Zathura PS2 Review
“This is not going not be the greatest game I am ever going to play” those were the words that left my mouth as I placed the game in my PS2’s matt black disc tray. I had my expectation set very low, there was no way I was going to be disappointed by what this game throws at me. I begin playing and I was ready to be pleasantly surprised at whatever small scraping of good-points I could get my hands on. Then something happened, something unexpected, something terrible! The game managed to perform well below my expectations. Yes! It is that bad…
Ok, first of let me tell you what Zathura is about… The movie is based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allburg who also wrote Jumanji many years ago. The basic premise of the movie is retelling the Jumanji story with new characters (no Robin Williams!!) and moving the setting into outer space. I personally have not seen the movie yet (but I plan on given it a look as I loved Jumanji) so I don’t know about the quality of that yet but as I said if the game is anything to go by, I should prepare to be disappointed.
You play Zathura from a third-person view and the game plays just like your average platformer (albeit a very bad one). The game starts off with Danny and Walter who are two young kids that have being left home alone one day when one thing leads to another and a fight breaks out which drives one of the kids to the basement of the house where he finds a board game called Zathura. One of them hits a button on the game and a card pops out. Soon afterwards a meteor shower starts which wrecks the house, not only is the house now in ruins it is also floating in space. To get back home, the kids decided they must finish the game but each time they take a turn something weird starts to happen. It is from here the main game begins with each turn being represented by a different level in the game which is filled with all different kinds of monsters.
This all sounds great, this basic premise seems like a nice way of setting up varying levels to venture across but as I have said many times already; the game is not a lot of fun. First off it is a terrible generic experience; everything in the game has been done before and done much, much better. The game is also very short and could be completed in around 4 hours if rushed through. Throughout this short experience you get to play as three playable characters: Danny, Walter, and a large robot. As you would expect the robot seems to be the most fun to play as robots are great! He has two melee attacks and a cannon that can fire pulse ammo, bombs, missiles, and homing charges. Sadly the robot also seems to have the smallest part in the game and you are forced to play as Danny and Walter for most of your adventure as the game will not let you choose which character to play as.
The game controls reasonably well and lets you lock-on to whichever enemy you want to attack. In the game you can also crouch, strafe and dodge when needed. Of course as the game is a platformer there is bound to be some jumping sections but sadly this is another one of the game’s unforgiving moment as any form of jumping in the game can reach Turok levels of annoyance as the camera has a mind of its own and seems to be placed at weird angles when it should not be. At times I wished that the game was more like Lego Star Wars that was released last year as that was a great example of how to make an adult friendly kids game but Zathura is far from friendly to you regardless of what age you are.
In terms of graphics the game is passable at best. The enemies seems to have been given the most attention as they look ok and seem to be animated well but it is all downhill from there. The three main characters are very uninspired and don’t look that interesting at all. The environments are varied but none of them stand out as looking that great. There are also a few framerate problems at some points throughout the game which is unforgivable as the graphics are hardly pushing the PlayStation to its limits. Sounds seems to be the game’s highpoint as the soundtrack seems like it may have been lifted directly from the movie and it has a nice epic adventurous feel to it. The voice acting is also of a high standard as it was done by the actors from the movie and each line seems to be delivered very well. However the sound effects don’t seem to have any oomph to them which is another down point of an overall disappointing game.
As a kid I loved Jumanji, in fact I still love it to this day. When I was younger I searched for a Jumanji game to play after I watch the film but found none. Zathura was supposed to be the world finally giving me what I wanted. Everything was supposed to work itself out and rectify my disappointed in childhood but that is not what happened, that is not what happened at all. The game has decided it would be fun to rip my childhood dreams apart and possibly beat them with a shovel as it laughs manically in my face. The game is not a very fun experience and at times actually feels like a chore to play. Even for a young audience there is not much fun to be had here as the game’s core gameplay mechanics are flawed, making it an uninteresting experience for people of any age. All in all Zathura was a very disappointing game to play and venture through.
3.6 out of 10