Things must be returning to normal in the licensed videogame world. Dating back to the days of the Neanderthals, videogames based on movies have been steaming heaps of garbage. Surprisingly, however, recent releases like Terminator Salvation, Toy Story Mania, and G-Force have somehow broken the mold and managed to be decent games, worthy of your hard-earned cash. The good times had to end eventually. 9: The Mobile Game has returned the genre to its odious status quo.
It didn’t get a whole lot of buzz, but 9 is a CGI movie about a group of tiny creatures made of stuffed burlap, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Humanity has done itself in, leaving only these animated sack-people and terrifying robot insect monsters to rule the world. The film tracks a small group of sackfolk in their efforts to destroy the evil clockwork beasts.
Why hello, mechanical pterodactyl.
In still-frame cutscenes between levels, the game more or less follows the story of the movie. This is a side-scrolling platformer, so the goal of each level is to make your way east until you reach the finish line. On your quest, you’ll play as a smattering of characters from the movie. Some have unique abilities, like being able to step into the shadows to hide from bad guys, or use a grappling hook to swing over wide pits.
Many levels have you play as two sackpeople, whom you can switch between at will. Playing as one of them, you’ll find your way blocked by a pipe leaking steam, so you’ll need to switch to the other one to turn a crank to cut of the pipe’s flow. In fact, this tag-team action could have been a very cool feature if they had used it for anything other than turning cranks on steam pipes, but every level that features two sackpeople (which is the majority of them) has you swap characters exclusively to turn cranks. Apparently the nukes that destroyed humanity also made swiss cheese of all steam pipes.
There are also a few “autorun” levels, where your character jogs forward automatically, and you have to follow the quick-time onscreen commands that appear. This adds some welcomed variety to the gameplay, but these levels are extremely easy. They simply give you too much time to press the buttons.
By the way, collecting bolts gains you nothing in this game.
If that were all there was to say about the game, we would label it an average platformer and move on. Unfortunately, the real problem is with the controls. The animation is choppy, making your input feel looser than it should. No matter how much you play, it never feels tight. You can’t get your mojo going in this game, and what good is that?
Control issues, combined with repetitive level design and unpolished gameplay, put this game solidly in the “buyer beware” category. Your love of the movie or the platformer genre just won’t be enough to make this game worth the price of entry. If you’re in the market for this kind of game, we suggest you buy Spy Bot Chronicles. It shares the pros of this game, avoids the cons, and packs a ton of fun in its own right. Sorry, sackboy. We know that robots are your villains and all, but when it comes to platformers, Spy Bot is where it’s at.