Games based on Disney movies once were something to look forward to, but sadly those days are long gone. Classic platformers like Aladdin are nothing more than a memory. Nowadays, Disney licensed games are more like rat traps. The license lures you in like a big hunk of cheese, and snap, it’s over before you know what hit you. So it’s fitting that one of the most recent Disney titles features a rat named Remy, the hero of Ratatouille. He may be able to sniff out the traps that plague his rodent friends, he doesn’t fare quite as well in his recent PlayStation 3 outing.
It’s easy to be hopeful at the start, as the title does a great job emulating the stunning animation of the film. The graphics are polished and the animation smooth. PIXAR-like graphics are finally a console possibility. Having reviewed a bunch of poorly realized licensed titles, it’s nice to see the production value and effort that went into this game. Even the voice-work is a cut above a normal run of the mill title. What developer Heavy Iron Studios neglected was compelling gameplay, and a connection to the touching story of a rat with a dream.
A large part of Ratatouille is a collection of mini games. Like the film, the game begins in the countryside with an open world with charms to collect, enemies to evade, and secrets to discover. This tutorial area is about as good as it gets, because once you are chased down by the old woman of the country house, it’s all down hill. Once you reach the city, the ghost of the great chef Gusteau guides you through your adventure. The open areas from here on out aren’t all that interesting, and unfortunately they feature a variety of mini-game events to complete. After you beat these events, they will unlock and are playable in multiplayer mode for up to four players. Frankly though, there really isn’t anything that you are going to want to return to with your pals.
The real meat and potatoes of the game are the missions that attempt to guide you through Remy’s story. Unfortunately, they often have little to do with the film itself. Often the only thing connecting them to the story are the characters and the locations. The missions range from annoying chase sequences to random tasks like collecting ingredients or random bits of junk. At least beating the missions unlocks the next open area for Remy to roam.
The goal of becoming a chef is quickly lost in the mundane nature of most of the missions. It’s enough to squander the good will provided by the film, and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. For me, it was enough to make me break out my Genesis and take a quick flight on a magic carpet.