Gamers who consider themselves hardcore players usually view kid-targeted movie games with the same enthusiasm as someone with no toothbrush looks forward to going to the dentist. This isn't always the case, but more often than not proves true. Need examples? How about Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, The Incredibles, Curious George, Robots, etc.?
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is another in a long line of animated motion pictures trying to draw in the kiddies and their folks. It quickly exerted itself as a box office juggernaut with 100s of millions of dollars in ticket sales, but this isn't a movie review. How does the game stack up to the current generation of platformers out there? Not too shabbily, it turns out.
Nuts To You
All you tree-huggers can go suck on an organic lozenge. As Ice Age 2 shows, global warming isn't a product of man's attempts to cover the earth in blacktop; it has been going on for millennia. In Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, the big thaw is occurring, which is causing quite a stir. Sid the sloth, Manny the mammoth and Diego the saber tooth tiger are all attempting to flee the scene -- a scene, that, mind you, had no SUVs or oil refineries. Scrat, the tagalong happy-go-unlucky varmint, is whom you spend the game playing as. He's just a squirrel trying to get a nut.
And nuts you shall get. There are nuts as far as the eye can see. Nearly everyone you meet will want your help, and offers their nuts in return. Retrieve a nest full of condor chicks? That's a nut. Spin a totem pole around a few times? You can bet there's a nut around somewhere. Help a flatulent bear put his gassy emissions to good use, and you'll get a whole mess of nuts.
An Itch To Scrat
When he's not greedily hording nuts, Scrat is your typical platform-game star. He jumps, climbs, fights and swims -- and all pretty well, we must say. Ice Age 2's gameplay is better than your average kid-geared, movie license game. The camera won't make your eight-year-old sister utter any four-letter words, the control is easy for anyone to grasp, and the puzzles are about as hard as tying your shoes. There are a few boring spots and lame bosses, but for the most part it's a fun game to play regardless of your gaming experience.
Level design encourages exploration without the risk of getting lost and confused. If you see unclaimed nuts in an area, chances are you haven't been there yet. Minigames aren't anything too unique -- bowling, target shooting, and DDR-esque romps -- but they are well placed. The option of playing them on their own isn't presented, oddly, which would've really enhanced replay. A multiplayer penguin bowling mode would've been sweet.
Ice Age 2 is a fine looking game, as well. The characters stay faithful to their big-budget, digital designs. Animation is plentiful, and you can't help but laugh at Scrat's various expressions. He's a loveable loser if ever there was one. Levels look as good as they play, and the progression from glaciers to tropical islands is welcome.
Unlike most movie games, this one features most of the same voice actors: John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and even Jay Leno. Of course, that also means we have to endure Ray Romano, sounding even more bored and uninspired than usual -- if that's possible. We can think of at least a few people who don't love Raymond.
While it can be said that Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is following the well-worn trail of action/platform titles to a fault, it's still better than a lot of the titles game companies try to pawn off to kids or motion picture fans. More enjoyable the younger you are and the more enamored you are with the cast, Ice Age 2 will nonetheless provide any gamer with a few hours of enjoyment, along with a couple of laughs along the way. Oh, and we can't forget nuts. Lots of nuts.