platformers I played as a kid. You can catapult yourself using trees or antennas, pull yourself up ledges, swing from dangling cranes or light fixtures, and smash robots, mimes, thugs, and turrets using a variety of attack moves.
If you've been gaming for a while, this'll be old hat to you, but it's fun just the same. With the exception of a few glitches and at least one feature that isn't as well-explained as it really should be (a quick hint: you can jump from zipline to zipline), The Incredibles is smooth and easy to play.
The subject matter's fairly kid-friendly, except you may want to step in a couple of times. While this isn't wildly dissimilar to the hop'n'bop adventures you could see on kids' TV, the first couple of levels do offer the opportunities for alarming acts of sadism, like deliberately throwing mimes off a tall building, or into live voltage.
...okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. They're mimes, after all. They knew the risks when they took the job.
That's about the extent of it. Older gamers could probably blow through The Incredibles in one night, but a kid'll have hours of fun playing as the characters from the movie, and that's the audience this is meant for. If you liked the movie, you'll probably like the game, as it's a near-perfect blend of classic gameplay with the production values and design of the film.