Nostalgia is a powerful tool and if used correctly it can ignite old flames and bring back forgotten joy. For some of us The Muppets was the one source of that joy. Each character made their way into the hearts of children and adults alike. Names like Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, Rizzo the Rat, Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, and Animal may bring back old memories. For me, the Muppets hold a very special memory: my very first PS1 game (which I played to death) was Muppet Monster Adventure. When I heard about, and subsequently reviewed, a new Muppet game, I was excited to play it… too bad the excitement ended, very quickly.
As the name implies this game is very movie orientated. But unlike a movie, the game is divided into five short films and you basically run through the level as if you’re being filmed. Each stage is different and covers a different movie theme, i.e., adventure, horror, fantasy, sci-fi and western. There are four playable characters – Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Animal – each of whom star in their own “film”, except for Kermit who stars in two.
There’s no overall story arc, just a very simple and silly intro as to what the “movie” is about and then some instructions from the director. Other than that there’s no story, no development and no traditional Muppet comedy or quirks. Everything else is either text-based or voiced by the narrator. Actually the game doesn’t even include the voices of any of the Muppets – just the snarky director and uninspiring narrator.
Voice and story aside, the game itself doesn’t have many redeeming features. It’s very simple and short. You’re looking at a three hour campaign that’s mostly unchallenging and shallow. Most of the puzzles are laughably easy, the bosses follow the traditional Disney-boss-attack-pattern cycle and offer very little resistance and the level design isn’t brilliant. I will admit that I found Miss Piggy’s level enjoyable, a little challenging and the design was interesting. Unlike the other four levels, her’s was based on climbing a cylindrical tower. This added some dimension to the level and made you think about where you’re going. It wasn’t outlandishly challenging, but it offered more than the others. The rest were pretty standard 2D platformers. Jump from one ledge to the next, duck from enemy fire, hit enemies (with whatever weapon you have: umbrella, slingshot, wooden club, water balloons and a bubble gun – I kid you not). Rinse and repeat.
There are various collectables along the way, and the game purposefully makes certain collectables unobtainable during your first run, thus forcing you to replay it in order to collect everything. Guess what Disney, it’s not working for me. The levels and character designs stay true the Muppets aesthetic, but it could look a lot better. The art that’s used during the story’s intro is beautiful, but it doesn’t quite translate into the actual game.
Adding insult to injury, the controls aren’t perfect either. Jumping doesn’t require a lot of timing, but it doesn’t always register, the same goes for attacking. The game does utilize the front and back touchpads, unfortunately, it’s used for the most basic purposes, like drawing a circle to turn a wheel or by tapping the back to loosen a bolt. It’s used sparingly and doesn’t add much to the game. There is one exception; one of the boss battles requires the use of the front touch pad to aim and shoot, which is used rather well. Whoever thought of including that, I commend you.
Once you’re beaten the game, there really isn’t a reason to go back. Even if you do decide to go back and obtain the other collectables, you’re only adding about another two hours to your campaign, and then what? The amount of game you get for the price tag just isn’t worth it.
It’s unfortunate that a game with so many iconic characters in the world was reduced to a very simple and shallow platformer. I could brag about Muppet Monster Adventure for as long as I can, sadly, I just can’t brag about this one.