The Adventures of Tintin: The Game Review

By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Dec 07, 2011

Tintin turns out to be a fun game, and a far better one than you'd probably expect it to be, thanks to the charming story and characters, of course.

The Pros
  • Charming story and characters
  • Responsive controls fit well with the great presentation
  • The Tintin and Haddock mode is a full-featured platformer in its own right
  • A kid-friendly game that won't bore more dedicated gamers
The Cons
  • Challenge mode is largely a waste of time
  • Lousy Kinect controls
  • Won't be challenging enough for some gamers

The Adventures of Tintin: The Game Review:

The video game industry spews out a sizable helping of "meh" each year, a large portion of which will generally fall under the designation of "film-to-game adaptation." The Adventures of Tintin: The Game is one such likely candidate for your scorn, with its movie tie-in status, its budget price tag and its family-friendly appeal. A triple threat of potential Suck, to be sure.

It doesn't though. The Adventures of Tintin might not be Game of the Year material, but Ubisoft Montpelier managed to put together an impressive, content-filled and surprisingly well-presented 2.5D platformer that hits far more than it misses.
 

 

Playing Investigative Journalist

First, a quick lesson: while Tin-Tin is the subject of a Steven Spielberg-directed movie that's coming out this month, the character and the world he lives in actually has its roots in a long-running comic book series from Belgian artist Georges Rémi. The Tintin character is an investigative reporter who, with his faithful dog Snowy, embarks on a series of adventures that span multiple genres.

The Ubisoft game is based on Spielberg's movie, but the story behind them both was actually assembled out of pieces from three '40s Tintin stories. You'll follow Tintin, Snowy and, eventually, Captain Haddock as they search for the secret of the Unicorn, a ship that belonged to one of Haddock's ancestors, and its lost treasure.

The core single player game is largely a 2.5D platformer, though players will frequently find the pace being broken up by sequences that involve flying through stormy weather, aerial dogfighting, swordfighting, firing a slingshot from a motorcycle sidecar, escaping a pursuing wall of water and the odd boss fight, among other things.

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These sequences can be hit-or-miss. Flying a plane or driving a motorcycle makes for a fun diversion, but some of the non-platforming activities fall flat. Swordfighting is memorably lame, little more than a QTE with some occasionally poor checkpointing. The slingshot shooting sequences can be a pain as well, especially when you're given only a brief window to shoot some of the smaller, more damaging moving targets.

These diversions offer the wrong kind of challenge, especially since the platforming bits are so easy. The game becomes more challenging in the later stages, but never to the point that a regular gamer would have a problem. Blame it on the target audience in this case. Make no mistake: Tintin is a family-friendly game to its core. It's just a very well put together one.

Responsive gamepad controls help, but Tintin's real win is the variety it throws at you over the roughly five hour single player game. The basic task of running and jumping, plus the occasional brawl, gets mixed up with some funky level designs and enemy tactics.

The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin looks good too, maybe not as good as the movie does, but it does use those same art assets (which were themselves heavily inspired by the original comic book designs). Add to that the 2.5D presentation which frequently steps away from the side-scrolling action to relate the story in a more dramatic way.

All of this boils together into a surprisingly tasty stew, one that kids and adults can have fun either watching or playing. The characters are charming and the story is surprisingly heavy on plot details for a movie tie-in game. It may well spoil the movie's story when all is said and done, but better that than a game plotline that is impossible to follow.

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventure Continues...

In addition to the story-driven single player adventure, Tintin also includes the "Tintin & Haddock" co-op mode. All of the story's secondary tasks are absent here, with the mode instead delivering more of a "pure" platforming experience for one or two players (offline only). You'll unfortunately need a second player handy if you want to nab every collectible, but the mode is still very playable for solo gamers.

Tintin & Haddock is set up like so many other classic platforming games. The central hub room is filled with doors that open into rooms containing even more doors. Each of these sub-rooms is essentially a "world," and each door within those sub-rooms leads to a single level within that world. Each level offers its own collectibles and, in addition, players will earn points (from gems/coins dropped by defeated enemies) that can be spent on unlocking new costumes for your characters.

The Adventures of Tintin

You'll start with just Tintin and Haddock as playable characters, but more become available as you progress. Each playable character possesses a different set of skills. Tintin has a grappling hook (absent in the story portion of the game) while Haddock tends to rely more on brute strength, pulling heavy crates and punching through certain brick walls. Castafiore, the opera singer, can break glass with her voice.

While the level of challenge in Tintin & Haddock isn't going to challenge greats like Mega Man or Shinobi, there's definitely more skill required to succeed in this mode. The story doesn't exactly hold your hand the whole way through, but Tintin & Haddock goes further in expecting you to creatively use the skills that you picked up from the solo-only portion of the game.

The Adventures of Tintin

Better Without Kinect

There's one last key component to The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, a challenge mode that collects the main game's secondary activities -- flying, driving and swordfighting -- into a section of their own. The flying and driving sections are further split into separate challenges that zero in on different skills, such as checkpoint racing and target shooting. There are different challenge levels for each one too; finish one successfully to unlock the next.

There are Kinect controls that I'll get to in a minute, but even playing with a gamepad, you quickly realize how inconsequential these diversionary activities are. They do help to break up the flow of the story portion of the game, but they quickly become boring and repetitive when taken on their own. And I haven't even talked about the Kinect controls yet.

There's no nice way to put it: they just don't work very well. Maybe it's the particular setup of my room or the lighting conditions when I played, but I just couldn't get the Kinect to pick up what I was trying to do.

The Adventures of Tintin

It all works well in theory. The driving bits are controlled as you'd expect them to be, with your hands in front of you, holding an imaginary steering wheel. The swordfighting is all about flapping your arms wildly, only occasionally slowing down to move in one way or another as you block an incoming attack.

It could be fun if it worked, but my own Kinect refused to behave for this game. I have no idea whether that's the fault of Tintin or my own setup, but it's worth noting that I never had any problems playing Child of Eden or The Gunstringer.

I could say that The Adventures of Tintin: The Game is one of the better film-to-game adaptations we've seen, but that hardly sells it given the stunning variety of awful efforts within that sub-genre. Instead, let's just say that Tintin turns out to be a fun game, and a far better one than you'd probably expect it to be. Thank the charming story and characters of course, but also the stylized presentation (clearly inspired by the comic) and the surprisingly large Tintin and Haddock mode.