Tintin, or to give it its full name once; ‘The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn The Game’, is one of those games that will be marked as a miss opportunity, or at least marked as ‘would have been better as a download game’. The 2 player co-op mode is a standalone game that does not take place in same mishmash of book and film as the single player, but uses many of the same assets. Instead you must delve into the mind of Captain Haddock after he takes a knock on the bonce.
By setting the game in the surreal world of dreams Ubisoft are able to open the level design, but also fall into the trap of the game feeling like a series of moments, rather than a whole. This 2 player co-op game is drop in drop out local play only. You initially begin the game as Captain Haddock and Tintin. Inside the mind of 'The Haddock' are a series of doors that act as portals to new levels; Mario 64 style. Each level uses the core Tintin mechanics taken from the single player game, but with added co-op gameplay such as the ability to lift one another onto higher platforms.
The game mechanic takes the form of a 2D side scrolling platformer. The co-op levels are essentially a series of puzzles that you and a pal must ponder over to succeed. To aid you in your quest, each character has a unique skill set; Tintin can use a grappling hook, Haddock has the strength to knock down certain walls. After a few minutes you and your friend will be pottering along nicely, but you notice something; you can’t access all the areas within a level! This is because you unlock new characters with their own unique skills later in the game; Thompson and Thomson, Sir Francis Haddock, Snowy.
To fully complete the game you will have to complete each level as the main characters and then replay again with newly unlocked allies. This gives the game an extended LEGO freeplay feel, but lacks the joy of finding interesting and new places seen in that franchise, as the majority of out of reach places are obvious. What the freeplay mode does do is add real length to an already impressively long mode – to complete the levels and collect all the bonus items will take around 7-10 hours – not bad for an added extra.
Balls out entertainment
However, do you really want to play the game for that long? The disjointed nature of the levels means that there is no real logic to them. You open up one door thinking you will be zipped further down the screen, only to be transported somewhere completely different. The developer’s excuse is that you are in the mind of a drunken sailor; for me it just smacks of lazy level design.
The graphics are also an extremely mixed bag. The game itself is a solid 2D platformer, but no more impressive than a dozen download games and nowhere near the joy of Rayman Origins. The cutscenes are a different bag altogether; each character looks like they have been involved in a hideous threshing accident, only to be glued together again by a group of hyperactive chimpanzees. The voice acting also grates with the same 5 or 6 quips being repeated over and over again by actors impersonating those from the film.
Does the co-op itself make up for these shortcomings? Only to a small extent, as the co-op can be subverted if players choose to. If one player is too far ahead of the other, the player lagging behind will be kicked from the game and made to float around in bubble New Super Mario Brothers Wii style. They then press A and jump straight back into the fray. Add this to the fact that as long as one of the two players remains alive you can complete the game easily by constant respawning. It ends up with the co-op being a lot less challenging than the solo experience. Want to defeat the boss? One player hides out of the way and allows the other player to take the enemy on.
To completely write off Tintin would be a mistake. As a $10 download game it would have been perfectly passable. The unique abilities of the various different characters lead to some good challenges. Cooperation is needed if players want to get every hidden item, although many of the levels themselves can be completed by lazy drag-along physics. There is a decent amount of gameplay for a co-op mode that is an addition to a solo experience. However, the chances are that most people will grow tired of the dull voice acting and samey gameplay before they complete every level 100%. With a little more innovation this could have been one of the best modern 2D platformers. As it is, Tintin is a distraction at best, an eyesore at worst.
Editor's Note: The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn The Game was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.