At first glance, it may be hard to imagine that anything resembling a decent game is inside the packaging of Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction. Anyone thinking this, myself included, is probably not part of the game's intended audience. Ben 10 caters to the younger crowd that follows the (assumedly popular) Cartoon Network cartoon series, and is content with creating an enjoyable adventure for the less sophisticated gamer.
Despite being geared towards a younger audience, Ben 10 has all of the trappings of a game that should be fun for just about anyone. At its best, Ben 10 is an action platformer filled with a wide sampling of playable characters and settings. The focus of this title is transforming into one of Ben's multiple forms, and using their unique powers to combat different enemy types and solve environmental puzzles.
Even if one isn't invested in the Ben 10 universe, it is hard to deny the initial joys of beating down hordes of enemies as a giant purple spider gorilla, or blasting baddies with radiation as an over-the-top soviet. A large portion of the game, however, is spent solving simple puzzles and fighting run-of-the mill enemies using the same moves over and over. The game's boss battles can be challenging, but most scenarios in and out of battle require little thought from the player.
Augmenting the repetitive and simplistic nature of Ben 10's moment-to-moment gameplay are curious design and production hiccups. The game's spoken dialogue ranges from fantastic to segments that have obviously been edited together from several clippings. The actual quality of in-game sounds varies, at times sounding like it was recorded for a handheld version of the game, and there are even instances of spelling and grammar issues in the game's subtitles. Ben 10's graphics and level design also suffer the same ups and downs; some characters and levels look outstanding, while others are poorly rendered and bland.
Some gamers will immediately notice that the game feels that it must hold the player's hand through most steps of the adventure, pointing out which powers to use when and on what objects. Oddly enough, some things go unexplained, which is how I ended up stuck at the beginning stages of the game because I wasn’t told that the turtle character can double jump. At times, when the answer to a puzzle is obvious, the player is held back by the game's sometimes rigid need for the character to interact with the puzzle from a very specific angle.
While Ben 10's apparent flaws are enough to lose the interest of gamers such as myself, the ties to the cartoon and overall decent mechanics should be enough to hook fans of the series. The game does do a good job of playing up each character's unique aspects, and the story is presented in cartoon-like fashion between levels. Even as someone that has no interest in the Ben 10 cartoon, I did catch myself having fun during some of the game's more elaborate set-pieces, and even paying attention during the silly story segments.
The best part about Ben 10 is that children who receive it because of their interest in the cartoon won't be disappointed with a stinker of a game, as is the case with many television-to-game translations. There are certainly better action-platformer titles on the system, but this one doesn't stand out as being particularly offensive.