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Up: The Video Game review: Up: The Video Game

Up features energetic, colourful gameplay that will entertain kids hanging out to own their own copy of the movie on DVD, though it won't keep parents engaged for very long.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
3 min read

There are a few certainties in this crazy world: death and taxes is a well-known coupling, but just as inevitable is the release of a Pixar animated film and a video game tie-in shortly after.


Up: The Video Game

The Good

Colourful environments. Beautiful music. Two-player co-op with combined puzzle solving.

The Bad

Some annoying sound effects repetition. Graphics aren't as polished as we expected. Puzzles won't challenge older players.

The Bottom Line

Up features energetic, colourful gameplay that will entertain kids hanging out to own their own copy of the movie on DVD, though it won't keep parents engaged for very long.

Up: The Video Game follows the adventures of elderly Carl Fredricksen as he drags his balloon-strung house across a strip of South American jungle to fulfil his dream of positioning the two-storey weatherboard atop a tall peak overlooking Paradise Falls. Russell, a hyperactive wilderness explorer, is along for the ride, hoping to earn his assistance to the elderly badge, and collecting bugs and explorer experience along the way.

Building this collection of bugs and artefacts is the game's constant task. Similar to the Lego Star Wars series, Up's colourful environments consist of destructible plant life and rock piles which can be toppled to collect the Wilderness Explorer coins concealed within. Whacking certain ferns and shrubs will also let loose a swarm of coloured bugs, which Russell collects with his butterfly net. This in turn ticks off tasks listed on Quest cards, which the player aims to complete during the levels, in order to unlock bonus features like original Pixar concept art used in the making of the movie.

Also, similar to the Lego adventure games, is the co-op multiplayer options. Throughout the game the player will play as both Carl and Russell, with Dug (the dog) joining in at certain points as well. Two players can trek through the jungle simultaneously, but if there is only one player then they will switch between Russell and Carl with a single button press. This is important as puzzles are usually only solved by one character; only Russell can cut vines with his pocket knife, for example.

The game begins strangely with a bi-plane dogfight from the end of the film before jumping back in time to the beginning of the adventure in the game's second level. From here on the gameplay is a repetitive mixture of platforming puzzle solving, with the same puzzles recurring over and over through the levels — whack this bush, dodge this bee, swing across this gap or shimmy along a slim ledge — before returning to the aeroplane action to finish off the adventure. While the Lego games include building and breaking puzzles challenging enough to stump adults, Up's skill level is geared to younger minds only and adults playing co-operatively with their kids will find the game dull after a short time. Even the games collecting quests shouldn't require a second run through to complete, with most of the hidden secrets not being so well hidden.

For kids who fall in love with the film, the Up video game is a great way to relive the magic of the movie while waiting for a DVD release. The fantastic music alone will transport them back to the whimsical adventure of Carl and Russell, and the colourful graphics are a pleasure to look at, even if there are a bit rougher than we'd expect on a next-gen console. The puzzles and platforming in the game are a bit simple to be challenging for an older audience, but kids should love beating at the destructible environments and collecting the hidden treasures that are revealed.