January 28, 2002
Monster's Inc: Scare Island - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating Price
25/1/2002SonyArtificial Mind & Movement1G$79.95
Online Gameplay Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border

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Sully really is a cool monster.
If George Lucas were to regret one thing in his life to date, beside Jar Jar Binks, it may be his sale of Pixar to Apple founder Steve Jobs. Pixar was started in 1984 when John Lasseter left Disney to help Lucas create 3D special effects. Little did George know that only a couple of years after the sale the company it would become the premiere computer generated movie developer with hits such as Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 and their 2001 hit, Monster's Inc, on which this game is based. However, rather then follow the storyline of the movie this platform game sees you playing Sully, the big blue guy, and Mike, the one-eyed green monster, through the training areas to become employed by the company.

The Monster's Inc movie has some terrific humour and a great storyline, which basically follows the adventures of monsters in another dimension who must scare the living daylights out of children in the real world to collect energy from their screams to power their own dimension. The main voices of Sully and Mike were provided by John Goodman and Billy Crystal who sound wonderful together. This whole game is basically a large training camp for the monsters in the alternate dimension. These levels are filled with robotic children for Mike and Sully to practice their scares as you attempt to become a 'Top Scarer'.

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Water effects are average at times.
Monster's Inc includes three main training areas - Urban, Desert and Arctic which are split up into 4 levels each. The game also includes 3 bonus levels where you will enter a race against Randall, the evil purple chameleon monster from the movie. Each of these levels have their own challenges and tasks to complete as well as items and power ups to collect such as Primordial Ooze which increase your scaring abilities, Bags-O-Calories for health, speed boost arrows, flingshots and trampolines. Towards the end of the game a special tactic can be learned, and I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen the movie, which gives you maximum amounts of energy. As you progress through the game you earn 'Certificates of Terror' which go towards your graduation and eventual employment at Monsters Inc.

As you can imagine Monsters Inc is aimed at the younger market. The game isn't overly tough, and much like Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex it won't take too long to rack up the lives. The levels can also be completed by earning a bronze, silver or gold medal with a bronze medal allowing you to progress rather easily. Monster's Inc: Scare Island also includes around 11 minutes of movie clips which are unlocked as you progress through the levels. As they are straight from the movie they are of superb quality and sufficiently entertaining to make you want to complete the next level.

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The final graphics aren't this good.
As you can expect with a game aimed squarely at the younger market, and there isn't really much of a challenge here for the seasoned gamer. Monsters Inc can become quite pedestrian at times with little to do but scare the robot children and collect items. The game never really makes you think to much either with rather small areas to explore and very few puzzle type elements. Some areas of the levels are unlocked after playing further into the game, but you probably won't want to go back to finish the levels properly. Most disappointing however is that the game just isn't that much fun. Those of you old enough will remember great games such as Aladdin and The Lion King from Disney Interactive on the Super Nintendo which were totally enjoyable. Sadly, Disney seems to have lost much of that charm and fun in their games of late which is sad to see.

If you're after some lush visuals then you'd better go elsewhere. Beside the cut-scenes, which are taken directly from the movie, the graphics are well below the standards set by other Playstation 2 games. The backgrounds are bland with merely adequate texturing while the frame rate chugs at times when there is a lot happening on screen. Of more concern is the camera work which is quite poor by todays standards and despite the inclusion of manual controls these don't work all the time, particulary when in small rooms or up against walls. Fortunately the animation on the characters, while not super smooth, is varied with some interesting "scare" animations. Unfortunately even with 20 or so "scares" per character they become very repetitive after a short while due to having to perform up to 5 or 6 on each robot child.

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No screens of Mike. Why's that?
One of the least impressive aspects of this title is the sound. Despite the fact that Monster Inc: Scare Island is littered with plenty of often humorous lines and sounds Billy Crystal and John Goodman it's the music and sound effects that become tiresome. The music is lively and up-tempo but becomes so annoying that you'll soon look for the volume controls while the sound effects aren't overly exciting. The screams frmo teh robot children will also have you looking for the volume control in a hurry.

Monsters Inc really is a very disappointing title considering the quality of the movie. The graphics are no where near the standard of the surrounding screenshots which are moch shots from early in development (Sully doesn't have the hair sticking out as seen here), but they were all I could get. This game is really aimed at the younger market and indeed they will likely get a lot more enjoyment from the title. If you've finished Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil and even Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex then this might be worth a look, especially if you find it lying on the street. If you haven't played the other games then I would recommend them first.

GRAPHICSNothing outstanding with some frame rate problems, varied animation.
SOUNDAnnoying music, adequate sound effects, moderately good speech.
GAMEPLAYIt's entertaining but becomes a little pedestrian and repetitive at times.
VALUEIt's not a very big game and won't take adults too long to complete.
OVERALLMonster's Inc is a fun title which is more suited to younger gamers.

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