Adapt And Die

Wreck-It Ralph

Just Wreck It

Wreck-It Ralph lacks the ambition of its source material.

By Ryan Smith • February 13, 2013

Adapt And Die is an ongoing look at how seminal (or at the very least semi-interesting) works of film and television have crashed and burned in the gaming world.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

To borrow Jessica Rabbit’s famous line from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Wreck-It Ralph isn’t bad, he’s just programmed that way. The self-doubting lead character of the movie Wreck-It Ralph has second billing in a fictional ’80s style arcade game called Fix-It Felix. After three lonely decades on the job terrorizing the denizens of an apartment high-rise, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) questions his virtual lot in life as the guy despised by everyone else.

In the film’s best scene, he attends a 12-step support group for video game antagonists (called “Bad-Anon”) and voices his desire to become a good guy—much to the chagrin of fellow baddies like Super Mario’s Bowser and M. Bison from Street Fighter II. (”Ralph, you can’t change who you are,” intones the Pac-Man ghost Clyde.) Soon after his virtual villain bonding experience, Ralph decides to ignore the confines of his game’s script and become a hero.

This subversive idea of Ralph defying the determinism of his own programming could have been taken in even more interesting directions in a video game, where the characters have been literally coded to behave a certain way. But the 3DS adaptation of Disney’s animated feature acts instead as a Calvinist argument against the central thesis of the movie. Now that Ralph has been recast as a good guy, he’s predestined for a role where he climbs ladders or utters tiresome one-liners after disposing of bad guys. In a game this boring, even the characters themselves seem to get distracted. Navigating yet another long corridor to nowhere, Fix-It-Felix murmurs to himself, “I wonder what my lady is up to right now.” Probably not playing this game, man.

Wreck-It Ralph

The Wreck-It Ralph film was far from a masterpiece, of course. It earned box-office and critical success on the back of a solid first half hour and the fact that it didn’t make the mistake of, say, putting Dennis Hopper in a silly Koopa costume or casting the dude from Party Of Five as a badass brawler. But after the initial scenes of Ralph’s existential crisis—peppered with a few clever gaming in-jokes for good measure—the movie stalls. Once the focus shifts to the candy-coated kart-racing game Sugar Rush, Wreck-It Ralph stops feeling like Pixar’s more endearing works, like Toy Story. Instead, it apes the worst habits of Shrek with obvious sight gags (“Nesquiksand”) and hyper-kinectic action sequences. By the end, the provocative premise of a character trapped by a lack of agency in his own video game gives way to a tired “You should totally just be yourself!” lesson straight out of Kids Movie Morality 101.

(Note: This paragraph discusses plot details of the film’s ending.) In comparison, the 3DS version of Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t even start well. It begins as a coda to the story of the movie, after Ralph has become best buds with his old nemesis Felix and made peace with the denizens of Fix-It Felix. It would be difficult to craft a licensed kids’ game around the concept of forgiving a person who has wronged you after three decades of evil, so a deus ex machina plot device changes the world: Klutzy Ralph manages to accidentally unleash an outbreak of alien insect creatures from a first-person shooter. Thus, Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-It-Felix team up to save the arcade from ruin.

You control both Ralph and Felix—each voiced by actors who excel at emulating John C. Reilly’s gruff baritone and Jack McBrayer’s aw-shucks southern charm. Ralph and Felix only appear one at a time, but you can switch between them, which is occasionally necessary to solve puzzles—puzzles that would fairly obvious even if the game weren’t giving you explicit on-screen instructions for the solution. Ralph, for example, can’t double-jump onto high platforms, and Felix somehow has no ability to climb ladders (which calls his skills as legit handyman into question). And again, the game is happy to remind you constantly about their limits with pop-up text. Both characters also have their own separate health bars, but that’s irrelevant because it takes nearly 20 normal hits from an alien to lose a life. (Somewhere, Mario weeps.)

Wreck-It Ralph

You start off in Game Central Station with the option of entering one of three different fictional games from the movie. An ugly-looking construction site is the backdrop of the Fix-It Felix levels, where you must leap over dangerously tipped-over wheelbarrows and pillars of concrete. Hero’s Duty—the shooter—opts for the generic future/alien spaceship look where every piece of the environment is shaded with a cold bluish gray. Also, forcefields. Sugar Rush resembles something puked out by Willy Wonka—all pink cotton candy and vanilla wafer platforms.

I’d describe it more detail, but I’m distracted by the countless other bizarre decision decisions of Wreck-It Ralph. Why does standing next to a stationary wheelbarrow or a red-white-and-blue popcicle damage me? Why do I have to play through every one of the 16 regular levels before facing any of the three bosses? Why is a Macerena joke being made in 2012?

Considering the source material, it’s also strange that you don’t play an 8-bit side-scroller in the Fix-It Felix world, since that’s what Fix-It Felix is, for pete’s sake: a combination of the building-bashing elements from Rampage and the “oversized bad guy versus blue-collar regular guy” concept from Donkey Kong. Neither do you play a Halo-esque military shooter in Hero’s Duty or a kart racer in Sugar Rush. You’re presented instead a Sophie’s Choice situation because each world is essentially the same slog through five levels of imagination-free platform hopping and consequence-free combat. Alas, if only our ragtag hero could escape into a game more interesting than Wreck-It Ralph and take us with him!

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  • PaganPoet

    Yeah, but this is really no surprise. When was the last time that a Disney licensed game any good? Maybe Aladdin on the Sega Genesis?

    It really is a shame. DuckTales on the NES is an example of a licensed game done the right way. Make sure the game is fun first and foremost.

    • George_Liquor

      I hear Epic Mickey wasn’t bad. Never played it myself, though.

      • PaganPoet

        I haven’t played it either, but I read it was moderately good, and that the sequel is an absolute mess.

        • Lawrence Allen

          I have a soft spot for their sidescrolling adaptations of Hercules and Tarzan (mostly from nostalgia). Also, the Toy Story 2 adaptation is better than it has any right to be.

        • DrFlimFlam

           This is correct. It’s moderately good.

        • JokersNuts

          ugh yeah, really liked the first one and incredibly disapointed by the sequel

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        It’s about as innovative, interesting, and fun as this Wreck-it-Ralph game sounds. While it’s not hellaciously awful, it is definitely not a good game.

    • Citric

      I enjoyed Kingdom Farts. 

    • Anthony Strand

      Darkwing Duck was a lot of fun too. Not quite as good as DuckTales, but the ratio was about the same as the ratio between the two cartoons, I’d say.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Castle of Illusion on Genesis was pretty fun too.

      The Lion King was pretty fun to start with, but the stampede level was infuriating.

      • LoadRanPimp420

        i played the game ONLY for the stampede level. that and Bug Drop. there should be a mode where you can play endless versions of those two scenes

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Kingdom Hearts 2.

      • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

        I’m going to beat you up and steal your lunch money tomorrow

    • JokersNuts

      DuckTales was amazing.  They should just make that again. 

    • http://twitter.com/wusstunes Matt Koester

       Many of Disney’s mid-to-late 2000s Nintendo DS titles were mostly ripoffs of more proficient titles, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. High School Musical 3: Senior Year shared a lot of DNA with Elite Beat Agents.

  • George_Liquor

    Sure that’s a 3DS game? Those screen shots look like the output of the good ol’ DS.

  • Citric

    The real shame is they could have done an excellent multi-genre mash up if they were so inclined, but they couldn’t be arsed.

  • tedthefed

    I liked Wreck It Ralph a lot, but I get people not being into it.  But one thing’s just wrong.  The movie’s message is not “You should just be yourself.”  It’s “Autistic/handicapped people can still be useful to society, and you shouldn’t mock them.”

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      The movie’s real message is that “Even bad guys are people, too. Except for some people, who are actually inexplicably, cartoonishly evil villains who turn into monster bugs and need to be thrown into a volcano. What? This is a Disney movie! We don’t give a fuck.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

        Wreck-It-Ralph wasn’t perfect, and I agree the middle was sloggy, but:

        SPOILERS

        It definitely picks up around the point Ralph destroys the Vanellope’s car. That leads to the cool-ass reveal of Turbo as the king and his ability to manipulate code (hence, the monster bug). “Be yourself” eventually turns to “sacrifice for the greater good,” a MUCH heavier theme than you’d expect from Disney – before the copping out (to be fair, so did Toy Story 3).

        Are we really starting the Wreck-It Ralph backlash now? Disney makes a pretty fun movie outside their Princesses franchise and already we’re doing this? That’s really disappointing.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Wreck it Ralph wasn’t overtly racist or advocating domestic violence, so its batting average is pretty good for a Disney animated feature. It’s still Disney, though. About halfway through,  it chucked out its initial pretensions of subverting the ideas of “good guys” and “bad guys” by having a character become a cartoonish ultra-villain that must be killed.

          Around the middle, there was a pretty satisfying, complex conflict happening where Ralph was forced to act as a “bad guy” for Vanellope’s own “good,” which made her hate him, etc. It incorporated the made-up goobledigook rules (“glitched characters can’t leave their game,” etc.) in a way that gave them some weight and made them seem a little less contrived. (And was a pretty honest approximation of the relationship big people can have with very little people sometimes.)

          Then it turns out it was all a lie by an irredeemable evil maniac, who is introduced late into the story and then transforms into a monster bug that needs to be thrown into a volcano. If the movie weren’t so dumb, that could almost be a meta-commentary on the formal/mechanical qualities of games lending themselves toward often-narratively-jarring Big Boss Battles, but that would be expecting a bit too much self-awareness for what is essentially a bit of by-the-books Disney pabulum.

          It’s a Disney movie, and Disney movies need unambiguous black-hat villains with nebulous justifications. Even if that totally undermines one of the central premises of the movie.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus While ultimately we may have to agree to disagree on this one, I do think the idea of assuming a “morally grey” direction in a Disney film – heck, in any animated film – is wishful thinking. (That’s more to do with the direction of animated films in general though.)

          Now, I do agree that I was also disappointed when they dropped that complex conflict by turning a really heavy moment in the film into a large-scale manipulation by the main baddy. But I wouldn’t say the baddy came out of nowhere. He was mentioned to be a dangerous force earlier in the film (his name hangs over the story as a dangerous omen come true) and the ability to code himself into a monster is a bit over the top but works because I’d argue that IS exactly what the film tried to do – make a “minor hero vs. HUGE BEAST” parody of a boss fight.

          And all the end psuedo-sacrifices, I felt, worked quite well, although, again, we ALL know they’d live/survive/get out in time. To me, it was about WHAT they learned that led to the sacrifices than actually doing so. For all of Ralph’s BS about medals and proving himself, he essentially fucked up by jumping games to prove himself worthy and realized the only way to fix it was to essentially sacrifice himself.

          Again, I’m not saying it doesn’t have flaws – I think the medal pursuit was overly long, the middle slogged, and Venollope being a princess was almost insulting – but I was okay with dropping the morally grey stuff because it led to a bigger thematic, and more important, picture.

        • Dwigt

          It could be said that Wreck It Ralph belongs to the princess franchise. Vanellope being voiced by Sarah Silverman, it even features the first Disney Jewish princess. Walt Disney must be turning around in his freezer.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Whitehead/789605656 Dan Whitehead

           The problem with using Turbo as the villain is that it makes no sense. Sugar Rush is clearly a new arcade machine, and his machine was mothballed back in the 1980s. So where has he been all that time? It’s a terrible reveal and one that adds nothing to the movie other than an easy conclusion for the writers.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.ehlers.96 Jeffrey Ehlers

          Dan Whitehead: In-universe, Turbotime was released (and canned) in 1982, Sugar Rush in 1997.  The movie’s events take place in 2012.  So there is a time gap which isn’t explained by the movie, but it isn’t as much of one as you might think.  Given his comic-opera pretentiousness, I could see Turbo sulking in Game Central Station for most of that time before realizing he could actually take over a game by reprogramming it.

      • tedthefed

        Wait.  But the whole point was that somethings about yourself you can’t change (Ralph’s destructiveness) but some things you can change (his malice).  The racer was actively, knowingly evil.  Plus, in his game, he was the good guy.  I don’t see the contradiction.

        Anyway, the heart of the movie was the little girl who “glitched,” which was such an obvious symbol for either autism or ADHD that I couldn’t help but see that as the main message of the film.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      The message I took away was that people aren’t defined by labels. Turbo was the Hero of his game, but he was an absolute jerk. Ralph was a nice guy, despite being the Villain of his game.

      To an adult, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But to a child of six, that idea is mind-blowing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Whitehead/789605656 Dan Whitehead

         But then Ralph goes back to being the villain of his game, the very thing that he was rebelling against, only now he’s OK with constantly being thrown off a building because the people who are doing it now like him for some reason.

        Vanellope’s arc is great – and totally a metaphor for epilepsy/autism/etc – but Ralph’s is a mess. He’s a character who wants to change, but literally can’t because his station in life is predestined. Very hard to make a satisfying and coherent parable for kids out of something like that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.ehlers.96 Jeffrey Ehlers

          Just to note, but Ralph didn’t particularly dislike his role in the game.  He just wanted to get treated differently outside of it – not get seen as a bad guy by everyone just because he played one in the actual game.  All the business about being a hero was because he thought being a hero would make people like him.

          The metaphor/parable is actually stated pretty early, by the zombie.  “Labels not make you happy… You must love you.”  And that’s a pretty good lesson to learn, no matter how old you are.  How many people in real life act like Ralph, seeing something as their MacGuffin, but continuing to be unhappy when they acquire it?

          Honestly, both Vanellope and Ralph are different facets of the same point – that you have to learn to accept yourself for who you are, and not let other people decide it for you.

  • Captain Internet

    Dreamworks Animated Movie Script Template:

    Define cute or odd-ball character
    Define certain rule or quirk that this character has always had to abide by
    Introduce villain
    Have character break rule or have bad episode of quirk
    Have character go on journey of discovery
    Villain sequence
    Introduce further cute or odd-ball characters, with their own rule or quirk
    After initial mistrust, have characters become friends
    Montage
    Characters have falling out over misunderstanding
    Villain interference
    Moment of realisation in first character
    Have characters help each other overcome their respective quirk
    Action sequence! Villain defeated
    Happy ending

    • CNightwing

      I see you have rediscovered Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

      • Captain Internet

        Ah yes, the ur-trope.

        • CNightwing

          Greek myth is a little lacking in cute sidekicks though – that may be the one advance in storytelling of the modern age.

        • Captain Internet

          @CNightwing:disqus Annoyingly I’ve just realised that Wreck-It Ralph was Disney rather than Dreamworks.

        • CNightwing

          The Disney template is identical, save for a note about hiring someone to dress up as characters at Disneyworldland. I’m sure there’s a movie that follows the exact same premise, but about a guy doing that job, in there somewhere.

        • HobbesMkii

          In Disney movies, the villain can’t be directly killed by the hero unless the hero is substantially weaker.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Well, that theoretical framework’s main use is as a self-justifying criticism-shield for hack writers.

        • Captain Internet

          Literary theory not being my strongest subject, which way round is it exactly? Are writers now deliberately using that structure to organise their stories, or is it just a vague catch-all into which you can crowbar any movie? Or is it now partially both?

          I can’t stand it when people talk about ‘tropes’ in films and television, in particular the website tvtropes.org- it seems like a community-run thought reduction program, a sort of voluntary Newspeak. 

          Yet there are certain things that do crop up again and again- Dreamworks characters, “sassy” black women, fat men dancing, three-act structures- and I have to wonder if writers are putting them there deliberately. 

          So is this mis-applied literary theory, laziness, or simply necessary to get the suits to fund your project?

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          I think it’s a type of reductive ‘literary theory’ that’s especially easy to understand without having to think too hard, and it has the added bonus of functioning as a highfalutin’ (but in fact thoroughly middlebrow) excuse for cliche in writing. Which makes it absolutely perfect for writers who aren’t very clever or well-read, who also (consequently?) can’t be arsed to actually write something worth writing.

          It’s this perfect enabling, self-flattering philosophy that allows you to feel smarter without actually having to improve your brain or work very hard. It’s a very American sentiment, in that respect.

          I think there’s something interesting about rigorous structuralist analysis of narrative (like Propp’s work with folktales), though I feel using those analyses as composition tools is probably a bad idea. And I don’t find Campbell’s work to be especially rigorous, in any case.

        • HobbesMkii

          I disagree with both this contention and the sentiment put forward by @Captain_Internet:disqus in regards to tropes. 

          The literary theory that Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces represents is called Structuralism (and breaks further down into Semiotic literary criticism), as @paraclete_pizza:disqus points out. What it argues is that there is a distinct pattern throughout literature, that art possesses a language and that immersing yourself in literature makes it easier to read and comprehend other literature, much like reading lots of Italian might allow an English-speaker to comprehend more Italian.

          In its most “pop culture” form, this turns to tropes: recurring motifs. In literary criticism, tropes are simply considered short-hand, and aren’t defined. The Life/Death/Rebirth deity trope, for instance, is a recurring motif in many religious narratives. TV Tropes itself makes the contention that tropes aren’t bad–they’re simply a way of viewing a structure believed to be inherent in art. The trouble is when people cite TV Tropes’ defined tropes in a dismissive form, as though “well, it’s all been done before, so what?” sense. 

          But the argument being pushed forward by structuralism is the idea that, since it’s most definitely been done before, that makes it easier for people to comprehend. Children’s movies follow the same general arc because the target audience is children and it’s far simpler for that group to be presented with the hero/villain dichotomy. Even if the movie hints towards complicated moral grey areas (the hyenas in The Lion King are oppressed!), it never addresses those. 

          One thing in defense of Campbell’s ur-myth is that he doesn’t attach value to it. A terrible story has the same structure as a wonderful story. Bella in Twilight goes through the same character arc that Frodo in The Lord of the Rings goes through. But that doesn’t make them the same. Equal content does not translate as equal quality.

          In all honesty, from an artist’s perspective, I don’t particularly care for Campbell’s work; it invites lack of innovation and is somewhat soul-crushing. I put it out of mind when I work. But from a critical perspective, any artist who attempts to deflect criticism by mentioning Hero is both unimaginative and an idiot. Structuralism argues that no artist can create without conforming to ur-myth. It’s inherent in all story. Might as well argue that people shouldn’t criticize your writing because you used words. 

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          That cuts both ways, though, @HobbesMkii:disqus. While adherence to structure doesn’t imply immunity to criticism, it’s also true that criticizing a work for employing tropes, without explaining what’s problematic about those tropes, isn’t really criticism at all. At best, it’s classification with an associated value judgment; there’s no “why” linking the “what” with the opinion.

          I realize this doesn’t contradict what you wrote. I just wanted to expand on your point that tropes are just tools; they’re not inherently good or bad.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          When I took an evening playwrighting course, we had some very rudimentary exposure to narrative theory.

          What I took away from it isn’t that your story should rigidly adhere to the template, but that you must understand the template so that you can break from it in the right way.

          Writing purely by instinct sometimes works, but it can also blow up in your face. Without a solid plan, my writing tends to run out of steam. For others, they need an endgame or else they’d just write forever.

          A theoretical story model can be a very helpful tool for self-criticism.

        • PaganPoet

          @twitter-493417375:disqus I think the same sort of knowledge of archetypes, tropes, styles, cliches, trends, however-you-want-to-call-it applies to basically any art form. I remember in conservatory, I was completely baffled about why my music composition professor wanted me to write a piece in the style of Shostakovich or Schoenberg or whoever. Or why in music history we spent so much time studying German composers who had been dead for centuries. I had a hard time focusing back then on what music from the past had to do with MY music and CURRENT music.

          It was years later when I finally understood the importance of that. Only by know what has come before you can you try to do something “new” or “different” or, hell, even just “competent” in any sort of meaningful way.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          “Structuralism argues that no artist can create without conforming to ur-myth. It’s inherent in all story. Might as well argue that people shouldn’t criticize your writing because you used words.”

          I find the uncritical acceptance of that assertion SUPER problematic, and extremely limiting though. It treats as a commonsense assertion something that really needs to be justified a lot more. Saying “Of course every narrative must conform to the ur-myth” seems about as naive and short-sighted as someone ten years ago saying “Of course you can’t play games on a phone!” If the assertion is in any way prophetic, it’s in a self-fulfilling way.

          Which is not to say that I adhere to some myth of pure originality or creativity, or don’t acknowledge that, in some way or another, everything it a remix. But there’s a tremendous gulf between the postmodern deconstruction of the idea of the creative genius-artist and the very modern assertion of Campbell-style structuralism.

          There are structuralists whose work I find really interesting (especially some of the Formalist proto-structuralists like Bakhtin and Shklovsky). But Campbell’s arguments, in particular, always feel a bit like thin gruel. His shallow connect-the-dots theorizing always struck me as being to cultural theory what shallow New Ageism is to religious systems. It’s largely a collection of easy connections, that is actually more interested in pasting over challenging differences than establishing meaningful similarities.

        • HobbesMkii

           One thing I’ll note is that you’ve got the benefit of having had Deconstruction as an established school of thought already, which is something that Campbell’s theory was developed in ignorance of (Hero was published in 1949. Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology was published in 1967). Point of fact, Deconstruction grows out of Structuralism (you have to have something to build up before you can tear it down) and uses a lot of the same terms (with their meanings intact) for the sake of clarity.

          I also want to point out that I’m not actually a proponent of Structuralism, just a defender of literary theory. I agree it’s rather short-sighted. We now know that the human mind is a pattern recognizing machine, to the point that it assigns patterns where none exist. To me, that suggests that rather than there being an explicit universal language, each reader constructs his/her own language when consuming art (with some influence from others–teachers and critics being #1 on that chart). Structuralism is simply a way of looking at things. I think a lot of people tend to stop there in their exploration of criticism because it promises a sort of easy(-ier) path to comprehension.

        • Dwigt

          This framework is actually used at Dreamworks for a much much more obvious reason.
          Given the time it takes to produce animation, storyboarding starts even before a script is completed.
          So, you’ve got to work on a strong but simple structure fixed in advance, as you can keep all this preparation work. Writers can improve the script, but an extensive rewriting would make the budget explode at this stage of development.

          A pre-Community Dan Harmon wasn’t very fond of this method when he worked on Kung Fu Panda:

          http://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/kung-fu-panda-writer-vents-5937.html

          You can also see that the writer who reported his words and the people who react to the piece are for the most part people with a background or an interest in animation, so they’re torn between calling Harmon for his cluelessness and his lack of experience in animation and admitting that Katzenberg’s rules for productivity at Dreamworks contribute to the blandness of the finished product.

          (Harmon also criticized the treatment given to his original script of Monster House in other occasions)

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      WIR wasn’t Dreamworks, although I guess the same template could apply.

  • NikolaevNV

    Really a good information.This helps me lot.Thanks for sharing

  • DrFlimFlam

    Children’s movie tie-in game is awful! More breaking news as it becomes available!

    • HobbesMkii

      I think maybe you miss the point of this feature series: http://gameological.com/category/feature/adapt-and-die/

      It’s not like GS is trying to break new ground by pointing out game adaptations aren’t good, it’s attempting to puzzle out why each game fails. 

    • PPPfive

      You are one of the group of people that bizarrely assume everything exists to surprise you

      • George_Liquor

         Woah, that was unexpected.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I disagree, but if I’m going to go out and say what I did, anyone is certainly able to provide their own critique of said comment.

  • OttoBot

    Everyone I know that’s seen the movie agrees on one thing. The best spin-off from this movie would’ve been a full-blown Sugar Rush game, with all of the characters and power-ups from the film. Even the tiny version in the iOS interactive storybook, with the ability to bake your own racecar, is fun. I could totally see it become a really fun kart game with fantastic tracks.

    • Bad Horse

      The irony is that the Fix-It Felix they made for iOS is genuinely fun for about 5 minutes. It doesn’t have the addictive quality of the best classic arcade games but it hits most of the right notes.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I have the Wreck-It Ralph iOS app, and yeah, it’s strange. The arcade game has the basic elements in place, and it controls reasonably well, but there’s something about it that just isn’t addictive. I think it may be difficulty, or lack thereof. It takes several levels to get to any semblance of danger, and even then it’s not particularly hard to deal with.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I don’t understand why there isn’t one. Kart racing is Mario plus dreck most of the time (CTR, where have you gone?), but Sugar Rush seemed to have several courses and gameplay elements right there in the movie.

  • indy2003

    Dear Gameological Society,

    I’m going to reveal my shameful ignorance here, but I’m genuinely curious: why is it that so many movie tie-in games are so uninspired? Movies like, say, The Adventures of Tin Tin or Thor seem like they ought to be able to inspire terrific video games, but it happens so rarely. Is it simply because the folks involved feel the brand name will sell the game, so they don’t have to put any effort into making a good one? Or is there more to it than that?

    Sincerely,
    Confused in Georgia

    • PugsMalone

      They get *really* short development times since they have to come out at the same time as the movie.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        That’s why the few good licensed games are those based on an ongoing property like a television or book series. If they need an extra month or two of development time, they can take it with the confidence that the series will still be a going concern when it’s released.

        • WaxTom

           *sigh* Gotta read these replies before I post…

    • Bad Horse

      I always suspected it’s mostly because people expect the brand to sell the game. Also, a lot of them try to fit into dominant genres when that isn’t really applicable – Home Alone would never have worked as a side-scroller, but maybe something like the NES Spy Vs Spy would have.

      • Bad Horse

        And judging by this article, by the way, it’s like they still try and do that. How hard would it be to make a decent Wreck-It Ralph, honestly? The movie itself is structured as a linked series of minigames – for once that would actually be an appropriate design. 

    • WaxTom

      I grew up on old crappy licensed Game Boy games (Dinotopia, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Lego Island 2, and 102 Dalmatians: Puppies To The Rescue were all in my possession) because my parents had no interest/clue in video games. Mostly what I remember about them was that they were really samey, usually some half assed platformer game that could be finished in an hour or a top-view adventure game that could be finished in an hour and a half. This is assuming the game isn’t completely broken already.

      My guess is that games like these are turned out as quickly and cheaply as possible in order for them to be on shelves in time for the movie’s premier. They aren’t really aimed at people who actually play games, they’re more for people like my parents who just know that their kid is glued to that thing and hey didn’t we go see 102 Dalmatians the other day? It’s the same reasoning behind those direct to DVD movies that ape the big blockbusters in hopes somebody will misremember what movie their granddaughter wants and picks it up instead.

  • Wiseau_Serious

    I might be missing something, but how is that a Sophie’s Choice situation? :)

    • Dwigt

      Are you speaking about the Pakula movie or its Commodore 64 adaptation? The part with Leslie Lapidus as a level boss felt very flat.

  • Andrew Perrine

    Just because the trailer was better than the actually movie doesn’t mean that the game had to be bad, but it probably didn’t help.