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Rio

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action/Adventure
 
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6.5
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5
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6.25
 
Author:

Developer: Blue Sky
Publisher: THQ

Features:

Collection of over 40 mini-games
Play as one of six characters from the movie
5 different game play modes
Up to 4 players local multiplayer
Available for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii
Rated 10+

On the heels of the movie's release in theatres comes the inevitable tie-in game for Rio. The odd exception aside, game's based on movies typically don't have the greatest track record. Too often quality is second to the simple marketing cash grab. Does Rio manage to overcome this stigma? Let's find out.

Graphics

Graphically, Rio is a mixed bag. There's some pretty impressive character models and animations during the intros and between levels but the in-game action is pretty average looking. The characters are all totally recognizable and each has a selection of canned animations after each mini-game. During each game, everyone pretty much acts the same.

Environments are obviously very cartoon-like. They're functional but you won't be sitting there thinking, "wow, that water looks amazing" or comment on the particle or soft cloth effects. In some of the busier levels the action onscreen can get quite hectic. This goes off without any hitches in framerate probably because of the simplicity of the graphics. Again though, how important is this for a game targeted to kids? I haven't seen the movie but kids are going to instantly recognize the characters and I believe the environments from the game.

There are a few pre-rendered cutscenes that look to be from the actual movie itself but they're quite limited.

Sounds

Like the graphics, the sounds in Rio are functional enough for the younger gamers. There's limited dialogue from each of the characters but they do sound authentic (again, I can't confirm this because I haven't seen the movie). The music is awfully repetitive. Come to think of it, I don't think it changed once during the Story mode. Will the kids care? Probably not. When you license a game though I really want to hear more dialogue from the characters.

Gameplay

The Rio game is simply a collection of mini-games. Considering this format and the nature of the movie this one is squarely aimed towards the younger demographic. The average gamer just isn't going to be interested in this one because of that.

There are over forty mini-games that are playable over five game types. More on these later but first some details about the mini-games. While there are over forty of them, many of the games are derivative of one another. The mini-games are basic enough for a younger gamer and will provide little challenge for an experienced gamer when playing against the AI.

The different mini-games will have you competing in snowball-like fight games, running races, playing rhythm games, shooting, a variety of collection, tag-like games and even a Price Is Right Plinko game. Each game is preceded by a short instructions screen that works well enough. That said, younger gamers will require the ability to read if they are going to play unsupervised. Although there is some dialogue in the menu screens during the story mode, the instructions for each mini-game aren't verbalized.

During each mini-game there are a variety of pick ups that include bonus points and power up abilities. These power ups are things like bonus multipliers, extra speed, magnets to help gather collectables and a host of others. Some are specific to certain mini-games. Others are universal.

While the game touts five different game modes they are basically just different variations of how the collection of mini-games can be played. The Story mode plays through several levels that loosely follow the story line of the movie. Each level consists of three mini-games in which you earn points for how well you do. The points are cumulative throughout the story mode and you move on to each new level provided you earn enough points to be the champion in each set of three mini-games. The Story mode took me no more than an hour to play through and I'm not that sure there's much reason to play through it repeated times with the different characters.

Party mode allows you to choose the mini-games that you want to play into any order. Carnaval wheel mode sets up sort of like a game show with players taking turns to spin a wheel to determine which games are played across several rounds. Garland Gala mode is a type of challenge mode in which you pick a difficulty and play through several mini-games to amass as many points possible. At the end the points are translated into garlands that are then used score points in one final, timed ringtoss-like mini-game. The final mode, Carnaval Dance, appears to be merely another way of counting points earned in the mini-games. I found this mode the least entertaining of the bunch.

Controls are limited to simple motion controls and one or two buttons at the most. This simplicity in the controls is a strong point considering the game's intended audience. However the onscreen action can be extremely busy at times. This might be confusing for younger gamers with all the bright colours, icons and activity going on at once. Heck, it was confusing for me at times.

The real question here is if Rio has enough substance to be more than simply a movie cash grab. At $30, the price is definitely right. Its pretty basic but features enough characters from the movie that the kids should eat it up. There's no Xbox Live but the game is clearly marketed as a party game and we're talking about a game for kids here. So I'm okay with that.


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