Wii

North America

Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks

by Zachary Miller - November 15, 2009, 9:59 pm PST
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7

It's not quite a 10, but it's certainly not bad.

Confession time: I have several Ben 10 action figures. I like the character design of many of them — they seem inspired by Wind Waker's simplistic outlines. In my mind's eye, I see Link fighting Wildmutt in some dredged-up temple. However, I have never actually seen the successful Cartoon Network show, which stars Ben Tennyson and his friends, who save the world on a weekly basis. Ben obtained an alien watch at the show's outset that lets him transform into an assortment of aliens, which is basically his superpower. In this Wii game, Ben traverses a host of planets in pursuit of the evil squid-faced Vilgax, who has taken over the Earth in the future. The game provides ample challenge and interesting concepts, but fails somewhat in execution.

Ben and his horde of shape-shifting alter-egos travel to many 3D platforming levels. The game is heavily leveraged on the shape-shifting mechanic, and many environmental puzzles require the use of many alien forms to progress. These are the most fun sections of the game, and the set pieces involved are often impressive and vast. Switching between aliens is a rather convoluted affair, however. Let's assume you're starting out as Ben, which is normal. Ben, by the way, is absolutely useless on his own — he can't even crack open breakable jars and boxes. Anyway, you cycle between forms with left and right on the D-pad, and then press up to transform. What's unfortunate is that you can't simply switch to another alien on the fly; You first have to press up again to switch back to Ben, at which point you can cycle to another form. It's a bit cumbersome, especially when you're in the middle of a puzzle that's dependant on form-switching.

The platforming is generally fun, but a few problems hold it back. Those forms with the ability to double-jump must do so with very specific timing. If you hit jump again at the wrong second, the double-jump will not activate and you will often fall to your death. Spidermonkey has the most problems in this regard, especially since his special ability is to chain jumps together with zipline targets. The awkward double-jump is met with an equally irritating zipline that doesn't always activate when you want it to.

The camera is the game's most glaring shortfall. It follows behind your character, but it is slow to catch up around corners. You can remedy this by moving the camera however you want, but to do so, you must hold down the minus button and rotate the camera manually with the control stick. Ben stays still while this is happening, so it's a death wish during combat.

Oh yes, the combat. It's shallow and frustrating, relying on button mashing and the abuse of special attacks to get the job done. Interestingly, Ben gains experience with every enemy he destroys, and leveling up allows you to choose a new special attack for one of the aliens. However, the enemies don't take any knockback or react in any way when you hit them, but you take knockback, which is a little ridiculous. If I'm a gigantic hulking dinosaur and I pound a dude into the pavement, you would think he'd stumble a little. The combat is so laughable that the game's bosses fall to environmental hazards rather than fisticuffs. That's certainly appreciated, but it's also a strike against the reliability of the combat.

Ben 10 also throws you into frustrating spaceship battles between levels. The shooting is so inconsistent, and the collision detection so wacky, that you will happily press the minus button to skip right to the next level, which is sadly an option.

Happily, Vilgax Attacks is a pretty good-looking game. The various environments you move through are colorful and rich, and a few offer peeks at the ambient life. The enemy characters all look pretty similar, but Ben's alien forms are vibrant and detailed. Each one is its own character, with a unique walk cycle, attacks, and various other animations that help bring each one to life. The game's soundtrack is another surprising hit, with catchy melodies that fit each world.

Fans of the Ben 10 television show will probably get the most out of this game, but those seeking more in-depth platforming action should probably look elsewhere. While certainly enjoyable, Vilgax Attacks provides a shallow, though well-done, experience.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 7 5 7 5 7
Graphics
7

Nice character designs, though the enemy models repeat far too often with palate swaps. The environments are the real stars of the show.

Sound
7

Every time you turn into an alien, he yells his name like a Pokemon. That gets really old. The music, however, more than makes up for it.

Control
5

Why some developers map jump to a button that's not the A button is a mystery. There is no lock-on in combat, and switching aliens takes too many steps. The platforming and environmental puzzles sort of make up for all that, but not really.

Gameplay
7

Skip the spaceship parts and go right to the platforming. It's just too bad that everything except environment traversal and puzzle solving is so disappointing.

Lastability
5

There are health and special attack boosters hidden in each level, but that's about it.

Final
7

Ben 10: Vilgax Attacks is a very vanilla effort overall, but it might provide some fodder for the younger set.

Summary

Pros
  • Environmental puzzles are awesome
  • Looks good
Cons
  • Combat is more frustrating than fun
  • Inconsistent jumping
  • Just skip the spaceship bits
  • Rampant camera issues
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Papaya Studio
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks
Release Oct 27, 2009
PublisherD3Publisher
RatingEveryone 10+
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