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Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game

by Zachary Miller - January 17, 2013, 5:10 am PST
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Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

Rise of the Guardians is a video game adaptation of a recent DreamWorks animated movie starring a bunch of folk characters with famous voice actors. They are the Guardians: Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, and their newest recruit, Jack Frost. It's not entirely clear what they're guarding, but they do disappear if children stop believing in them (maybe they're all from Fantastica). A villainous villain named Pitch suddenly appears and gives children nightmares, which… makes them stop believing in the Guardians somehow. Angst-ridden new guy in tow, the Guardians must visit their five home realms and defeat the nightmarish hordes and, eventually, Pitch himself!

If all this sounds great, you're wrong. Rise of the Guardians is the most basic kind of hack 'n' slash game: repetitive, dull, and makes only mild care to hide its redundancies. You and up to three friends can take control of four Guardians and kill millions upon millions of nightmare creatures. The game asks you to complete many quests in each of the five levels (which are, themselves, surprisingly expansive), be it defeating a certain number of special nightmare creatures, freeing friendlies from cages after defeating all the nightmares in the room, opening treasure chests, and finding trinkets. These all involve some amount of monster killin', and very often you will be absolutely overwhelmed by monsters. If you or your companions begin to turn invisible, you can heal everybody with some Sandman magic—although you can only carry three at a time—and await the next inevitable slaughter. If you get sick of being decimated as the Tooth Fairy, you can switch between any of the Guardians (assuming they're not being used by another player) at any time. Some are better at long range, like the Easter Bunny, while others are better toe-to-toe, like Sandman.

What little depth exists amounts to buying and equipping gems (which give you passive bonuses) and upgrading your own stats. I honestly could not tell what difference stat upgrades made. Gems were far more important. Team Attacks are rarely useful. One interesting addition is pseudo-achievements, which you earn for completing quests.

Each of the five levels is clearly a different skin applied over the same basic framework. Sure, it's all impressive on the surface, but once you actually look at what you're interacting with, things fall apart. It's a dungeon-crawler layout that never changes, and neither do the goals. And yes, the game does look pretty darn good, except the camera is so pulled back that it's occasionally difficult to tell where you are in a crowd of monsters and Guardians and particle effects. This becomes more of a problem when you are rendered transparent. The music is all right, and the voice acting, while appreciated, is wildly repetitive. You will hear "The name's Bunnymun. Tell your friends." about 100 times during the first 15 minutes of gameplay. You can say similar things about the other Guardians, who each have a stock of five or six catchphrases that they yell incessantly.

The game may be more entertaining for the younger set, but you would never haul this game out at parties over, say, Nintendo Land or Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. You'd bore your guests to tears. Avoid this one, guys, unless your kids are huge fans of the movie. Even then… maybe not.


  • Art direction during gameplay sections
  • Four-player co-op
  • Voice acting & musical score
  • Cut scenes are the cheapest kind of cut scenes
  • Irritating quips served up every few minutes
  • So very repetitive
  • Transparent level structure

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Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game Box Art

Genre Action

Worldwide Releases

na: Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game
Release Dec 04, 2012
eu: Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game
Release Q4 2012
PublisherNamco Bandai
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