A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this generally kid-friendly game features mild cartoon violence such as using weapons like golf clubs to whack cartoon animals and insects. Also, you'll see spatters of green blood on the ground after killing jungle bugs. In arial combat levels, you are tasked with shooting down planes that simply disappear in clouds of smoke.
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- Kids say
What's it about?
Up is Disney's latest Pixar movie, currently shown on thousands of screens nationwide in 3-D. THQ's video game UP, not in 3-D, follows the movie's story line. This platformer game features a thoughtful, inquisitive kid named Russell; Carl, a delightful old man who fears assisted living; and a balloon-propelled flying house which ends up in Venezuela for an often humorous escapade.
You'll control both Carl and Russell (ever tethered to the flying house) during the game, and you'll often have to work in tandem to get things done. As you move around this world, you'll amass coins for health purposes by killing bugs and breaking rocks. Russell can shimmy across ledges while Carl can use his cane as kind of grappling hook. Russell can use his backpack as a weapon, too. Some of the game levels involve flying bi-planes in dogfights. While there is multiplay for up to four people, there is no online play.
Is it any good?
Up's characters have all the charm of their movie counterparts – right down to the way they move. The graphics are top notch, though not exactly Pixar quality. In both foreground and background, the unlikely heroes, outrageous villains, and tropical environs look about as good as any movie-based animated game can for this generation of consoles. And while you can't explore everywhere you want to as you could in the WALL-E game, you don't really notice that you're on a path from which you can't really stray.
Up, while good, is not THQ's finest hour when it comes to its stable of Pixar-related games. Some of the attention to detail – which makes or breaks a game like this – is missing. Carl, the oldster, often whacks Russell with his cane when he is trying to crack open coconuts or smash bugs. Carl is not supposed to do that but the computer-controlled Russell gets too close to the cane, and - whack - he's down on his back. Also, when swimming through a supposedly harrowing cave filled with rapids and giant snakes, there's not much to do except collect coins. In fact, if you don't do anything, you still get to the end of the run unscathed. And sometimes, Russell's dialog is cut off by another line of dialog. That essential suspension of disbelief is occasionally missing and with it goes your willingness to be emotionally touched – which is sad because the movie itself is so appealing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why most children's movies have accompanying video games? Did you choose to play this game because you had seen and liked the movie? What you would do if you were about to embark upon an epic journey that included a house raised by balloons. Who would you pick to go with you and why?
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